WD: Frequently Asked Questions About Word Macro Viruses

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Article ID: 187243 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

This article answers some of the more frequently asked questions concerning Word macro viruses.

MORE INFORMATION

  1. Q. What are Word macro viruses?

    A. Macro viruses are computer viruses that use an application's own macro programming language to distribute themselves. These macros have the potential to inflict damage to the document or to other computer software. These macro viruses can infect Word files, as well as any other application that uses a programming language.

    Unlike previous viruses, macro viruses do not infect programs; they infect documents and templates. Opening a document or template that contains a macro virus will infect your system and the virus will spread to other documents and templates you may have on your system. Some macro viruses are not harmful, but they can be annoying. However, there are some macro viruses that can be very destructive. Also, Word macro viruses can be spread across platforms; for example, the macro virus can infect files on the Windows platform, as well as files on the Macintosh platform.
  2. Q. How can I determine whether I have a Word macro virus?

    A. It is not always easy to determine whether you have a macro virus. If you are familiar with the Word macros you have on your system, you can look through the various macros for ones that you do not recognize. It is possible that one, or more, of them are part of a macro virus that has infected your system. Some examples of these type of macro names are: AAAZAO, AAAZFS, AutoOpen, FileSaveAs, and PayLoad.

    Some other things to look for are:
    • Unexplainable behavior on your system; for example, you may be prompted for a password on a file that you know does not contain a password or your document may be unexpectedly saved as a template.
    • Unusual error messages, for example:
      This one's for you, Bosco.
      -or-
      ROBERTA TI AMO!
      -or-
      Just to prove another point.
      -or-
      And finally I would like to say: STOP ALL FRENCH NUCLEAR TESTING IN THE PACIFIC!
    • Unusual changes to your documents; for example, the macro virus may randomly move three words then insert the word "WAZZU" at random locations.
  3. Q. How did I get the macro virus?

    A. You worked with a file that was infected with a Word macro virus. An infected file can be obtained any of the following sources
    disks
    networks
    email attachments
    modems
    the Internet
    You may want to obtain a current macro virus detection program to prevent obtaining future macro viruses and to get rid of your existing macro viruses.
  4. Q. If I have a Word macro virus on my system, can I accidentally spread the macro virus to others?

    A. Yes. You can spread a virus if you share files with others. A macro virus embeds itself into your file and can, most commonly, spread to others if you share files from a disk, network drive, external drive media, or any of a number of other file transfer methods. Files exchanged over the Internet can also spread the macro virus to others.
  5. Q. Can I get software that will prevent me from getting a Word macro virus in the future?

    A. Microsoft Technical Support recommends that you use a third-party company that provides Word macro virus detection and protection. There are many companies that provide this service. For additional information about third-party vendors of virus protection software, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    49500 List of Antivirus Software Vendors
  6. Q. Are there other ways that I can get a Word macro virus off my system?

    A. Yes, there are some temporary workarounds that you can use to clean a macro virus off your system. These methods will not prevent the future infection of your system.
  7. Q. I have Word and it always prompts me about the file I am opening containing macros. I don't share files or disks with others, I don't even download files from the Internet. Can I prevent Word from prompting me all the time with this warning?

    A. Yes, you can disable the macro virus warning, although Microsoft does not recommend it. To disable the macro virus warning:
    1. On the Tools menu, click Options (Windows) or Preferences (Macintosh)
    2. Click the General tab.
    3. Click to clear the Macro virus protection check box.
    4. Click OK.
    This macro virus warning will not appear anymore.
  8. Q. Word provides the macro virus warning when I open files that may contain macros, except when I open files from my templates folder. Why the difference?

    A. Word assumes that you know the files that you have saved to your templates folder. It also assumes that you know these files are safe. With this assumption, Word does not provide the macro virus warning when it detects macros contained in files from your template folders. The template folders that Word uses are defined by the User Templates and Workgroup Templates settings as specified in the File Locations tab in the Options dialog box.
  9. Q. My version of Word doesn't have the built-in macro virus warning feature. Does Microsoft provide a tool that will give me that functionality?

    A. For Microsoft Word versions prior to Word 7.0a, Microsoft provides the ScanProt tool for the following versions of Word:
    • Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0, 6.0a, 6.0c
    • Microsoft Word for Windows 95, version 7.0
    • Microsoft Word for Windows NT, version 6.0
    • Microsoft Word for the Macintosh, versions 6.0, 6.0.1, 6.0.1a
    The Microsoft Virus Protection Tool (ScanProt) scans only for the Concept virus and will remove it from your system. It does not detect nor remove other macro viruses from your system. However, it does install its own macros to warn you when you are opening a file that contains macros.

    For additional information about how to obtain the Word ScanProt tool, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    134728 WD1215: "Macro Virus Protection Tool" (Windows)
    133895 WD6X: Macro Virus Protection Tool for the Macintosh (MW1222)
    Note that Microsoft does not provide a ScanProt tool for Word versions earlier than Word 6.0. For complete macro virus protection for these versions of Word, contact a third-party Virus protection software vendor.
  10. Q. Are there macro viruses that affect other Microsoft Office applications?

    A. Yes. For more information on macro viruses for the other Microsoft Office programs:
    • For additional information about macro viruses in Microsoft Excel, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
      154131 XL: Q&A about Excel Macro/Laroux Macro Virus

Properties

Article ID: 187243 - Last Review: September 1, 2006 - Revision: 3.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 6.0a
  • Microsoft Word 6.0c
  • Microsoft Word 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 95a
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 for Macintosh
  • Microsoft Word 6.01 for Macintosh
  • Microsoft Word 6.01 for Macintosh
Keywords: 
kbinfo kbvirus KB187243
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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