Windows – Why have 40+ processes of iexplore.exe been spawned

internet explorerprocesswindows 7

My system ( Dell Inspiron 1520, Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz, 2 GB RAM, 160GB HDD, 8600m GT) was acting a bit sluggish, so I launched Process Explorer, and when I saw the process tree I was astounded:

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Why are so many processes running ? I don't use Internet Explorer. I use Steam so I suppose that's 1 app which uses the IE rendering engine. This is not the first time that its happened, I had to get a screenshot this time. I've run HijackThis, and had the logs scanned, but it doesn't show any malicious processes running.

Best Answer

I've seen this behavior on others machines before. I know you've run HijackThis already, but give MBAM (Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware) a try, it may have missed something. A lot of malware will try and "phone home" to give the coder information as to what the software is doing, or just as a notification that it's up and running on a remote machine. They may also be using your machine to visit other sites for various reasons (gaining ad revenue, DoS, etc). A lot of coders don't properly terminate these forked processes and this is what you get as a result.

I'd also download Sysinternals TCPView and see what these IE processes are connecting to.