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New Tech Support Scam Causes Chrome Browser to Use 100% of the CPU (BleepingComputer) - Does not affect Firefox

2019-01-01 07:12 PM Comment(s)

A new tech support scam has been discovered that uses JavaScript to create a loop that ultimately causes Google Chrome to use up all of the CPU resources on the computer and freeze the browser.

This new tech support scam variant was reported in a Google Chrome bug report that states that once a user visits the page, the CPU utilization quickly goes to 100%. This makes it impossible to close the tab, the browser, or properly use the computer until the Chrome process is killed.

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My input on this, if you're experiencing this issue, be calm, you're not infected. Your computer is just non-responsive from using all of the CPU resources. The only damage this can do is if it stays this way for an extended period and doesn't have proper cooling, has a dirty or failing CPU Fan (hasn't been blown out/cleaned with canned air in a while).

Chrome can be killed via Task Manager. Hold Ctrl+Shift+Esc | Right-click the task bar by the Clock | Use Ctrl+Alt+Delete.

Under the PROCESStab right-click Google Chrome (#) > End Task, or under the DETAILS Tab find the highest CPU chrome.exe process(es), right-click and End Task them until the computer starts acting normally.

It may take a while for Task Manager to come up or respond to commands because the processor is maxed out by Chrome and has very little free resources to do what you're wanting it to do, so will take some patience on your part to get this done properly.

An alternative way to kill Chrome is the Run command, available with WindowsKey+R, or if you're already inside Task Manager: File > Run new task. In the new Run box type:taskkill /f /im chrome.exe

If after 5-7 minutes, try to shut down your computer gracefully: Windows Start Button > Shutdown. This may take a while as well, so be patient if you can.

After another 5-7 minutes, or if you are unable to get to Shut Down the previous way, quickly press and release the Power Button on the computer (Don't hold it in). 

If after another 5-7 minutes your computer still hasn't shut down, hold in the Power Button for @45 seconds, even after it has turned off and let it sit for at least 5 minutes (10 is better) to cool off after what it has been through.

Turn the computer back on.

If Chrome is configured to open previous tabs you had open during your last session, you're not done yet, because if you open it again, you're in the same position you were in when this all started. 

For now, you're better off starting Chrome in Safe Mode to make sure it doesn't load your previous tabs.

  1. Bring up the Run prompt with WindowsKey+R or in Task Manager: File > Run new task and copy/paste this into the run box (note the quotes, space, two [2] hyphens -- before incognito). 
  2. Depending on how your system is configured and Chrome installed, one of the following 3 options should work:
    • "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --incognito
    • "%PROGRAMFILES(x86)%\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --incognito
    • "%PROGRAMFILES%\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --incognito
    • If none of these work you can make a copy of a Chrome shortcut on your desktop, right-click > Properties > add [space] --incognito in the Target box after chrome.exe" 
  3. Settings > On Startup and change "Continue where you left off" to "Open the new tab page"
  4. Close and reopen Chrome normally.

Chrome may prompt you to Restore previous pages since it "crashed". Don't do this or you'll be in the same position. You can go into History and open specific pages you may need, but make sure to avoid the page you were on when this problem occurred or you'll likely have to go through this all over again.

If you'd like a Chrome extension that can help with situations such as this, restore lost tabs and sessions (selectively or entirely) when Chrome crashes, or if you ever want to save browsing sessions to go back to at a later time, check out Session Buddy: