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Nvidia's stolen data is being used to disguise malware as GPU drivers

Image of a trojan horse, with the Nvidia logo in the top right.
(Image credit: TwilightEye, Getty)
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Because of leaked data linked to an Nvidia hack by a group calling itself Lapsus$ (opens in new tab), stolen code-signing certificates are being used to gain remote access to unsuspecting machines, and otherwise deploy malicious software.

According the Techpowerup (opens in new tab), the certificates are being used to "develop a new breed of malware," and BleepingComputer (opens in new tab) lists Cobalt Strike beacons, Mimikatz, backdoors, and Remote Access Trojans (RATs) as just some of the malware being deployed by this means.

If you're not aware, a code-signing certificate is something devs use to sign off executable files and drivers before rolling them out to the public. It's a more secure way for Windows and prospective users to verify the ownership of the original file. Microsoft requires kernel-mode drivers to be code signed, otherwise the OS will refuse to open the file.

If some hooligan signs off malware with a genuine code from Nvidia, your PC may not be able to catch the malware before it unpacks, and wreaks havoc on your system.

The recent digital siege of Nvidia saw Lapsus$ demanding the company release a hashrate limiter bypass (opens in new tab), a demand that was not met. The fallout resulted in not only code-signing certificates being leaked, but also 71,000 of employee's credentials, Nvidia's DLSS source code (opens in new tab), and perhaps even some next-gen GeForce GPU names (opens in new tab).

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Of course, it didn't take long for the leaked certificate codes to join the arsenal for hackers lurking around the web, who pounced on the potential to hide behind Nvidia's genuine codes in order to carry out their malevolent plans.

Now the codes are being used to sign certificates for Windows drivers, along with Quasar RATs, as VirusTotal shows (opens in new tab) currently, "46 security vendors and 1 sandbox flagged this file as malicious."

BleepingComputer, thanks to the keen reporting of security researchers Kevin Beaumont (opens in new tab) and Will Dormann (opens in new tab), notes the following serial numbers as those to look out for:

  • 43BB437D609866286DD839E1D00309F5
  • 14781bc862e8dc503a559346f5dcc518

Both codes are effectively expired Nvidia signatures, but your OS will still let them pass just the same. Just something to keep an eye on if you're thinking of downloading a file you think may have been tampered with. 

There are ways to tell Windows not to allow these signed codes through (opens in new tab), but may well be awkward to implement if you don't have a history in IT. They may also be a pain when you actually come to install a legitimately signed Nvidia driver.

As always, stay safe out there.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.