Skip to main content

That disruptive crypto mining tool has a dark secret

A tool that claimed to remove all the existing mining limits on several popular Nvidia GPUs has proven to be malware instead.

The Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker by Sergey was revealed as a program that would modify the BIOS of Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards in order to unlock full mining performance. However, following an early launch, it has now been discovered that the creator planned to spread dangerous malware to users.

A cryptocurrency mining rig from a computer graphic card.
A cryptocurrency miner attached to a laptop Getty Images

Initially due for a public beta version release next week on February 28, the tool was released yesterday on the developer’s GitHub page, which has since been removed. According to PCGamer, upon downloading and running the ‘LHRUnlocker Install.msi’ file, powershell.exe is deployed, a Windows service infected with malware. Tom’s Hardware also reports that a malware scan via Joe Sandbox confirms the tool attempts to block Windows Defender from detecting it.

As reported by PCMag, Russian data scientist Mikhail Stepanov offered some further insight into the malicious program that was posing as an Ethereum mining unlocker. The installer itself includes a Nvidia GeForce driver file that 18 different antivirus scans recognize as malware.

Stepanov, a cryptocurrency miner himself, attempted to unpack the installer and run it via a virtual machine. As opposed to a tool that could have once again changed the landscape of the GPU market, he found that the installer extracts a harmful driver file from a server located at “drivers.sergeydev[.]com.”

While the exact motive behind the developer’s decision to spread malware remains unclear, Stepanov provided a clue as to what it may have been. “This is a common Trojan,” Stepanov told PCMag. “Most likely they wanted to build a botnet.”

Botnets have become an effective method in installing crypto mining malware on systems, so it’s not farfetched to assume that Sergey may have been planning to generate crypto profits by taking advantage of users who downloaded his file. Of course, it makes perfect sense that Sergey wanted to build a crypto mining botnet. He could have been due to receive a huge financial windfall by mining on thousands or tens of thousands of computers without lifting a finger himself. He would also not have to pay for the electricity costs associated with such activity.

The timing of the Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker’s announcement was suspicious in and of itself when considering the current state of the cryptocurrency market. With prices falling across the board for some of the most popular coins such as Bitcoin and ETH, the whole crypto space is currently in free fall. Why would someone start mining now when it would take well over a year to even recoup the cost of just the Nvidia GPU?

Tom’s Hardware points out that cryptocurrency mining profitability has been continuing to decrease as of late. A full-speed RTX 3080 Ti will make a miner $3.50 per day. When factoring in the price tag of $1,700 for the GPU itself, it would take nearly 500 days to just break even.

Editors' Recommendations

Zak Islam
Computing Writer
Zak Islam was a freelance writer at Digital Trends covering the latest news in the technology world, particularly the…
Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti vs. RTX 4060: here’s how they stack up
nvidia geforce rtx 4070 review 04

Nvidia has three new GPUs to flesh out the RTX 40-series lineup: the RTX 4060 Ti 8GB, RTX 4060 Ti 16GB, and RTX 4060. These new graphics cards aim to be more affordable options to some of the powerful and expensive GPUs in Nvidia's line such as the RTX 4070, RTX 4070 Ti, 4080, and 4090.

We don't have our own performance data on these cards just yet, but here's a breakdown of everything we know about them so far.

Read more
Nvidia ditches the RTX 4070 as it turns to cheaper options
The RTX 4070 graphics card on a pink background.

Just as the RTX 4060 family of GPUs is being launched, a new report says Nvidia may be freezing production of its bigger brother, the RTX 4070. Sales of the RTX 4070 are reportedly so bad that the company has halted production in a desperate bid to turn things around. It’s just the latest bad news for a product that has been beset with problems almost from the day it launched.

As reported by Wccftech, the production stoppage is set to last until June, by which time Nvidia will be hoping sales have picked up. It’s apparently an extension of an earlier production slowdown, which reportedly began shortly after the RTX 4070 launched in April.

Read more
Here’s how Nvidia defends its RTX 4060 Ti’s memory controversy
nvidia rtx 4060 ti 8gb 16gb memory controversy nvidia02

The rumors are true: Nvidia has two versions of its new RTX 4060 Ti graphics card. These are the highly anticipated new midrange GPUs, and yes, one comes with 8GB of VRAM and one comes with 16GB -- and they're separated by $100 in price.

It's a head-scratching decision on a few different levels. Games that demand more than 8GB of VRAM are increasingly common, which is frustrating for those eying the $399 8GB model. What's more -- the RTX 4070 Ti comes with just 12GB of VRAM, despite costing $599.

Read more