Microsoft says no to macros on Office to protect against malware

Microsoft has decided to take a new step to strengthen the security of its Office office software suite. Indeed, the manufacturer intends to block macros downloaded in Office files. By doing so, the Redmond firm hopes to limit the spread of malware via Office.

microsoft office macros
Credits: Unsplash

If you’re an experienced Excel user, you’re probably familiar with macros. If not, let’s say it’s a means of memorizing a sequence of tasks within software. As Microsoft describes, “a macro is an action or a set of actions that you can perform as many times as you want. When you create a macro, you are recording your own mouse clicks and keystrokes”.

If macros are therefore very useful for speeding up your work on Excel or other Office suite software, these small executable programs were quickly hijacked by hackers to easily deliver malware to their target’s machines.

In fact, Microsoft just announced automatic blocking of VBA macros (Virtual Basic for Applications) in Office files downloaded from the web. Thanks to this new procedure, the American company hopes to be able to limit the spread of malware via Office software.

Also read: Microsoft offers a promotion to users who have pirated the Office suite

Microsoft tightens security against downloaded macros

Note that macros from the Web were already blocked by default. Only, a simple yellow warning banner was affixed, and it was enough for the user to click on a button to lift the restriction. With this new protocol, the banner turns red and provides a link to a page that explains in detail the danger of macros downloaded from the Internet. Of course, the user nevertheless remains in control of his gestures. To accept the downloading of macros, however, it will be necessary to go through a complex manipulation:

  • Close document
  • Right click on the file
  • Select Properties and check the Unblock box
  • Open the file again to download the macros

This change will first be available for users of the Office version, before being extended to all Microsoft Office 365 users from June 2022. This change will also affect all versions of Office since Office 2013. On the other hand , Mac, iOS, Android and Web versions of the office suite are not affected.

Source: Ars Technica

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