How To Remove Chrome.exe *32 Malware (Virus Removal Guide)

Chrome.exe is a background process used by Google Chrome, however in a recent attack, cyber criminals have disguised malware using this process name. If your computer is very slow and there are multiple instances of Chrome.exe *32, dllhost.exe or cmmon32.exe process …

Chrome.exe is a background process used by Google Chrome, however in a recent attack, cyber criminals have disguised malware using this process name.
If your computer is very slow and there are multiple instances of Chrome.exe *32, dllhost.exe or cmmon32.exe process running in Windows Task Manager, then your computer is infected with Trojan.Poweliks.

Let’s be clear about something, Chrome.exe is a legitimate background process used by the Google Chrome browser. It’s perfectly normal to have multiple Chrome.exe process running in the background.
We’ve written this guide because the Poweliks Trojan is abusing this process to load malware. You should follow the steps in this guide if you suspect that you device might be infected with malware.

Most often the users who are infected with the Poweliks trojan will see these Chrome.exe *32 process running at Windows start-up (usually more than 6 background process), and while using the computer they will experience very high CPU usage.

multiple Chrome.exe virus

Poweliks is not a regular piece of malware because it resides in the memory of the system and stores absolutely no file on the disk, making it more difficult to detect.
After compromising the computer, the malware creates registry entries with commands that verify for the presence of PowerShell or .NET Framework and for executing the payload.
Chrome.exe *32 (Poweliks trojan) is used by cyber criminals to display pop-up ads, thus generating advertising revenue.

What the Chrome.exe *32 (Poweliks) malware usually does?

If your computer is infected with the Trojan.Poweliks virus, this infection may contact a remote host for the following purposes:

  • To report a new infection to its author
  • To receive configuration or other data
  • To download and execute arbitrary files (including updates or additional malware)
  • To receive instruction from a remote attacker
  • To upload data taken from the affected computer

How do I know if Chrome.exe *32 malware or not?

If your machine is infected with the Chrome.exe *32 (Poweliks) you will see very high CPU usage, and multiple Chrome.exe process running in Task Manager and Windows Start-up. Please keep in mind that if you are using Google Chrome, it’s perfectly normal to have a few process running in background process, however these Chrome.exe should not slow down your system or use constantly very high CPU resources.

The easiest way to see if your computer is infected with malware running under the “Chrome.exe” name, is to open your Windows Task Manager by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL on your keyboard, right-click on the Chrome.exe *32 which you suspect is malware, and then click on “Open file location”.
The real Chrome.exe from Google should be located in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application folder. Any file named “Chrome.exe” located in other folder can be considered as suspicious.

Should you be uncertain as to whether Chrome.exe is a virus or not, we encourage you to submit the affected file to https://www.virustotal.com/en/ to be scanned with multiple antivirus engines

How did Chrome.exe *32 infection got on my computer?

The Chrome.exe *32 virus is distributed through several means. Malicious websites, or legitimate websites that have been hacked, can infect your machine through exploit kits that use vulnerabilities on your computer to install this Trojan without your permission of knowledge.

Another method used to propagate this type of malware is spam email containing infected attachments or links to malicious websites. Cyber-criminals spam out an email, with forged header information, tricking you into believing that it is from a shipping company like DHL or FedEx. The email tells you that they tried to deliver a package to you, but failed for some reason. Sometimes the emails claim to be notifications of a shipment you have made. Either way, you can’t resist being curious as to what the email is referring to – and open the attached file (or click on a link embedded inside the email). And with that, your computer is infected with the Chrome.exe *32 virus.

The threat may also be downloaded manually by tricking the user into thinking they are installing a useful piece of software, for instance a bogus update for Adobe Flash Player or another piece of software.

How to remove Chrome.exe malware (Virus Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide which will remove the fake Chrome.exe malware from Windows.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.

To remove the Chrome.exe *32 malware, follow these steps:

STEP 1: Use ESET Poweliks Cleaner to remove Poweliks Trojan

In this first step, we will run a system scan with ESET Poweliks Cleaner to remove the Poweliks Trojan that might be installed on your device.

  1. Go to Internet Explorer Settings

    Poweliks will change your Internet Explorer security settings so that you are unable to download files with it. To fix this, press the Windows key (Windows Key) on your keyboard, and while holding it down, also press the R key on your keyboard. This will open the Run dialog box as shown below.
    inetcpl.cpl
    Next, we will need to type inetcpl.cpl in the “Run” box to open the Internet Explorer settings.

