A macro is a series of automated inputs that mimic keystrokes or mouse motions. Typically, a macro is intended to replace a sequence of repetitive keyboard and mouse activities, and it is utilized often in spreadsheet and data processing such as MS Excel and MS Word. This helps to automate repetitive tasks, and in turn, save time.

No, the macro is not necessarily or fundamentally a virus. However, a macro can be infected by a virus and turn into something which is known as a “Macro Virus”. This macro virus may prove fatal for the computer system infected.

This article will attempt to explain the difference between a macro and a macro virus. Furthermore, the basic concepts regarding macro will be discussed, and later on, the macro virus will be discussed. 

What Does The Term Macro Mean?

In the programming world, macros are scripts that allow developers to reuse code. The meaning of the term macro is “macro-instruction” (long instruction). By using a macro, users may reduce the amount of time generally spent on repeated operations. 

Some macros, such as those in Microsoft Excel, may contain functions. Typically, an Excel macro is constructed by recording a series of keystrokes and mouse clicks that use the Macro Recorder. It is also attainable with Visual Basic.

A saved macro may then be retrieved from a menu or toolbar and executed with a single click. Additionally, you may set a shortcut key to a macro for even quicker access. 

Since macros may be called immediately as quickly as a digital document gets downloaded, nefarious persons have used them to create macro viruses.

What Is The Use Of Macros In Video Games?

Since the release of Ultima Online in 1997, massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have popularized macros in video games. 

Originally, they were employed to allow the character to repeat repetitive acts while the user was away from the computer in order to learn particular in-game skills.

However, macros have been utilized as keyboard and mouse shortcuts in various games in recent years. Rather than pressing many keys in a certain sequence to activate a skill, a macro might be used to do the same operation with a button press. 

In games where speed is of the essence, including such as Fortnite or some other first-person shooter (FPS) games, macros are sometimes viewed as cheating, especially in multiplayer games. 

In reality, they may be utilized to do infallible tasks that would be impossible for a person to accomplish in a fraction of a second.

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What Is The Use Of Macros In SEO?

Many SEO professionals also employ macros to do manual tasks automatically. For instance, they are used to structure material that is routinely supplied to a website, including activity dates and weekly reminders. 

In addition, they are used to regularly update Excel spreadsheets and send frequent emails to partnership websites for the purpose of link insertion and exchange.

What Is The Use Of Macros In Computer Programming?

Named sections of code are macros in computer programming. Each time this identifier is used, the macro’s content is performed. They can either resemble objects or function calls.

What Are Macro Viruses?

A macro virus is indeed a computer virus built using the exact macro language as that of the software that it infects; Microsoft Excel or Word are frequent targets. 

Because macro viruses target software and not systems, they can attack any operating system. Thus, a PC or Mac can be infected by a macro virus.

It is referred to as a macro virus due to its usage of a macro language. Without becoming too scientific, a macro language seems to be a specialized command language that allows you to automate particular application processes with relative ease. 

Typically, this facilitates the use of applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel, as a few keystrokes will initiate a sequence of activities. This macro language is especially targeted by macro viruses, which implant themselves into automated operations. 

Software infected with such a macro virus may be coerced to create new files, alter data, transfer text, send files, reformat hard drives, insert images, and transport further, potentially more harmful viruses or malware.

Be cautious if you get an unexpected document or spreadsheet, as it may contain a macro infection. Many consumers are duped by seemingly harmless documents because they are unaware that malicious content can be concealed within a simple file. 

Additionally, malicious macros may be used to install malware onto a computer.

What Is The Mode Of Executing A Macro Virus?

Macro viruses infect data files, including such spreadsheets and documents with harmful code. When these files are accessed or even when macros have been enabled, this code is triggered and infects additional files on the device. 

Word documents are a typical vector for macro infections. Because of macro infections, Microsoft Word or Excel no longer enable macros by default. 

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Downloading a malicious attachment prompts the user to activate macros. This action activates the payloads of the virus. Typically, after one macro virus has attacked one document, it infects all comparable documents on your machine. 

Therefore, it is possible that you will need to remove all other documents of the same kind, as they are likely already contaminated with a macro virus. This can result in, at best, inconvenience, and, at worst, lost time or income.

In addition, if you exchange a document containing a macro-virus with another person, it will contaminate their documents as well. Macro viruses might not be as deadly as ransomware assaults, which hold data as ransom, but they are capable of causing harm. 

A macro virus may be configured to operate automatically and invisibly, so victims could be ignorant that their equipment is infected. Due to the fact that they are frequently tied to automated sequencing, macro viruses prefer to propagate quickly and invisibly. 

Emails with virus-infected attachments are among the most popular vectors for macro virus transmission. Frequently, phishing emails are sent routinely by accessing a recipient’s contact list, increasing the likelihood that recipients would open and receive the attachment.

Macro viruses are also transmitted via shared networks or CDs, as well as when they are downloaded or opened via modems or internet/intranet connections.

Which Applications Are Most Susceptible To Macro Viruses?

Because macro infections target specific software, commonly used applications such as Microsoft Office are frequently attacked. In fact, the issue is so prevalent that Microsoft has taken many protections against macro infections. 

In their applications, macros remain disabled by default, and warnings should appear before you activate macros. Thus, hackers utilize social engineering techniques to promote their illicit activities. 

They will send you an infected attachment via a trusted contact, as you are more inclined to open a document from your “mother” or “best friend” than from a stranger.  After obtaining the file, one may not hesitate to execute macros to determine what they intended to send you. 

In other terms, hackers utilize our confidence in friends and natural curiosity to propagate macro infections, rather than genuine program weaknesses. In addition, once you are infected, this macro virus might spread to your contact list, completing the cycle. 

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Many macro infections specifically target Microsoft Word. Macs may also be infected with macro viruses, as they can execute Word, Excel, as well as other Office applications.

Although Microsoft programs are the most common target, Macs can also be infected with macro viruses.

What Is The Way To Protect Against A Macro Virus?

Since Microsoft Word or Excel now automatically deactivates macros, you must often reactivate macros to activate the infection. Therefore, macro infections may be readily avoided by disabling macros. 

If you get a document as well as a spreadsheet that invites you to execute macros, you should not do so immediately. Inquire with the sender of the file if macros were genuinely required before implementing them.

If you accidently download an attachemnt from an email that is suspicious, and you open it, DO NOT select the “Enable Content” option when the file is open (second screenshot below). If the file is malicious, malware will execute on your system if anti-virus doesn’t block it.

Instead, use anti-virus to remove that file from your device, run a deep file scan, restart the computer, and report the email to your security team or email provider.

Always be aware of unexpected email attachments. They might be contaminated with various viruses and other malicious software.

Other than that, ensure that each of your accounts has a strong, unique password. If your credentials are compromised in a security breach and they are the same at all, hackers might simply access your accounts and spread macro viruses and other malware to your contacts.

For comprehensive protection against all types of cybercrime, employ a strong antivirus application and utilize cyber security best practice.

Conclusion

The 2017 discovery by security specialists of the initial MacOS macro malware prevented it from causing serious damage. However, this demonstrates that Macs are also susceptible to viruses, even macro viruses. 

After victims viewed the file on the Macs, a macro initiated the installation and download of a malicious file by contacting a remote server.  However, since the macro’s code was obtained from a malware exploit kit, data theft may have been the objective of the attack.

It can be conclusively said that macro infections are less prevalent than they formerly were, in part because programs like Microsoft Word now disable macros.