Thinking of Getting a New Android Phone? You Might Want to Think Again — The Malware is Coming!

The Android is one of the most popular smartphones on the market, so of course, it was just a matter of time before spammers and advertisers found a way to hijack it for their purposes.

According to Trend Micro, a maker of antivirus protection for computers and other devices, Android malware attacks are growing every month, and they are about to get downright catastrophic.

The firm said at the start of 2012 that it had found more than 5,000 malicious applications specifically created to hammer Google’s Android mobile operating system. However, in recent months, that figure has swollen to nearly 20,000, but that’s not the worst of it.

By the end of the third quarter of this year, Trend Micro estimates that the figure will be above 38,000 in malware attacks. By the holidays, when everyone is buying smartphones as gifts, the number of malware attack programs will be in the 130,000 range.

Trend Micro called it a Malware Pandemic, dwarfing any kind of malware trend it has seen in the mobile space before. Now, keep in mind, Google Play — the giant’s new online games platform that launched as a companion to Google’s other cloud apps — has already been tapped by malware purveyors as a favorite hangout. In addition, Trend Micro went on to report that more than a dozen malicious apps for the Android were downloaded more than 700,000 times before Google saw fit to remove them from the platform. Now, these weren’t just annoying pieces of backlinks to Web sites. Some of the malware is pretty nasty in what it does: some steal data, some use your GPS device to track your mobile device, and some simply throw ads at you. Some of the malware programs can configure your phone to ring premium rate numbers and even worse, steal your personal data right from your phone. So, for Google to be creating another seemingly safe haven for malware makers, it’s going to amount to a big fat black eye in the industry by the time the buying season rolls around.

So, from bad to worse — Android users make up more than 50 percent of the mobile market share, according to ComScore.

Here’s what Micro trend’s research director had to say about it:

“The growth in Android malware demonstrates sustained and focused criminal interest in the mobile platform and particularly in the Android operating system,” said Rik Ferguson, Trend Micro’s director of security research and communications.

So, let’s be careful out there. If you don’t need a new app for anything on your Android, don’t download anything for the time being until Google has this all sorted out.

Or, you could just get an iPhone. Yeah, I’m a MAC nerd, but I’m just sayin’.

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