MSI Afterburner Laced with Malware Circulating in the Wild

MSI Afterburner is arguably the most popular graphics card overclocking utility, and the best place to find it is the MSI website. There are several other sites that redistribute the utility, many of them are trustworthy PC enthusiast tech publications; but some of them are not. There are some dubious websites that are using SEO techniques to find their way into online search results, appearing to be download mirrors for MSI Afterburner. While some of these sites are just in it for some web-traffic ad revenue, others downright spoof the MSI website (i.e. are visual clones), and host redistributables of Afterburner, only these have a more sinister motive—to infect you with malware.

Cybersecurity researchers at Cyble identified such spoof websites that are visually identical to the MSI website; which host modified versions of the Afterburner software laced with malware. This malware can infect your PC with a multitude of bad stuff, including cryptojacking (using your PC’s system resources to mine cryptocurrency for the attacker); and data-theft. Cyble deconstructed the malware-laced Afterburner installer in a bid to identify its nature. Apparently it uses Monero XMR miner software to mine cryptocurrency. Apparently the attacker repackaged Afterburner into a custom installer that, in addition to installing Afterburner, fetches XMR miner from the Internet and infects Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) with a cryptojacking payload. The easiest way to avoid this is sticking to known sources such as the MSI website (; or known websites authorized to redistribute Afterburner. If infected, SFC (system file checker), coupled with Windows Defender or other popular antivirus software should help.