A hacker who helps

  @FortuneMagazine October 10, 2013: 3:32 PM ET
TEC28 john hering

Lookout's John Hering has found a back door into enterprise network security: mobile devices.

(Fortune)

John Hering wants to show me something. We're standing at a busy intersection in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood; he pauses, takes off his black Tom Ford sunglasses, and points to the one-story-tall graffiti art on the side of a building. Next to a boy wearing a gas mask, the tag line reads: "If at first you don't succeed -- call an airstrike." A probable criticism of America's military, the work is one of several in the city by the enigmatic British street artist Banksy. "What really appeals to me is his willingness to leverage different mediums in incredibly creative ways to communicate a message that causes the viewer to truly think and ask questions," Hering says later.

His admiration seems fitting, given that both men thrive off challenging the status quo: One stretches the creative boundaries of walls and bridges; the other hacks into electronics to figure out how to protect them. When Hering, 30, co-founded Lookout in 2007 with University of Southern California classmates Kevin Mahaffey and James Burgess, they bet that consumers would use their PCs less as mobile devices advanced by leaps and bounds. Fast-forward six years: Now more than 45 million smartphone users run Lookout's free security app to retrieve lost devices and back up data. (The app also comes preloaded on many T-Mobile devices.)

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