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by John W. Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Protecting Users from Themselves

February 8, 2022

Document automation is a way for users to accomplish repetitive tasks in a much more efficient way. Microsoft has supported automation in Microsoft Office for several decades using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros. While macros can be good for users, they are also used by cybercriminals to deliver malware creating a huge security risk. The Verge reported that Microsoft is going to make using macros a heck of a lot harder for files downloaded from the internet. As Microsoft stated, “The default is more secure and is expected to keep more users safe including home users and information workers in managed organizations.”

Users will no longer be able to enable macros by a simple click of a button. Instead of the ‘Enable Content’ button, users will be presented with a security banner with a link and button to learn more. In other words, there will be no easy way to enable the macro. “The change to block VBA macros from the web will affect Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, and Word on Windows. Microsoft also plans to update Office LTSC, Office 2021, Office 2019, Office 2016, and even Office 2013 to block internet VBA macros.” While Microsoft is putting up more roadblocks to protect users from themselves, users can still jump through the hoops to enable macros and shoot themselves in the foot. Frankly, I haven’t seen a need for macros in an Office document for a very long time so why not just kill the function?

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