The top security threats to mobile users in 2012? Malware, sneaky ads and data thieves.

The top security threats to mobile users in 2012? Malware, sneaky ads and data thieves.

Lookout, the company behind Lookout Mobile Security (one of the most popular security apps in the Android Market), just released its ‘2012 Mobile Threat Forecast.’ The reports reveal insights into the state of the mobile security market, with a review of 2011 and threat predictions for 2012.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lookout Mobile Security, the app essentially protects against ’emerging mobile threats.’ Lookout recently surpassed 15 million users, and is adding as many as 1 million users each month. The Lookout Mobile Security app is available for iOS as well, because Lookout thinks that malware developers will begin taking advantage of iOS sooner or later. Only time will tell.

2011: Year to Date

So far during 2011, Lookout reports that ‘the likelihood of an Android device encountering malware went up’ since 2010. And with that, malware is becoming increasingly more sophisticated. If you aren’t familiar with mobile malware, there appears to be two main types: Apps that steal data, like Droid Dream, and apps that charge money without the user knowing it, like GG Tracker.

According to Lookout’s research, US based android users have a 4% chance of encountering malware, while Russia and Israel based users have an 11% risk. Other threats, such as unsafe links and fishing attempts, are much more common, being encountered by around 40% of US Android users.

2012: Predictions

Lookout predicts three increasing trends in malware for The New Year. According to its data, ‘mobile pick pocketing’ has already led to an ‘estimated $1 million dollars stolen from Android users in 2011, and will likely grow [during 2012].’ This type of threat frauds users into agreeing to a TOS, and then sends premium texts or calls on their behalf.

Lookout is also looking out for BotNets, as it has found apps in the wild that appear to have BotNet-like capabilities. It’s important to note that active BotNets haven’t been found yet, but Lookout anticipates this will happen.

Automated repackaging is another increasing malware tactic. Malware developers have lately been finding automated ways of repackaging apps in bulk into third-party android markets.

Preventative Medicine

There are a number of things mobile users can do to stay protected against emerging malware tactics. Lookout found that Android users should be particularly carful about using third-part app stores. You should also be on the lookout for malvertising: Genuine-looking ads that lead to malware. Sometimes served by legit ad networks, in app ads can link to unexpected/hidden malware in the same way shortened urls can. Lastly, pay close attention to apps that ask you to agree to a TOS that is hidden, or isn’t obvious.

In the end, using common sense and sticking to the official app store is the best way to stay safe. Stocking up on trusted security apps can also help secure your mobile device. Has your phone been compromised in the past? Or are you malware-free? Share the details below.

Read next: Alibaba to pre-load mobile gaming on its Chinese operating system