home page
home page
Archived article from the year 2000
"Your data has a social life too"



In email

From Web sites

Protection software

Main virus index

home page

Viruses are very fond of Microsoft Word.

Viruses in Microsoft Word

Back in the early nineties, 85% of virus attacks were aimed at Microsoft Word.

This was all down to what are called macros, which are small computer programs that do snazzy things like changing the way a display looks or performing calculations.

Microsoft Word allows macros within Word documents, which wasn't a terrible idea to begin with but all went wrong when the virus makers discovered how easy it was to make macro viruses. Their macros do snazzy things too, like adding malicious files and editing other files that determine how your computer runs.

The problem has declined now because the latest versions of Word (2000 on) do a decent job of protecting against Word macro viruses. Older versions (Word 6 and earlier) are poor. Word 7 is somewhere in the middle.

If you run an old version of Word, you should certainly run a virus checker too. If you don't want to do this, then you must take a lot of precautions over which Word documents you open.

The safest thing to do is open any strange Word documents that you receive by email or on disk in WordPad first. They won't open properly and the first 30 or more lines will be code garbage, but in the middle you'll find most of the text of the file, enough to check whether it's a genuine file that you need to open the proper way.

Modern versions of Word will inform you that a document contains a macro and offer you the option "Disable Macros" before opening. Always choose this option without fail. You can always open the document a second time, with macros enabled, once you've established that it's a genuine document and you need the macros to run.

An introduction to viruses

Assess your risk

Email and attachments

Displaying file extensions

Web downloads

Anti-virus software


Personal data
Mobile phones


About TinHat
Privacy policy

copyright Foxglove Media Ltd 2002. See disclaimer and republishing guidelines.