Lapsus$, a hacker collective headquartered in South America, has threatened to release software and firmware for Nvidia’s LHR (Lite Hash Rate) mining performance restriction. The new information, acquired via supposed screenshots of the group’s Telegram activity, comes on the heels of last week’s Nvidia hack, which the business is keeping under wraps.
But the organisation appears to be confident in the quality of the stolen data, as they’ve already put up an announcement for the sale of data that might enable the bypass of Nvidia’s LHR as implemented on the company’s GA102 and GA104 chips.
If Lapsus$’ threat comes true, any Nvidia 3000-series card from the RTX 3060 to the RTX 3090 might once again be turned into a mining performance powerhouse. Aside from the obvious, immediate consequences of more excellent profit rates for already-installed mining equipment, it’s unclear how this decision will effect the graphics card industry.
Given that Ethereum’s transition to Proof of Stake, dubbed “The Merge,” is expected to be completed in the first half of this year, anyone investing in additional cryptocurrency mining hardware – such as Nvidia graphics cards – would only have a limited amount of time to recoup their investment and turn a profit. This is especially true given the bitcoin market’s general downward trajectory since the beginning of the year.
Even as the market eventually returns to normal after more than two years of insufficient supply and pricing conditions, this could dissuade many miners from making another push for graphics cards. It’s worth noting, though, that the organisation is requesting that Nvidia remove the LHR limiter on its own in exchange for an “HW folder” containing stolen data not being published and circulated. It’s unclear why the company would ask Nvidia to lift the mining limiter on its own since the group claims to be selling an unlocker for most of Nvidia’s RTX 3000-series line-up, which could raise questions about the group’s claims’ authenticity.
Lapsus$ appears to be doing everything it can to force Nvidia to the negotiation table while also appearing to be courting the cryptocurrency mining community’s acceptance. The organisation claims to have stolen one terabyte of confidential data, including device schematics, driver and firmware data, documentation, secret tools and SDKs, as well as “everything about Falcon.” Falcon is a particular type of microcontroller that comes standard with all Nvidia GPUs and performs various tasks, including video decoding, memory copying, and security.
Falcon may thus be deemed ineffective depending on the sensitivity of the stolen data. The group claims it has yet to hear from Nvidia and has distributed some of the stolen data in the meanwhile. Sources who have seen the data say it backs up the group’s allegations.
At the very least, there’s reason to believe the group’s allegations are legitimate and that they have obtained valuable data from the 1 TB of data allegedly taken. Nvidia’s continuing quiet on the topic, stating merely that it is “investigating an event,” is unusual for a firm in such a situation. Even less so is the alleged Nvidia reverse-hack on Lapsus$, in which the company sought to ransomware the group’s data back. Lapsus$ has confirmed this, but the group claims to have cloned and backed up the data before the attempted infiltration, making Nvidia’s attempts futile.
This cloak-and-dagger back-and-forth between a mega-corporation like Nvidia and a hacker gang isn’t typical – perhaps Nvidia is taking its time to figure out how this would affect its business. As a result, the influence is unlikely to be insignificant.
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