  2. “Reset all zones to default level in Internet Explorer

    In Internet Explorer, click on the “Security” tab, then on “Reset all zones to default level” button. Click on “Apply” and “OK” to save these settings.
    Reset all zones to default level in Internet Exlorer

  3. Download ESET Poweliks Cleaner

    Next, we will need to download ESET Poweliks Cleaner from the below link:

    ESET POWELINKS CLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK
    (This link will download ESET Poweliks Cleaner on your computer)
  4. Run ESET Poweliks Cleaner

    Once the ESET Poweliks Cleaner tool has been downloaded, look for the file called ESETPoweliksCleaner.exe on your desktop and double-click it.
    ESET Poweliks Cleaner Icon

  5. Remove malicious files detected by ESET Poweliks Cleaner

    You will now be shown the main screen for the ESET Poweliks Cleaner and it will begin to search for the infection. If the tool detects Poweliks, it will state that it found it and then ask if you wish to remove it.
    ESET Poweliks Cleaner Removal
    If Poweliks is detected, then press the Y button on your keyboard. ESET Poweliks Cleaner will now remove the Poweliks trojan from your computer.


STEP 2: Use Rkill to terminate the Chrome.exe *32 Fake Windows Process

RKill is a program that will attempt to terminate all malicious processes associated with this infection, so that we will be able to perform the next step without being interrupted by this malicious software.

Because this utility will only stop the malicious process and does not delete any files, after running it you should not reboot your computer.
  1. Download Rkill.

    You can download RKill by clicking the link below.

    RKILL DOWNLOAD LINK
    (This link will open a new web page from where you can download “RKill”)
  2. Double-click on the RKill icon.

    Double click on Rkill program to stop the malicious programs from running.
    Start the Rkill program

  3. Wait for the RKill scan to complete.

    RKill will now start working in the background, please be patient while this utility looks for malicious process and tries to end them.
    Rkill Running

  4. RKill will stop the malicious programs. Continue with the other steps.

    When the Rkill tool has completed its task, it will generate a log. Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.
    Rkill Program


STEP 3: Use Malwarebytes to remove Chrome.exe *32 malware

Malwarebytes is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

The first time you install Malwarebytes, you’re given a free 14-day trial of the premium edition, which includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and specific protection from ransomware. After two weeks, it automatically reverts to the basic free version that will detect and clean up malware infections only when you run a scan. It is important to note that Malwarebytes will run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.

  1. Download Malwarebytes.

    You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the mb3-setup-consumer-x.x.x.xxxx.exe file to install Malwarebytes on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double-click on mb3-setup to install Malwarebytes Help
    You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    Windows asking for permission to run the Malwarebytes installer - Help Guide

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard which will guide you through the installation process. To install Malwarebytes on your PC, click on the “Agree and Install” button.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen - Help Guide
    Malwarebytes is installed on your PC - Help Guide

  4. Click on “Scan Now”.

    Once installed, Malwarebytes will automatically start and update the antivirus database. To perform a system scan, click on the “Scan Now” button.
    Start a scan with Malwarebytes

  5. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will now start scanning your computer for adware and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Malwarebytes scanning PC for malware - Help Guide

  6. Click on “Quarantine Selected”.

    When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine Selected” button.
    Click on the Quarantine Selected button to remove malware

  7. Reboot your computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes requesting to restart computer to complete malware removal process - Help Guide
    When the malware removal process is complete, you can close Malwarebytes and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 4: Use HitmanPro to scan for the Chrome.exe *32 virus

HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner that takes a unique cloud-based approach to malware scanning. HitmanPro scans the behavior of active files and also files in locations where malware normally resides for suspicious activity. If it finds a suspicious file that’s not already known, HitmanPro sends it to the their clouds to be scanned by two of the best antivirus engines today, which are Bitdefender and Kaspersky.

Although HitmanPro is shareware and costs $24.95 for 1 year on 1 PC, there is actually no limit in scanning. The limitation only kicks in when there is a need to remove or quarantine detected malware by HitmanPro on your system and by then, you can activate the one time 30 day trial to enable the clean up.

  1. Download HitmanPro.

    You can download HitmanPro by clicking the link below.

    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Install HitmanPro.

    When HitmanPro has finished downloading, double-click on “hitmanpro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “hitmanpro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows) to install this program on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    Double-click on the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide
    You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.Windows asking for permissions to run the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts.

    When HitmanPro starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below. Click on the “Next” button to perform a system scan.
    Click Next to install HitmanProHitmanPro final installer screen

  4. Wait for the HitmanPro scan to complete.

    HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for malicious programs. This process will take a few minutes.
    HitmanPro while scanning for malware - Help Guide

  5. Click on “Next”.

    When HitmanPro has finished the scan, it will display a list of all the malware that the program has found. Click on the “Next” button to remove the malicious programs.
    HitmanPro scan summary. Click Next to remove malware - Help Guide

  6. Click on “Activate free license”.

    Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your PC.
    Activate the free HitmanPro license keyEnter your email to complete the HitmanPro activation - Help Guide
    When the process is complete, you can close HitmanPro and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 5: Use Zemana AntiMalware Free to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs

Zemana AntiMalware is a free popular on-demand antivirus scanner which can detect and remove malware that even the most well-known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail to find.

  1. Download Zemana AntiMalware.

    You can download Zemana AntiMalware Free by clicking the link below.

    Zemana LogoZEMANA ANTIMALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download Zemana AntiMalware)
  2. Double-click on the setup file.

