Researchers at Symantec discovered that an outdated version of a controversial Android app called ‘Dog Wars’ is infected with a trojan apparently placed by animal rights activists offended by the game’s premise.
‘Dog Wars’ is a beta-phase Android based mobile game in which players raise virtual dogs and pit them against the dogs of other players. Sounds innocent enough, right? Apparently not. According to Symantec, unknown parties, angry that attempts to halt the game’s production failed, added malicious code into an older version of the application.
When downloaded, users are asked to grant various permissions, SMS included, to the malicious package, dubbed ‘Dogbite.’ Once installed on a compromised Android device, a service called ‘Rabies’ silently access your phone’s contacts and send SMS text messages that read:
“I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just thought you should know that.”
The Dogbite application also sends a second SMS message to “73882,” which signs the user up for a text alert service operated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Symantec researcher, Irfan Asrar, speculates that PETA has nothing to do with the application and that this is likely the work of someone aligned with the group or seeking sympathy from the association.
Differentiating the legitimate and infected versions of Dog Wars is difficult on looks alone. However, one give away is that text reading “BETA” in the bottom right corner of the application’s desktop thumbnail has been changed to read “PETA” in the corrupted version. Presumably as an homage of sorts to the animal rights group.