In this era, we find a lot of things changing and adapting; From Pokemon to vehicles to medicine to technology, everything is changing for the best. So are threats. Hackers are evolving. They are coming up with newer ways to get to you.
They have created programs that look like legitimate ones on your PC. The virus they dispatch is disguised using several methods to avoid being detected.
One such method is the COM surrogate. The COM surrogate is a Windows 10 sacrificial process that was designed to run extensions. You can find this in your Windows task manager.
If you find the COM surrogate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an infected computer. This article is all about how you kill the COM surrogate.
What Is “COM Surrogate” (dllhost.exe), and Why Is It Running on My PC?
The COM surrogate could be a hazardous version of the Component Object Model (COM). The COM is a file that runs in the background and is used by Windows. The general purpose of the COM is to supervise and create COM objects for Windows.
But the hostile version has other malicious ideas on its virtual mind. This idea of disguising Trojan horses came to hackers a while ago, and then they improvised this idea.
Because it is associated with the dllhost.exe in the, It is then known as the dllhost.exe 32 COM surrogate virus. This can extract sensitive information from computers and even infiltrate a bank account and steal money. Yes, we are talking about an extremely serious threat.
This big brain move by hackers is not new. They try to mislead the users by letting them assume that the COM surrogate is a normal executable. These hackers do not want you to know that any executables can be corrupted with viruses and other malware.
Separating Malicious executables from the Legitimate ones
It is impossible for us to locate the malicious exe files and the legit ones. But this can be done by scanning your computer with an anti-malware security scanner at the file’s location –
C:\Windows\System32. The Windows folder keeps all the data needed for the smooth functioning of the system. System 32 is the folder where the DLL files are located on your disk.
The Symptoms of a COM Surrogate virus presence
These are the possible symptoms that would be displayed by your computer if it contradicts a COM surrogate virus or malware.
- The task manager may display a lot of COM surrogate programs running in it. Some of them could be malware.
- The COM objects might occupy a lot of your CPU and increase its usage. Every known kind of malware uses a lot of CPU memory.
- The Operating System may become slow. The malware could be disturbing it.
- Running programs keep crashing, again and again. You might see a ‘This program has stopped working’ sign. This could be because of the malware.
If you experience any of the above, run a full system scan with antivirus software.
To remove the COM surrogate virus from your computer, one has to understand what the COM surrogate process is and what it does.
How does the COM surrogate work?
If you ever opened the task manager on your computer, you may have noticed one or more running tasks with the name “COM Surrogate.” This/These process(es) run in the file name dllhost.exe, and it is an integral part of the functioning of the Windows Operating System. It is the same for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.
This interface was designed by Microsoft many years back to attach itself to other processes running on your system and extend them. For instance, the file explorer of Windows uses COM objects to generate thumbnails of images or thumbnails of folders or videos.
This specific COM object supervises the process of creating the thumbnails. If this COM object crashes, it disrupts the host process of making thumbnails. This process, actually, got stopped too often that the developers came up with a fix, which is the COM surrogate process.
This COM surrogate process starts a helping COM object with the help of the process itself. For instance, A COM surrogate process is launched by File Explorer to generate thumbnails. If this gets crashed, only the COM surrogate is disturbed. The File Explorer process, running, remains intact.
Is the COM Surrogate process a Virus?
The COM Surrogate processes are just a part of the Operating System and not viruses. But they can be manipulated to be harnessed by malware. Most malware uses the dllhost.exe to infiltrate and corrupt the system.
If you notice anything suspicious about these processes, like high CPU usage, There are chances that it is malware. You have to scan your computer with antivirus software. If you do not have one, this is your reminder to download an anti-virus and run a full scan, just to be safe.
Can the COM surrogate be disabled?
No. The COM surrogate Windows process is an integral part of the OS. If this was disabled, a lot of COM objects might not function. These were created by one program to run another program. So even when you try to disable it through the task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), you cannot do it.
It was attempted to disable it by selecting the active COM surrogate process and clicking on the End Task button in the task manager. But the COM surrogate process popped up again when the task manager opened it again. Therefore, it is proved that the OS doesn’t let you kill it, even if you want to.
Note: This experiment resulted in the same outcome for Windows 7, Windows 8, and also Windows 10.
How to Remove COM Surrogate from your system files
You will want to remove the malware infections immediately, when you notice that your computer has malware infestations. This is something you have to look into and fix it at once unless you are okay with your confidential files being outed by an illegal cyber threat.
This is how Windows users can remove the COM surrogate virus from running.
Step 1. Identify the COM Surrogate Virus using an Antivirus
The first step in the removal of the COM surrogate virus is finding the location of the infected file in a folder on your disk. You can not find it without the help of antivirus software. You will have to run a full system scan of your storage disk. This scan can easily take between 2 to 4 hours based on the size and number of files you have on your computer. Do not cancel or stop the scan once you notice the infected file that you wish to remove. Once the scan is complete, dangerous files will be located and put in quarantine.
Step 2. Remove the COM Surrogate Virus Infection and Delete Any Other Infected Files
Once the scan is finished, you will be able to see a list of all the suspicious and infected files being quarantined. You can delete them, or if you know about viruses and antivirus on an advanced level, you can take a look at the files before they are deleted to retain the safe files. Once you are done, restart your computer for the changes to be applied. For safety, run another complete scan. This can remove traces that may have stuck behind.
