Anyone who owns a Windows PC knows how important it is to protect your computer from the many viruses, trojans, and other malware out there but are you worried about your tablet? If you’re not, you should be. Juniper Global Threat Center says there has been a 472% increase in Android malware since July 2011. Now we all know you shouldn’t put much trust in statistics, but let’s just say that number is somewhere close to the truth. How does this happen?

One of the major reasons why there is such an increase in Android malware is due to the fact that it is very simple to get an app on the Android market. The process goes a little like this. Step one: sign up for a developer account with Google. Step two: pay the $25 fee to put your apps in the Android Market. Step three: upload your apps to the Market and they are ready to be downloaded. That’s it. There are no safety protocols in place to catch malware before it gets put out for the masses to download. It’s left up to the Android community to report potential problems.

Juniper reports that the attackers are also getting more sophisticated. A large percentage of the new malware are able to gain root access to your device using vulnerabilities in certain devices. If you are unfamiliar with what it means to have root access to an Android device, it means you have administrator access. By gaining root access, the attacker can get any of your information they want. Juniper says that about 55% of these malware go after your personal information, while the rest target the SMS settings of Android phones. Attackers could then use these devices to send lots of spam messages to your contacts.

So how can you protect yourself from attackers gaining access to your tablet and all your information stored therein? The first and most important way is to just be smart with the apps you install. I tell people all the time that the only way you can get malware on your device, whether it be your tablet, phone, or computer is to actually click something. Malware doesn’t get magically downloaded on its own. Make sure you read the descriptions and reviews of the app. The market listing will also tell you how many times that app has been downloaded. It’s pretty safe to say that if a particular app has more than 10,000 downloads with good comments and reviews, then it’s probably OK to download.

There are also a few apps that are made to scan your system and any apps you download for malware. Think of it like Windows virus protection for your tablet. You can set them to autorun and they will scan any new app you download automatically. Most of these security apps have other features included like automatic backups and the ability to help find your tablet if it’s lost. Lookout Mobile Security is the number one mobile security app with over 10 million downloads. A lot of the more popular Windows security firms have also tried getting into the mobile game with McAfee, Norton, and AVG all having apps available.

Now I know what some of you Apple users are thinking, that you don’t have to worry about malware. Well let me point you to this article, and say that your day is coming. Good internet security habits are essential to anyone that has a presence online. Now is the best time to make sure all your personal information is safe, no matter what operating system or device you use.

[Juniper Global Threat Center]