Nano University

Microsoft Office Virus Prevention

By Yochai Greenberg, CTO

How To Prevent MS Office Hacks

One of the most common ways to hack a computer is with VBA Macros Based Malware. These are big words for a pretty basic technique:

  • A phishing email is sent to you from someone you know. This email can either arrive from a hacked email account or a random email account using someone’s name in your contact list.
  • The email contains an attached file that ends with the extension doc, xls, or ppt. Notice that the file’s extension is not docx, xlsx, or pptx!
  • Once you open the attachment and click on a popup box or another request in the file, your computer will get infected with malware.

Stay one step ahead of hackers and threats

If the phishing campaign is using new malware, your antivirus software will not detect the malware and your computer will get hacked. The rest is up to the malware. Here are things that can happen from this kind of malware:

  • Ransomware
  • Sensitive Data Theft
  • Your email account can get hacked
  • Online accounts hacked
  • Bank accounts hacked

So what can you do to prevent all this from happening?

First thing first – Do not open files that end with the extension doc, xls, or ppt! Modern MS Office products do not use doc, xls, or ppt as extensions, they use docx, xlsx, and pptx. Docx, xlsx, and pptx files cannot contain macros in them and are not used to spread that type of malware.

Second, disable macros on your end. Here’s what you need to know before changing the settings*:

  • Macro settings are located in the Trust Center.
  • When you change your macro settings in the Trust Center, they are changed only for the Office program that you are currently using. The macro settings are not changed for all your Office programs.

Here’s how to disable macros on Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint :

  1. Open Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, or Microsoft PowerPoint. You will need to change the settings on every software separately.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Click Options.
  4. Click Trust Center, and then click Trust Center Settings.
  5. In the Trust Center, click Macro Settings.
  6. Click on Disable all macros without notification. 
  7. Make the selections that you want, then click OK.

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