    Double-click on the file named “Zemana.AntiMalware.Setup.exe” to start the installation of Zemana AntiMalware. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    Double-click on the Zemana AntiMalware to instal it
    You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    Zemana AntiMalware UAC

  3. Install Zemana AntiMalware Free.

    Click on the “Next” button to install Zemana AntiMalware on your PC. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the install process.
    Click Next then follow the on-screen prompts - Help Guide

    When you reach the “Select Additional Tasks” screen, you need to opt-out the “Enable Real Time Protection” option, then click on the “Next” button.
    Opt-out the Real-Time protection Zemana Antimalware

  4. Click on “Scan”.

    When Zemana AntiMalware will start, click on the “Scan” button to perform a system scan.
    Click on Scan to perform a system scan - Help Guide

  5. Wait for the Zemana AntiMalware scan to complete.

    Zemana AntiMalware will now scan your PC for malicious files. This process can take a few minutes.
    Zemana AntiMalware scanning for malware - Help Guide

  6. Click on “Next”.

    When Zemana AntiMalware has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found. Click on the “Next” button to remove the malicious files from your computer.
    Click Next to remove malware found by Zemana AntiMalware - Help Guide

  7. Restart your PC.

    When the malware removal process is complete, Zemana AntiMalware may need to restart your computer. Click on the “Reebot” button to reset your PC.
    Zemana asking to restart PC - Help Guide


(OPTIONAL) STEP 6: Reset the browser settings to their original defaults

If your browser is being redirected or seeing unwanted advertisements, we will need to reset the web browser settings to their original defaults. This step should be performed only if your issues have not been solved by the previous steps.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has an option that will reset itself to its default settings. Resetting your browser settings will reset the unwanted changes caused by installing other programs. However, your saved bookmarks and passwords will not be cleared or changed.

  1. Open Chrome’s “Settings” menu.

    Click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Settings“.
    Google Chrome Settings Menu

  2. At the bottom, click “Advanced”.

    Chrome’s “Settings” should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your configuration. Next, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Advanced” link (as seen in the below example).
    Click on the Advanced button - Google Chrome Help

  3. Under the section “Reset,” click “Reset”.

    Chrome’s advanced settings should now be displayed. Scroll down until the “Reset and clean up” section is visible, as shown in the example below. Next, click on the “Reset settings to their original defaults” button.
    Google Chrome Reset button

  4. Confirm by clicking “Reset”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the “Reset Settings” button.
    Click on Reset to restore Google Chrome to its default settings

Mozilla Firefox

If you’re having problems with Firefox, resetting it can help. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history and open tabs.

  1. Go to the “Help” menu.

    Click on Firefox’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Help“.
    Click on the Firefox Menu button then select Help - Firefox Guide

  2. Click “Troubleshooting Information”.

    From the Help menu, click on “Troubleshooting Information“.

    If you’re unable to access the “Help” menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.

    Troubleshooting Information option in Firefox

  3. Click on “Refresh Firefox”

    Click the “Refresh Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
    Refresh Firefox button

  4. Confirm.

    To continue, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
    Confirm Reset Firefox

  5. Click on “Finish”.

    Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on the “Finish“.

Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.

Internet Explorer

You can reset Internet Explorer settings to return them to the state they were in when Internet Explorer was first installed on your PC.

  1. Go to “Internet Options”.

    Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon in the upper right part of your browser, then select “Internet Options“.
    Click on the Gear Icon then select Internet Options - Help Guide

  2. Select the “Advanced” tab, then click “Reset”

    In the “Internet Options” dialog box, select the “Advanced” tab, then click on the “Reset” button.
    In the Advanced tab click on the Reset button - Help Guide

  3. Click on “Reset”.

    In the “Reset Internet Explorer settings” section, select the “Delete personal settings” check box, then click on “Reset” button.
    Click on the Reset button to revert IE to its default settings - Help Guide

  4. Click on “Close”.

    When Internet Explorer has completed its task, click on the “Close” button in the confirmation dialogue box.
    You will now  need to close your browser, and then you can open Internet Explorer again.
    Click on the Close button - Help Guide

Microsoft Edge

Starting with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709), users can repair or reset the Microsoft Edge settings.

  1. Go to “Apps and Features”.

    Right-click on the Start Windows Start button button in the lower-left corner and select “Apps and Features“. This will take you directly to your list of installed programs.
    Go to Apps and Features in Windows 10

  2. Find Microsoft Edge, then select “Advanced Options”.

    The “App and Features” screen will be displayed with a list of all the programs installed on your PC. Scroll through the list until you find “Microsoft Edge”, click it, and then click on the “Advanced options” link.
    Microsoft Edge Advanced Options

  3. Click on “Reset”.

    The “Advanced Options” screen will now be displayed. Scroll down until the “Reset” section is visible, as shown in the example below. Next, click on the “Reset” button.
    Microsoft Edge Reset Settings


Your computer should now be free of the Chrome.exe *32 malware. If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove Chrome.exe *32 malicious process from your device, you can ask for help in our Malware Removal Assistance for Windows forum.

If we have managed to help you, please share this guide to help others.

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