Microsoft Excel 4.0 flaw leave users vulnerable to malware

After decades of Excel-based Macro-viruses, Microsoft is finally doing something about it.

IT Departments can now disable excel macros via a group policy, instead of having to disable XML macros on an individual user by user basis. Better late than never!

Here is how to take action:

Microsoft has set the default setting to now prevent XLM macros from running. To change this setting admins can use the configurable Group policy editor:

1. Go to group policy settings.
2. Click prevent from running XLM macros

Why should you care?

Since Excel first allowed macros (called Excel 4.0 macros, or XML macros), users we able to add commands into cells in their Excel spreadsheet documents which could execute a programmatic task.

Macros are a feature which is largely used by advanced excel users, untouched by many (or most) of the folks out there using Excel.

The problem macros created was that they could be used to perform malicious tasks. Think about it: someone is more likely to open an excel document and assume it is safe, versus a random “.exe” file that might be attached to an email.

With this new update, we feel that it is very important to update group policies to disable macros by default – it is a straight-forward way to remove a lot of risk from your organization.

How can we help?

If you need any support in making this happen within your organization, please reach out to Britec.