With PC sales dwindling amidst a rapidly growing smartphone and tablet market, malware creators are increasingly targeting Android, the world's most popular mobile platform. In fact, NQ Mobile reports that over 32.8 million Android smartphones were infected with malware in 2012, an increase of 20 million units from 2011.

To combat this trend, several companies offer Android security apps, targeting malware and the most common issue for mobile devices: loss and theft. We tested the best and most used Android security applications by comparing features, the level of protection provided and what impact, if any, these programs have on your device's performance. Two apps rose to the top of our rankings: one free and one premium.

Avast Mobile Security by AVAST Software

Widely known for its free anti-virus and security suite for PCs, Avast has brought its security solution to Android. Avast Mobile Security is a completely free application with a polished user interface and innovative features. Call and SMS forwarding, a feature called Privacy Advisor, and the ability to set your device to call another number when it's lost or stolen make Avast a top Android security app.

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AVG AntiVirus Pro

With more than 70 million downloads AVG AntiVirus is one of the most widely used mobile security applications for the Android platform. The company prides itself on its anti-theft performance, and includes remote device wipe and lock functions in the free application. Additionally, App Locker and App Backup, both unique to AVG, help users keep their applications safe and is easy to re-install should you need to reset your device.

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Kaspersky Mobile Security Pro

Bringing its expertise in PC security to Android devices, Kaspersky Mobile Security promises to provide premium protection against theft, loss, prying eyes and Android malware. And unlike many other mobile security apps, Kaspersky requires users to enter their PINs to perform a factory data reset on their smartphone.

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Lookout Mobile Security

Created by three students at the University of Southern California, Lookout Mobile Security has quickly become one of the most trusted mobile security applications for Android devices. Lookout prides itself on consistently being the first company to identify new malware, and the app is continually updating its definition process to ensure you're always protected against the latest mobile threats. The company also added several innovative, useful features such as Signal Flare. Find out why this app is well worth $30 per year.

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Norton Mobile Security

Norton has a long-standing track record of providing anti-virus and other security applications for PCs. In fact, many users who've purchased a laptop or desktop in the last decade have probably had a Norton product pre-installed on their Windows machine. Norton Mobile Security for Android devices delivers a polished interface and a useful front-facing camera anti-theft feature, all while leading the industry in mobile malware detection.

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The 5 Best Android Security Apps