Microsoft hasn’t yet released Windows 11, but the new operating system is already available as a preview build to Windows Insiders and testers. This makes the upcoming Microsoft operating system more vulnerable to attacks from hackers and other malware, since it is not the final version with all the security and safety features that Microsoft will bring with Windows 11. Cybercriminals are reportedly already are exploiting this. A report from anti-virus maker Kaspersky indicates that cybercriminals are slipping malware to users that is disguised as Microsoft’s new operating system.
In June this year, Microsoft announced the next version of Windows that will succeed Windows 11. Windows 11 comes as one of the most significant overhaul of Microsoft’s popular operating system for computers. Windows 11 comes with a slew of new features and a user interface design overhaul and will be rolled out to end users later this year. However, the company has launched a preview build of Windows 11 for developers and those who want to try out the upcoming OS in a pre-release build. Mostly enthusiasts, tech journalists, and developers are the ones that have opted for the preview build.
Now, although Microsoft has made the process of downloading and installing Windows 11 from its official website fairly straightforward, many still mistake other sources to be the Microsoft site and download the software, which often contains malware (and isn’t necessarily Windows 11 at all). According to a report from Kaspersky, the most straightforward way cybercriminals deceive users is by slipping in something extra (or else). One example involves an executable file called 86307_windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator.exe. With a file size as large as 1.75GB, it certainly looks plausible. In fact, though, the bulk of that space consists of one DLL file that contains a lot of useless information.
Opening the executable starts the installer, which looks like an ordinary Windows installation wizard. Its main purpose is to download and run another, more interesting executable. The second executable is an installer as well, and it even comes with a license agreement (which few people read) calling it a “download manager for 86307_windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator” and noting that it would also install some sponsored software. If you accept the agreement, a variety of malicious programs will be installed on your computer. Kaspersky said that its products have already defeated several hundred infection attempts that used similar Windows 11–related schemes. A large portion of these threats consists of downloaders, whose task is to download and run other programs. We will tell you how to download Windows 11 without falling prey to such malware attacks.
Where and how to download Windows 11 safely
- Download Windows 11 from official sources only, as Microsoft advises. So far, Windows 11 is officially available only to participants in the Windows Insider program.
- To upgrade your Windows 10 computer to Windows 11, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program > activate Dev Channel.
- We don’t recommend running the update on your main computer; prebuilds can be unstable.