Importance of The Crss.exe When You Are Planning For Threat Hunting

Smss.exe is a session manager subsystem that is actually responsible for initiating the user session. The process gets initiated by the main system thread and contributes to different activities like launching Winlogon and Win32. It also helps in setting up different system variables. Once it has launched all the process it will wait to create either Csrss or Winlogon. If this takes place normally, then this system will shut down and in case it happens in an unexpected manner, then the Smss.exe will cause the system to not respond anymore.

Smss.exe can be found in the subfolder of C:\Windows\System32 or sometimes in a subfolder of C:\Windows C:\Windows, in the directory of \System32\Event Agent\Bin\. It has the ability to record mouse and keyboard inputs, monitor the applications and can also manipulate different other programs. That is why it’s technical security rating of 71% is quite dangerous. If you are interested to know what is Crss.exe?, then keep reading the blog.

What is Crss.exe in Windows?

In the above segment, we came to know about Smss.exe and also mentioned about Crss.exe, right? So if you are wondering what is Crss.exe, then you must know that it is a crucial part of the Windows OS. Even before the Windows NT 4.0 was released back in 1996, Crss.exe was actually responsible for the whole graphical subsystem, that also includes the overall management of windows, and different Windows operating system functions.

When the Windows NT 4.0 was released, many of these functions were shifted to the Windows Kernel system from the Client Server Runtime Process. But, even after that, the csrss.exe process will be responsible for the console windows and also the shutdown process. Both these functions are really vital for Windows. Now, take a look at the other details about smss.exe thread and how it can prove to be a threat for your Windows operating system.

The Smss.exe Process in Details

The Smss.exe Process can manage to start the user sessions and different other activities that includes the launch of Winlogon.exe and the Crss.exe processes. It can set system variables and other functions. In case the two processes do end normally right after launch, then the Smss.exe has the ability to shut it down for the good. Let us now carefully analyze Windows processes and check out the hunting tips – 



Parent Process:


Number of Instances:

one instance for master and one child instance per session are the total number of instances available.

User Account:

Local System

Start Time:

just a few seconds of boot time for the master instance to start up


the Session Manager process is actually responsible for developing the new sessions. The very first instance creates a child instance for every new session. When the child instance is initiated, it starts the Windows subsystem and wininit.exe for the Session 0 or winlogon.exe for the Session 1 are available.

Final Words –

make sure to check that the Smss.exe is located in C:\Windows\System32 or else it has the potential to become a threat to the system like a virus or Trojan. It can affect and seriously corrupt different files in the PC. The threads like smss.exe or winlogon.exe, are normal and pose no risk. Remember that only one instance of smss.exe must run in the whole system. Any other thread must be shut down.