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When talking about the mobile market and assessing its strengths and weaknesses, conversations and debates usually take an Android versus iOS format. Each of the two major mobile operating systems has its own perks and limitations, and in the case of Android, one of the key issues for a long time has been that of malware. Its open source nature leaves it naturally more susceptible than its Cupertino counterpart, but according to security research firm Lookout Mobile Security, things could take a turn for the worse in 2013.

Although large-scale infection is rare, Android users have to remain vigilant against the many fake .APK files littered around the Web – waiting to spam or defraud those using Google’s mobile OS.

Lookout believes as many as 1.2 billion mobile devices will be purchased by consumers next year, with in excess of 70 billion total downloads of mobile apps. Given Android’s large reach, the firm estimates as many as 18 million devices could, at some point, encounter a strain of malicious software.

Although these are only estimates, the news will likely alarm many of you running – or intending to run – an Android-based device. Your susceptibility to malware is, however, dependent largely on your geographical location. Those in the U.S. have a minuscule 0.40% – more than one in two hundred – chance of seeing an infection of malware, yet those in Russia have a 34.7% – or one third – chance of succumbing to the non-niceties.

The global malware infection rates have steadily risen during the course of the year, and although the devices we own are becoming more and more sophisticated though generations, so are – it would appear – those behind the malware.

We can all – no matter what our location – take preventative measures against malware. Installing a decent antivirus from the Google Play Store is a good start, but also, sticking with the official and reputable app release stores – GP, App Brain, and so on – is an advisable step to take. The scammers often find a way to slip through the net, which says as much about Google’s moderation process as the cunningness of the masterminds of the malware, but on the whole, using common sense and assessing an app before installing is the best way to protect yourself.

(via BGR)

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