If you use Microsoft Office on your Windows PC, you may want to keep an eye out for potential new security issues.
Microsoft has just reversed a decision it made earlier in 2022 and will no longer block Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros in Office files by default across Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access and Visio.
The backtracking means you no longer need to go to file properties, save the file to a specific location, or mark it as a trusted document to fully interact with a file that has macros enabled. Microsoft is now effectively rolling back to an older security system where you can simply click “enable content” to open Office files with macros.
This rollback choice also has huge security implications. While macros are popularly used to replace a repetitive series of keyboard and mouse actions in Office, they are also used by hackers. Those with bad intentions can unleash malware on unsuspecting users who open downloaded Office documents that have macros enabled. No longer blocking them by default could mean that Office users could be more open to these types of attacks.
An update to this decision was also announced in the Microsoft 365 message center, which is typically available for IT administrators to view important service notifications. Microsoft explained the change, saying it was based on feedback. It also seemed to suggest that an improvement may be coming soon. This feedback was first rolled out to a wider audience in June 2022, according to Bleeping Computer.
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve received so far, and we’re working to make improvements to this experience. We will provide another update when we are ready to re-release to the current channel. Thank you”, says the message.
Many Office users have noticed this change and have commented on Microsoft’s original announcement about blocking VBA macros. These users seem upset by the company’s communication about such a major security change and want Microsoft to be more transparent about its reasoning. Some were also upset about the extra steps initially required to unblock Office documents with VBA macros. It’s likely that IT administrators had a lot of headaches retraining users on how to enable macros.
In a statement to Bleeping Computer, Microsoft indicated that it has “nothing more to share” about why it is rolling back the change.
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