When using applications of all kinds we can suffer computer attacks. Cyber criminals can use multiple strategies to achieve their goal of stealing passwords and compromising privacy. But sometimes we find important improvements that make it safer to surf the web or use certain programs. This is what happens with Excelthat since now it will be safer for a change that they are going to introduce. We tell you what it consists of.
Excel now blocks XLL add-ins by default
The novelty that Microsoft introduces in Excel is that it will block XLL plugins by default they are not trusted. This is going to affect everyone who has Microsoft 365 and uses Excel. This change will be generally available at the end of March.
As indicated by Microsoft, the idea is to block all XLL plugins that come from untrusted locations. Until now they represented a threat, since they were used by hackers to launch their attacks. By blocking them by default, security is increased.
When a user of Microsoft 365 use Excel and open an XLL add-in that comes from an insecure location, you will receive a warning message. That alert will inform you of the potential risk and allow them to learn more about why.
The aim of all this is to stop the increase in malware campaigns who use Office to sneak viruses and steal passwords. It is undoubtedly a method that has been widely used by hackers in recent years. These campaigns take advantage of Office formats to reach the victim and defraud.
Keep in mind that this is not the first measure that Microsoft has taken to solve these problems. They previously disabled macros in Excel 4.0 or added XLM macro protection. Now they also extend it to XLL plugins, which are widely used to create custom functions, dialogs or toolbars, but are also used by cybercriminals for Phishing attacks.
Large increase in attacks in recent months
Behind these attacks are many groups of hackers. They have launched various campaigns to achieve their goal of infecting the victim, stealing data and passwords. But in recent months there has been a significant increase. For example, from HP’s team of threat analysts, they detected that in January 2022 attacks using XLL increased more than 5 times. In addition, in recent months the trend has been increasing.
However, keep in mind that you will always be able to have certain security risks. Beyond news like this that we mentioned, it is essential that you take measures in your day to day to be protected on the network. You should always have a good antivirus installed, as well as everything updated to correct vulnerabilities. You can always put a password on an Excel or Word file.
As you can see, from now on it will be somewhat safer to use Excel. This new feature will prevent attacks that exploit XLL plugins. However, you will always have to take certain preventive measures to really improve your security.