Symantec believes animal rights protestors against the “Dog Wars” app for Android were behind a fake version that has been laced with a Trojan.
“After a public outcry and a write-in campaign failed to convince the creators of ‘Dog Wars’ to discontinue work on their app, it appears that protester(s) have now taken to targeting the users of the app directly in order to get their message across,” Symantec blogger Irfan Asrar wrote Wednesday.
The real Dog Wars app, developed by US outfit, Kage Games, was the subject of controversy in April around the time of its launch on Android Market. The app was briefly removed due to copyright issues over its name, however it was later re-released as KG Dogfighting and is still available on Android Market.
At the time, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, released its own iPhone app in response to its availability on Android Market and made appeals to have the game removed, adding that Apple would never allow such an app on its service.
According to PETA, Hollywood actress Alicia Silverstone weighed in on the debate in April, warning Google co-founder and CEO, Larry Page, in a letter that “If one dog dies as a result of this game, you will not forgive yourself.”
The now-outdated beta version of the app that the malware writers had trojanised can only be found on warez sites, according to Symantec.
Still, if a user does download the protest version of the app, it will result in them sending a message to all their contacts that “I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just though you should know that”.
If a user grants permission to install the trojanised app, it injects a package called “Dogbite”, according to Symantec, which then launches a “Rabies” service that initiates the SMS message.
It then sends an SMS message to a texting service operated by PETA with nothing more than the message “text”.
Despite the trojan app containing a PETA in its title, replacing Dog War's original "BETA", Symantec believed the app was created by a sympathiser that was seeking attention.