The botnet can allow smartphones infected with Trojan-based malware to be hijacked remotely and potentially used for fraudulent purposes.
Researchers say the malware is being spread through more than 7,000 infected smartphone apps downloaded from non-Google third-party app stores.
The warning comes as China now has more than 420 million mobile users, growing by more than 18% in the past year, according to the BBC.
READ MORE ABOUT MOBILE MALWARE:
- Malware spammers target Android OS
- Mobile malware on the rise
- Malware trends: The rise of cross-platform malware
- Enterprises must help identify secure mobile apps, define malware
- Google no longer playing with Android malware
- Security firm warns of Android mobile toll fraud in latest mobile malware report
- Android now top mobile malware platform
- Cybercrime 2012: Malware attacks prominent in retail, financial industries
The discovery of the botnet has raised fresh concerns about third-party app stores and the low level of awareness among users about the possible threats.
The second quarter of 2012 saw the biggest increase in malware samples detected in the past four years, says security firm McAfee.
Researchers detected a 1.5 million sample increase in malware since Q1 2012, according to McAfee’s latest cyber threat report.
McAfee Labs identified new threats such as mobile “drive-by downloads”, the use of Twitter for control of mobile botnets and the appearance of mobile “ransomware”.
The report is based on input from the McAfee Labs team of 500 multidisciplinary researchers in 30 countries.