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Do not trust the CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED error displayed on scam websites

Also Known As: "CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED" tech support scam
Damage level: Medium

What is "CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED"?

"CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED" is a fake error/stop code, the notification of which appears on a technical support scam website. Scammers behind this web page attempt to trick visitors into calling the number provided and paying for a supposedly legitimate technical support service.

We strongly advise against trusting this scam or calling the people (cyber criminals) responsible for it. People do not generally visit these sites intentionally - they are redirected to them through other dubious web pages, deceptive ads, or by installed potentially unwanted apps (PUAs).

CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED scam

This technical support scam states that the security system has detected an attempt to gain access to the visitor's bank logins and other banking-related details. It also states that this attempt was blocked with the Firewall, however, visitors are advised to temporarily block all accounts and take necessary security measures.

They are encouraged to check current system security and stability immediately by calling the +1 (855) 723-3755 number, which is disguised as the number of the Microsoft Support/Help Desk. This scam site also asks visitors to provide their Windows usernames and passwords.

There are a number of other cases whereby scammers claim to be members of the Microsoft support team. Note that Microsoft has nothing do to with any of these 'technical support', or other, scams. Generally, people who call scammers are offered paid services or software.

The scammers behind such scams attempt to extort money from unsuspecting people. If your browser opens this, or another scam, ignored it and close the website. If this cannot be done normally (by closing the opened tab or window), end the browser process through Task Manager. Do not restore the closed browsing session, since this will reopen the same scam website.

These scam websites are usually opened by a PUA that is installed on the browser and/or operating system. These apps usually gather browsing-related information. For example, IP addresses, entered search queries, addresses of opened websites, geolocations, etc.

Sometimes they also record sensitive, personal information. The developers can then sell the details to third parties who misuse them to generate revenue. Some of these parties might be cyber criminals. PUAs often serve intrusive advertisements in the form of coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups, and so on.

The ads conceal underlying content of visited websites and, if clicked, also open untrustworthy websites or execute scripts designed to download and/or install other unwanted apps. PUAs can lead to problems relating to online privacy, browsing safety, and other issues. Furthermore, users risk having their identities stolen.

Threat Summary:
Name "CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED" tech support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim According to this tech support scam page, it has detected an attempt to gain access to the visitor's banking details.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1 (855) 723-3755
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Many deceptive websites are used to trick unsuspecting people into paying for supposedly legitimate services and/or software. Typically, these web pages display fake virus, error alerts and other fake notifications. Examples of other scams are "Activation Warning Alert", "Microsoft Protected Your Computer" and "Call Microsoft Helpline". 

Potentially unwanted apps that make browsers open these deceptive websites are also very similar. In most cases, they open untrustworthy websites, collect information and serve intrusive ads. They are often promoted as useful and legitimate apps, however, they are useless and cause various problems.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Generally, people do not download or install PUAs willingly - they are tricked when these apps are included as additional offers in the download and/or installation set-ups of regular software. This PUA distribution method is called "bundling". Typically, offers to download and/or install PUAs are mentioned in settings of set-ups such as "Custom", "Advanced", and other similar sections.

To prevent PUAs from being downloaded/installed, you must change the settings (dismiss offers to download and/or install unwanted apps), however, many people often fail to check them, thereby granting PUAs permission to be installed/downloaded. They are sometimes downloaded or installed through deceptive ads - if clicked, these execute certain malicious scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

The safest way to download software and files is using official, trustworthy websites and direct links. Various third party downloaders, installers, torrent clients, eMule (and other Peer-to-Peer networks), unofficial websites, etc., should not be used.

Do not finish any download or installation process without checking "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings that are included in the setup. Dismiss offers to download and/or install unwanted software. It is not safe to click intrusive ads (especially if they are displayed on untrustworthy websites).

These can lead to other dubious websites or cause download/installation of potentially malicious apps.

Finally, remove all unwanted extensions, plug-ins and add-ons from the web browser, and software of this kind from the operating system. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in the left pop-up window of the "CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED" scam website:

Windows Security
Microsoft Edge
The server ****** is asking for your user name and password.

That server also reports:
"__________
System_Protect_-_PROTECT_ERROR_0xEB6468728
Contact_Microsoft_Support__+1_(855)_723-3755_Toll-Free.
__________".

Text presented in the right pop-up window of the "CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED" scam website:

Microsoft Edge

Stop code: CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED | Error Report
Security system has detected the threatening attempt to gain access to your bank logins and related data, but this dangerous connection was blocked with Firewall and further data leak was prevented.
We strongly recommend you to perform temporary block of all your accounts, and take some necessary security measures.
Despite the timely blocking of the connection, there is still a serious threat of private data stealth.
Please don t wait to respond, every minute is important!
There is possibility that virus already hurt your disks or destroyed and stole its data.
It is reason for checking current system security and verifying its stability.
Do not spend your time and immediately call us or contact our service center support team.
------------
Contact Microsoft Support:
+1 (855) 723-3755
------------
We are waiting for your rapid responce to help you
Please contact our administration to solve this issue.
Call Help Desk:
+1 (855) 723-3755

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Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

Windows 11 users:

Accessing Apps and Features in Windows 11

Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.

Windows 10 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

macOS (OSX) users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

PUAs uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "critical_process_died" tech support scam, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "critical_process_died" tech support scam, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions", in the opened window remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with "critical_process_died" tech support scam removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "critical_process_died" tech support scam, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED tech support scam QR code
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