Fake Windows 11 installers are here, for it was only a matter of time until threat actors cashed in on interest in the new Microsoft OS. Kaspersky is tipping reports about an uptick in the volume of fake Windows 11 installers, all of which are designed to deliver adware and related malware payloads to PCs. The hook here is in hackers offering practically anyone a Windows 11 installer link, promising them to be a bypass to Microsoft’s Insider testing ring that presently has access to the upcoming OS.
Anton Ivanov, vice president of threat research at Kaspersky, has detailed the process that most of these fake Windows 11 installers are apparently following — which involve posing a download file that looks plausible enough in size and structure. As Ivanov notes, “Although Microsoft has made the process of downloading and installing Windows 11 from its official website fairly straightforward, many still visit other sources to download the software, which often contains unadvertised goodies from cybercriminals (and isn’t necessarily Windows 11 at all). The most straightforward way cybercriminals deceive users is by slipping in something extra.”
Such installers are, in fact, among the most rudimentary and brutish ways for attackers to target users. Most of these tools attempt to distribute adware, which are not entirely harmful per se. However, these tools have an incremental impact in terms of how harmful they can get — many such installers contain tools that can get installed in a system, and subsequently open the route for attackers to install more severe malware by exploiting a backdoor.
In most such attacks, it’s generally the user whose awareness needs to be improved. As Ivanov notes, users must refrain from downloading Windows 11 (or any software, for that matter) from any unofficial sources. Microsoft maintains a single way for users to download Windows 11 from, and if you cannot get into the process right now, you’d rather wait it out than try downloading something that may compromise your PC. Windows 11 will anyway arrive as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, so you need not be overtly worried about missing out.