Industry News

Gamers warned of downloading fake Afterburner overclocking tool to boost graphics card performance

A leading manufacturer of gaming hardware has warned internet users to be wary of downloading fake versions of free software it distributes to overclock GPUs.

According to a blog post by MSI, cybercriminals have created a fake version of the MSI website and are using it to distribute a malware-laced version of their free utility, Afterburner.

MSI Afterburner is the most popular GPU overclocking software available, and highly regarded by gamers for its ability to squeeze out maximum performance, and compatibility with even non-MSI graphics cards.

However, as MSI acknowledges, although it hopes to make it available download again soon the legitimate link for the Afterburner software has been unavailable due to what the manufacturer describes as “routine maintenance”.

With no download available, it appears that cybercriminals seized the opportunity to create a bogus download webpage with a similar-looking domain, purporting to contain the Afterburner software.

At the time of writing, the malicious webpage detailed by MSI in its warning appears to be inaccessible – but, of course, there is nothing to prevent a criminal from creating additional download sites from which they may attempt to distribute bogus versions of the Afterburner software.

The problem, of course, is that if gaming enthusiasts are desperate to find the latest version of a tool and cannot download it from its legitimate official website they may well scour elsewhere on the internet for it.

It’s a similar scenario to the situation we have seen in the past, where computer users have attempted to avoid spending money by downloading pirated software from torrent sites or installing cracks onto their PCs.

MSI isn’t the first company to have had cybercriminals create fake versions of its website in the hope of duping unsuspecting users, and it certainly won’t be the last.

MSI is not the villain in this story – the criminals who created the bogus website, and have used the opportunity to spread malicious code are the ones with whom you should be angry.

The gaming hardware manufacturer says it condemns the infringement of its rights and any damage that may have been done to its reputation, and is taking “necessary actions” to shut down the malicious site.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.