Symantec says that a Trojan Horse program aimed at Android users shames its victims by sending a text message to everybody in their address books. The typo-riddled message says:
Hey, just downlaoded a pirated App off the Internet, Walk and Text for Android. Im stupid and cheap, it costed only 1 buck. Don’t steal like I did!
The Internet security company says the malware - which it likens to the Trojan Horses that have long troubled computer users - is being inadvertently downloaded onto Android phones by visitors to "several renowned file sharing websites throughout North America and Asia." Symantec says the program, Android.Walkinwat, is being "presented as a non-existent version (V 1.3.7) of Walk and Text, an application that is available on the Android Market." Symantec warned here today of the risk.
Piracy plagues everyone who creates and wants to sell intellectual property, even if it's just a $1.50 Android app that promises to help people "see what is going on in front of you on the road while walking and typing.... Type and Walk without fear!" But a Symantec spokeswoman called this is the first known example of "digital vigilante justice," or "hacktivism," used to send an anti-piracy message to phone users.
The motives of hackers are often obscure, and this case is no different. Symantec suggests that the moralizing might have a commercial goal - perhaps to undermine the publishers of the actual app, Walk and Text, that it uses as a lure. (Another possibility is that it was meant to help the makers of the legit app, since it's generating loads of publicity. It ends with the message: "We really hope you learned something from this. Check your phone bill; Oh and dont forget to buy the App from the Market.")
I'm not sure if there's any broader meaning here, though the Symantec spokeswoman tried reaching for one, asking: "If everyone we’ve ever talked to was text messaged when we did something bad, would the world be better?"
I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing that might finally be the hack that crashes the whole system.