Now’s the time to prep for Microsoft’s Excel macro crackdown

On July 8, Microsoft pulled back from its decision in February to block macros in Excel documents by default. Microsoft had said it would block Excel files that contained macros if they were downloaded from the internet. (Malicious actors use these lures as a way to launch attacks on networks; specifically, ransomware and other types of malicious activity can launched from a plain, old malicious spreadsheet.)

Microsoft still plans to put this blocking in place, but only after “a better experience.” In the meantime, there are actions you can take now so you won’t need to worry about the change in the future.

If you work for a firm that’s developed spreadsheets for your own internal office use, chances are the spreadsheet does not have a digital signature. Signing machos is similar to how websites use SSL certificates to validate the site is legit. The hardest part of the self-signing process is deciding whether you want to purchase a code-signing certificate or use the self-signed certificate process. (I can tell you from personal experience that trying to purchase a code-signing certificate is an expensive and cumbersome process. I don’t recommend that option, except for large enterprises where the code-signing process is routine.)

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