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updated 8/16/2011 5:04:54 PM ET 2011-08-16T21:04:54

Animal rights protesters have taken sneaky and decisive action to shame users of "Dog Wars," a controversial dogfighting app that was removed from the Android Market app store in April.

Hackers have rigged older versions of the "Dog Wars" app with a Trojan that hijacks users' smartphones and sends out a mass text message to all their contacts reading, "I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just thought you should know that," the security firm Symantec reported.

(Once available in Google's Android Market, "Dog Wars" was removed in April but is still circulating on unauthorized file-sharing sites.)

The Trojanized dogfighting app looks nearly identical to the real one, except for one important letter substitution: the word "BETA" appears in the real app's logo; the manipulated Android app reads "Dog Wars — PETA," a nod to the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Symantec said there is no reason to believe PETA is involved with this, and "it is most likely the work of someone attempting to associate the app with PETA or to gain sympathy by the association.

Whoever is behind this scheme added another trick to call out those who download the corrupted version of what is already a corrupt app. The Trojan code implanted in "Dog Wars" automatically attempts to sign users up for a text message warning service operated by PETA.

No matter what app you are looking to download, make sure you're getting it from a legitimate app store and not from a third-party provider, which often harbors malicious apps. And make sure you install smartphone anti-virus software to detect and eliminate potential threats.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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