Windows 10 Built-In Ads Showing Malicious Content

Windows Malvertising Featured

Microsoft has gone on record to say that Windows 10 will be their final operating system. Whether or not they fall back on this declaration is yet to be seen; however, with no sight of a “Windows 11” on the horizon, it’s clear that 10 is here to stay for at least a few more years.

This caveat does mean, however, that Microsoft has to rely on side revenue to keep the company afloat. In previous years they could release a new edition of Windows and ride off of the income. With this now out of the question, Microsoft has been experimenting with advertisements in the operating system.

Windows Malvertising Mail

These have had some negative reviews in the past. For instance, their Mail client suddenly began showing advertisements, which Microsoft quickly removed after backlash and claimed it was an “experiment.” Now the software giant is under fire once again after they showed malicious ads within Windows 10.

What Were the Ads?

Windows Malvertising Alert

The problem began when a malicious ad managed to creep into the pool of advertisements. Windows 10 queries this pool every time it wants to show an advert to the user. When the malicious advert receives a query, it automatically opens a webpage on the user’s computer. The content of this webpage was either a phony virus scan claiming the PC was infected or a fake prize giveaway claiming the user had won an iPhone.

Of course, if users weren’t very tech-savvy, these ads would trick them into believing it was real. After all, as far as the user knows, this ad was delivered to them by the operating system itself – so it has to be true.

Unfortunately, even if the user knows that the webpage was a scam, they may not realize what triggered it to open in the first place. This confusion could cause people to go on the hunt for a malware infection even though it was delivered by Windows 10 itself!

How to Avoid the Ads

Windows Malvertising Secure

Unfortunately, because these ads are due to Microsoft’s negligence to advertiser quality, there’s not a great deal that users can do to prevent these ads from appearing. Windows 10 has total control over what ads get shown, so there’s no quick fix to stop them.

Fortunately, the ads don’t instantly install malware on your PC. They have to rely on you clicking the webpages that they summon. As such, if you use Windows 10 and suddenly a phony ad appears, ignore it and close the tab. Nothing destructive will install itself due to the webpage opening.

You may also want to use other software until Microsoft fixes the problem. If you use Mail, you may wish to access your inbox via other means, such as your browser. If you rely on News for global updates, try visiting a news site. Should you hate the idea of malicious Windows ads lurking wherever you go, it may be worth using an older Windows version or different OS until this tides over.

Bad Ads

Windows 10 relies on advertising to get additional revenue from its users, but unfortunately, it appears the vetting on said ads hasn’t been stellar. It’s best to stay away from official Windows apps for the time being (or even the operating system itself!) until Microsoft weeds out the malicious advertisements.

After the Mail “experiment” and these bad ads, do you think Microsoft should find another way to gain revenue? Or is advertising the only option? Let us know below.

Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.


  1. “This confusion could cause people to go on the hunt for a malware infection even though it was delivered by Windows 10 itself!”
    Windows itself has been malware since Win 95 was introduced.

    “It’s best to stay away from official Windows apps for the time being (or even the operating system itself!)”
    Isn’t that kind of difficult since MS forces updates on its users?

  2. Got to be some way to stop ads, because I’ve never seen in ad in Windows 10

    All I’ve done is run O&O ShutUp10 and I’m behind a Pi-Hole

    I would not consider that being tech-savvy, any idiot can do it, I did

  3. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook… could disappear tomorrow and (as far as I’m aware) it would have zero effect on my life.

    Microsoft’s only contact with me is via github. Of course, back end stuff on servers – a different story. If it wasn’t for tech news: I wouldn’t even know Apple and Facebook exist.

    Google has found a way to entangle itself into my daily computing: even on most sites I visit. Amazon… they provide an enormous service: harder to leave them than it is to leave Google. Maybe Walmart will eventually figure out a way (before it’s too late for them).

    1. “Amazon… they provide an enormous service: harder to leave them than it is to leave Google.”
      It’s a matter of personal choices. To you Amazon provides an “enormous service”. To others Google does the same. I have never availed myself of any of the Amazon services so it’s no problem to leave them.

      Interesting that you should mention Amazon and WalMart in the same paragraph. I find that they are the same in one respect – perceived lowest prices. Until a couple of years ago, WalMart’s claim to fame was their supposed lowest prices. I found that with only a little effort I can get lower prices at other stores. I have the same for Amazon. With only a bit of effort, I can find items Amazon carries for lower prices at other online retailers. The one thing Amazon and Wally World offer is one stop shopping. We’re back to personal choices. What is more important, the convenience of buying everything from one retailer or saving money?

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