Step 3. Don’t let your computer be re-infected
If you did the steps above, your computer had malware infections before. It happened once, and it can happen again. It is the responsibility of the users to make sure that your system remains safe.
These are the steps for the removal of the infestations. The removal of any threat is essential to your system.
How to prevent from getting COM surrogate virus
This is how you can protect your system by preventing the COM surrogate or any other malware from affecting your Windows system.
- All your Drivers, Software, and Operating systems must be up-to-date. The latest software means you are protected from the latest threats.
- Watch out for suspicious links and downloads on the internet. These downloads can be dangerous. Keep your eyes peeled for downloads that happen without your actions.
- Protect your wireless internet connection. If you use a wireless connection, it is important that you secure it. Anyone who can connect to it can access many things. So, it is important not to let everyone be connected to it.
- Get an Antivirus for your system. An antivirus can save you a lot of danger and protect you from threats automatically. It will save you a lot of trouble if you download one. Proper software might cost you, but it is worth it.
These instructions are not just to keep the COM surrogate virus away from your computer. Following the above instructions can protect your Windows desktop from any kind of malware.
What should you do when a COM Surrogate doesn’t work?
This is what you should do when you do not see the COM surrogate process in your task manager.
1. Download a media codec to your computer.
A media codec can help in kickstarting a COM surrogate process and also in improving its processing.
2. Purchase or Update your Antivirus tool.
If you haven’t got one, please purchase an Antivirus tool to protect your computer. If you have one already, make sure you have the latest version of it. If not, update it for maximum security.
3. Close the COM surrogate through the Task Manager.
You might have received a message that says, “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in COM surrogate.” when you attempt to change the picture data. To resolve this issue, you can close the COM object. This is how it is done.
- Press the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys on your keyboard simultaneously to launch the task manager.
- Locate the COM surrogate from the list of running programs. Select it and end the process.
If you cannot find the COM object,
- Click on the Details tab in the task manager and find the dllhost.exe.
- Right-click the executable to trigger a pop-up menu. From this menu, choose End Task.
Once these steps are done, check if the issue has been fixed.
4. Using the Process Monitor to locate the Issue
You might have a media file that might be corrupt and causing trouble to the COM object. This can be found with the Process Monitor on a computer. As the initial step, the thumbnail has to be disabled. This is how you do it.
- Type in File Explorer Options in the search bar and open it.
- In the Explorer window, click on the View tab.
- In the advanced settings section, check the Always show icons, never thumbnails checkbox.
- Click on Apply and then click on Ok.
Once the Explorer work is done, you will have to remove the previously existing thumbnails.
- In the search bar, type in Disk Cleanup and open it.
- A disk checking process runs, and the Disk Cleanup window opens. If your hard drive is partitioned, you will have to select the drive which has the thumbnails in it. If not, you’re good.
- In the ‘Files to delete list, check the Thumbnails checkbox.
- Click Ok to delete the thumbnails.
The next few steps involve the Process Monitor, which you have to download. The Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring software for your Windows device.
- Run the procmon and locate the media file which the dllhost.exe is trying to access.
- Remove that file with the process manager.
- Turn the Thumbnails back on.
5. Register DLL files again
- Launch your Command Prompt as an admin.
- In the command prompt window, type in these two commands. Enter the second one when the first command is carried out.
- regsvr32 vbscript.dll
- regsvr32 jscript.dll
6. Check if the hard drive is functioning properly
If not for the other solutions, your hard drive may have faced crashes instead. Users have to check their hard drive for problems to make sure that it is functioning properly.
- Launch This PC.
- Right-click on the drive that you wish to take a look at and click on Properties.
- In the Tools tab of the drive’s properties window, click on the Check button.
The hard drive gets troubleshot, and the users will be notified if a problem is detected.
8. Remove the latest drivers
If the users notice that you had started facing problems right after installing a new driver, the removal of the driver is advised, just to be safe.
- Click Start and open the Control Panel.
- Open the Device Manager.
- Locate the driver that might have caused the problems.
- Right-click on it and select Uninstall device.
- Check the Delete the software for this device checkbox and click Uninstall.
- Restart the computer once the driver gets uninstalled.
9. Adding the surrogate to the Execution Prevention Exclusion list
- Type Advanced Search Settings in the search bar. Open View Advanced Search Settings from the search results.
- Under the Advanced tab, in the Performance section, click on the Settings button.
- Select the Data Execution Prevention Tab.
- Click on the small circle next to the Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select.
- Select add and Open file location (C:\ Windows \ System32) and select the dllhost.exe file.
These are a few resolutions that can be done if something doesn’t work, in Windows 10.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does COM Surrogate mean?
The COM surrogate is a process that enables other processes to run on the computer. This is very vulnerable and can be used as a camouflage for a threat that could infiltrate your device.
Can I kill the COM surrogate?
No, the COM surrogate cannot be killed. You cannot kill these processes; they start again when the task manager is opened again. Also, programs need it.
How many COM surrogates should be running?
Under normal circumstances, there could be any number of COM surrogate processes varying from 1 to 15 at any point in time.
Is COM Surrogate a virus infection?
No, the COM surrogate is not a virus infection. It is just a process that can be used by malware to blend in with system files.
Where is the COM Surrogate located?
The COM surrogate is located in the System32 folder on a Windows Computer. This folder has all the exe and DLL files that are essential for the functioning of Windows 10.