People are getting malware from fake Windows 11 installers

People are getting malware from fake Windows 11 installers

It’s wild to have to say this, but if you’re planning to install Windows 11, you should get it from official sources. As it turns out, people who are using alternative methods to get Windows 11 are also getting some malware along with it, according to Kaspersky.

There’s one malicious file called 86307_windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator.exe. Based on the filename, one might guess that it includes Windows 11 build 21996.1, and on top of that, there’s something in it that will automatically activate Windows for you. It comes in at 1.75GB, so for some people, that might seem reasonable. It starts out looking like a normal installer, and then there’s a second installer that calls itself a download manager. If you accept the nonsense agreement that’s included, you get a bunch of malware.

That’s one example, but there are others. It’s not even surprising either. Windows 11 is available for testing to Windows Insiders on the Dev channel, malware-free. However, Microsoft has seriously bumped up the system requirements for the new OS; you need an Intel eighth-gen or AMD Zen 2 processor or newer. This is leaving people with older PCs looking for alternative ways of installing Windows 11.

It’s not impossible to do if you’re a bit savvy; we even wrote up a guide. You can do it using trusted sources too. However, using something like UUP Dump to build your ISO is time-consuming. Some people are looking for pre-made Windows 11 ISOs, and clearly, some of those have been injected with malware.

Malware can be anything from adware to a Trojan virus. Adware usually isn’t super dangerous. It’s just malware that’s meant to inject your PC with advertisements. Viruses can be more of an issue, and they can be harder to get rid of if your machine is infected.

Windows Defender does a good job of getting rid of this stuff. The only problem is that if you’re downloading Windows 11 from shady sources, you’re probably already set to click through the dozen or so warnings that pop up telling you not to install it.

It’s simple. For those that want Windows 11, just enroll your PC in the Windows Insider Program. If you really want an ISO, just wait a little while and Microsoft will make them available. If you can’t wait, use UUP Dump. And if your PC isn’t supported, keep in mind that Windows 10 is still supported until late 2025.

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.