Security firm BitDefender predicts that malware will become so prolific in 2013 that it has rightfully been dubbed the "year of mobile malware." Everyone has a mobile smartphone in today's world, so it's only natural that hackers and scammers would start making their way into the mobile realm.
The funny thing about Mal-ware on the Android platform is that doesn't just randomly happen. It's not like on a Windows PC where you can visit a suspicious website, and have an infected cookie installed on your system. It's not like self-installing spyware that can apparently infiltrate your computer and cause detrimental harm.
In order to contract Malware on your Android device, you actually have to install the related files yourself. Now keep in mind, there are certain scenarios where this is much easier to do, but it still leaves the responsibility up to one person. Unfortunately, there's been an increase of fake apps in the Google Play store lately. It's certainly possible for you to put something dangerous on your phone when you're not paying attention.
Thus lies the key lesson here, always pay attention to what apps you are installing on your device and what permissions they need.
Most Malware can only be installed by sideloading apps onto your phone (pirating them also applies here) or installing them from unknown sources. Again, pay attention to what you are putting on your phone. If you're like me, and your phone is actually an extension of yourself, then it contains all kinds of personal information and that means you should protect it like you would defend someone you love. Question the validity of everything that you allow to come into contact with it and that includes apps.
Think of just how much personal data you have stored on your phone, and imagine if an external source got that information. There's unequivocally no telling what they could do with it.
BitDefender also says that the reports of Android devices infected with malware increased by a total of 41% in the second half of 2012. Those numbers are expected to increase at an alarming rate by 2013.
While these numbers are certainly scary, I will direct you to my very first point that malware doesn't just install itself. It doesn't matter whether we're in the 'Year of the mobile malware' or not, pay attention to what you are doing and what software you permit to access your device. If you heed these warnings, you should be okay.
If you are truly concerned that you might have malware on your smartphone or tablet, personally I recommend giving Lookout a try. If you'd like a bigger selection of protection apps, check out our previous report on the 'Top Ten Best Anti-Virus and Security Apps for Android'.