Mobile malware is coming. Get prepared.

One thing I’m seeing in the predictions-for-2013 columns is that mobile malware is going to increase this year. While I can’t be certain it’s going to happen, all of the ingredients are there. The only thing stopping it is motive.

I’m familiar with Avast antivirus on Android. It’s nice. Whenever I download an app from the Google Play store, it scans it, and if it finds something it doesn’t like, it intervenes.

I can’t speak for other antivirus apps, but Avast doesn’t bog my devices down much. I noticed a little bit more lag on my underpowered Nook Color-turned-tablet, but it’s a very low-end device, especially by today’s standards. On my Samsung Galaxy S 4G smartphone, which is closer hardware-wise to the low-end devices of today, I don’t notice any additional lag.

If your device is rooted–and many of the sub-$100 tablets you find today are rooted from the factory–you need a firewall, and Avast provides one. It’s nice. You can allow or deny access to various apps, and it gives you a rundown of what the various apps do. Tap on the app, tap Privacy Info, and you can find out any privacy issues the app has. I found a couple of apps that were tracking my location and didn’t need to be, so I uninstalled them. I understand a weather app wanting to grab my location–that lets it give me conditions where I am at the moment–but a reference app doesn’t need to do anything like that.

I’m a bit loathe to advise this, but it almost seems worth it to root your Android device just so you can run Avast and see what the apps you run are doing in the background.

The first step toward better security is plain old awareness. Avast gives you that awareness, without costing a lot in terms of either money or system resources.

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