What is Mshta.exe

Microsoft (R) HTML Application host - Microsoft® Windows® Operating System - Microsoft Corporation

File description

Mshta.exe with description Microsoft (R) HTML Application host is a process file from company Microsoft Corporation belonging to product Microsoft® Windows® Operating System.
The file is digitally signed from Microsoft Windows - Microsoft Time-Stamp Service
We do not recommend removing digitally signed files from Microsoft Windows

What is mshta.exe?
This is the Microsoft HTML Application Host. The purpose of this process is to execute HTML applications (.hta files).

The execution of this process is not essential to the operation of the system, in that it need not run for the system to function correctly. It should not, however, be deleted, as it could cause system instability. If the HTML application that it is running is misbehaved, however, it is safe to kill. The screenshot below illustrates how it should appear in the task manager:

Although in this screenshot mshta.exe is running as the current user (in this case, Mike), it can conceivably run as any user. A process with this name running as a different user is not necessarily indicative of a malware infection.

Dangers of mshta
As this is the name of a legitimate system process, it is common for virus writers and spyware vendors to disguise their malware as the genuine one.

Some malicious files will have the same name but will be stored somewhere other than in %SystemRoot%\System32. Other malware will use a name that appears similar to that of the legitimate one but with slight differences in spelling or with appended digits. The following malware is known to disguise itself as mshta.exe:
  • W32/Mimail-S (C:\ms.hta, runs as the real mshta.exe)
    • This is a mass-mailing worm that displays a box asking for your credit card information in an attempt to steal your information.
There could be several copies of this process running at a given time for any user. The presence of multiple instances is not necessarily a cause for concern. Note that since the Microsoft HTML Application Host can run any .hta application, it is possible for your system to be infected by a .hta script that is running within the legitimate HTML Application Host. If you see this process running, you may wish to investigate further.

Common problems
  • This process uses 100% of the CPU
    • It is possible that you have spyware or a virus. Since this process can execute any .hta script, the fact that mshta.exe is a legitimate executable does not mean that what it is running is.
  • McAfee Anti-Virus is warning you of potential malicious activity when using the Control Panel
    • This is likely a bug in McAfee's software; however, you should ensure that you do not have any malicious .hta scripts on your computer. Update McAfee and run a virus scan.

Automatic startup locations

001 Running Processes
003 Autorun registry entries Current User
004 All users startup startmenu
007 Roaming Start Menu\Programs\Startup
010 Installed services
013 RunOnce registry entries S-1-5-XX users
065 Image File Execution Options (debugger)
073 %windir%\Tasks
135 Current User Runonce (+ subkeys)
136 Local Machine Runonce (+subkeys)

Digital signatures found for this file

10 Microsoft Windows - Microsoft Time-Stamp Service
6 Microsoft Windows Publisher - VeriSign Time Stamping Services Signer
6 Microsoft Windows Component Publisher - Microsoft Timestamping Service
3 Microsoft Windows - Microsoft Timestamping Service
2 Microsoft Windows - VeriSign Time Stamping Services Signer
1 Microsoft Windows XP Publisher - VeriSign Time Stamping Service

MD5 security rating in our database

19 files (Not yet rated and not signed)
5 files (Not yet rated and digitally signed)
2 files (Safe and not signed)
29 files (Safe and digitally signed)
Some versions of this filename have not yet been checked for safety.
Warning: Some malware might rename itself to mshta.exe. Always make sure that your file is from a verified publisher.

User ratings for this file

File rating: Average rating of mshta.exe: by 55 files and users.

Application errors

Fix mshta.exe application error:  Run a FREE registry scan

User comments

if you have multiple instances running in task manager open scheduled task folder delete entries with names similar to At1 and kill the processes in task manager and reboot this should solve the issue

Please add your comments if you have more information about this file or if you know how to solve mshta.exe application errors.

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