Lookout Mobile Security is a company that makes its money by providing software to "protect" your mobile device from malicious software, so right off the bat, let's keep in mind that the company isn't exactly an independent and unbiased source of information on the so-called "malware" threat on Android. For Lookout and other companies, it is in their interest to scare you about potential malware and virus threats, so we want to put the newest claim in its proper perspective.
Lookout Mobile Security has announced that it is predicting 18 million Android devices to be hit by "malware" next year. First of all, Android is expected to sell 600 million devices in 2013, which could very well put the total number of Android devices around 1 billion by the end of the year. Given that, 18 million
devices being infected would only represent 1.8% of all devices being infected with some sort of malware. Second, "malware" is a blanket term that could mean anything from an "aggressive ad network" to an app that could legitimately steal information or harm your device, so even if you are in that 1.8%, only a proportion of you will even get infected with something malicious.
Of course, the Lookout report does have one very good bit of info to keep in mind, which is a heat map of where users are most likely to be infected by malware (which is undoubtedly connected to how often people in those regions get apps outside of the Google Play Store.) Russia has the highest threat at a 34.7% chance of infection, while the US comes in at a 0.4% chance. Though, we were surprised to see the UK and Italy as spots with threat rates over 1%.
So, as always, be careful with how and where you get your apps. If you live in an area where you can't rely on the Play Store, or in one of the other high risk areas, certainly try to protect yourself with software like Lookout. But, if you live in the US and exclusively use the Play Store, don't worry so much, and keep things in perspective.