What you need to know
- Microsoft Office will block macros from the internet by default starting on July 27, 2022.
- Macros from the web are frequently used by attackers to get malware and other malicious software onto PCs.
- Microsoft initially planned to block macros by default earlier but delayed the change due to user feedback.
Microsoft's macro saga continues, though it appears to be marching toward a conclusion. The company originally planned to disable macros from the internet by default in Microsoft Office but delayed that plan.
"Based on feedback, we’re rolling back this change from Current Channel production. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received so far, and we’re working to make improvements in this experience," said Microsoft's Wenjun Gong in a Tech Community post (opens in new tab) earlier this month. "We’ll provide another update when we’re ready to release again to Current Channel. Thank you."
That update has since arrived. Microsoft confirms in a support document (opens in new tab) that macros from the web will start being disabled by default on July 27, 2022.
Macros are a useful feature that can automate work and streamline workflows, but they can also be used to execute attacks on unsuspecting victims.
"VBA macros are a common way for malicious actors to gain access to deploy malware and ransomware," states Microsoft in a support document. "Therefore, to help improve security in Office, we’re changing the default behavior of Office applications to block macros in files from the internet."
When people open files from the web that have macros attached, they'll see a security risk banner with a prompt to learn more. If clicked, the user will be taken to a Microsoft support site (opens in new tab) explaining the risks of macros.
Since useful and harmless macros can be shared, it's possible to allow them. The steps to do so vary depending on the type of file in question and where that file is located.
The block of macros will affect Office running on Windows. Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, and Word, are the only affected applications.
Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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