MS Office doc dangers: Macros & enabled content pose risks

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Macros are small bits of programming used in Microsoft Office docs to automate tasks. Unfortunately, they can also spread viruses and malware, and anti-virus programs cannot always catch them. Infected Office docs are typically spread through email attachments or download links, or even through cloud services like Office 365.

What you can do

  • If you were not expecting an email attachment or shared doc check with the sender before opening it.
  • Look at the URL/address. Hover over links in emails with your mouse to reveal the actual URL or web address. If it is not a familiar address or a service U-M uses for document sharing, don’t click.
  • Preview the doc in U-M Google Drive. Google will not run Microsoft macros, making it a reasonably safe way to save and preview Office docs if you are not sure what it is in them.

What not to do

  • Do not enable macros or content. Check with the document owner/sender and ask them if macros need to be enabled and why.
  • Do not open or download a document from an unfamiliar sender. Look at the “from” and “reply to” lines, and do not open or download if the sender is unknown to you.
  • Do not open or download a document shared or stored on a system or service you are unfamiliar with.

See Phishing & Suspicious Email for more about avoiding online dangers.