Symantec Finds Rogue Dog Wars Android App with Hacktivist Agenda

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Symantec has discovered a new Trojan malware app circulating for the Android OS. The app is a rogue version of a controversial app involving dog fighting, and is aimed at sending a hacktivist message.

Dog Wars is a game that involves raising your dog to be the most vicious dog on the circuit and taking on other virtual dogs in fights to the death. The app itself is offensive to many--in fact, it prides itself on being so provocative that you would never find something like it on the iPhone app store.

Android warning
Be careful where you get your Android apps from, and make sure they don't have malware.
The app sparked some backlash from animal activists that wanted the developer to voluntarily pull it. Those protests landed on deaf ears, so apparently some more resourceful animal activists decided to create a rogue version to try and publicly shame users who partake in the barbaric game.

When you install the rogue app it asks for various permissions to access information on your Android device. Once installed, it looks almost identical to the real deal except for one important difference that should be a hint at the motives behind the malware version. The icon for the real Dog Wars app has the word "Beta" written at the lower right of the icon, while the rogue version says "Peta" instead.

A Symantec spokesperson explains that once you start the app, the Trojan kicks into action. "Using software packages and services aptly named "Dogbite" and "Rabies," it first sends out the following text message to everyone on the contact lists of infected devices: "I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just thought you should know that."," adding, "The threat then goes one step farther by attempting to register compromised devices for a text message alert service operated by PETA."

As a side note, there is actually an app in the iPhone App Store called Dog Wars. However, it is absolutely nothing like this one and it is completely unrelated. The iPhone version is apparently a different sort of attempt to prey on those looking to viciously fight dogs, but it just makes stupid barking noises.

Personally, I don't see dog fighting as any more graphic or offensive than assassinating people in Contract Killer, or shooting people in the head from long range in Sniper. If you are going to download Dog Wars, be careful where you get it from and pay attention to make sure you don't have the Trojan malware version.

The good news for Google and for most Android users is that this hacktivist malware app does not appear to have infiltrated the official Android Market.

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