Imagine starting up your computer only to see the image on the screen melt while eerie music plays. The hard drive crunches away. What is it doing in there? Before you turn off the machine, most of your files have been deleted. Your computer is the victim of a computer virus. But where did the virus come from? It may have been that game you borrowed or, more likely, it came from an electronic document.
Most viruses infect programs, but newer viruses can infect documents as well. This is the case with macro viruses that infect Microsoft Word files. In fact, the number of these viruses has increased from 40 in 1996 to over 1,300 in 1998. Anyone who reads Word files created by others can be at risk. Infected documents spread easily and quickly, especially in environments where documents are shared.
What is a macro virus?
A macro virus is a program that infects documents and spreads by copying itself. When a document containing a macro virus is opened on your computer, the virus copies itself into something called the global template, which is used to save Word settings. Once this template is infected, all documents you save will contain the virus. If you distribute an infected document, the virus will spread even further.
Besides making copies of themselves, viruses can have other harmful effects. They can delete or change document contents, change Word settings, set passwords on your documents so that you can’t read them, or delete all of your files the next time you start your computer.
How can I tell if my computer has a macro virus?
Many viruses are so good at covering their tracks that you may not even realize they are t...
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...e all macros found in a document. Unless you need to use the macros in a document, you should disable them.
• Make the normal.dot file read-only. This file is where viruses reside in an infected system. A virus can’t copy itself into this file if it is read-only. Here is how to do this in Windows 98:
- First click the Start button, then click Find, and then click Files or Folders.
- Type “normal.dot” into the Named box and then click Find Now.
- At the bottom of the window should be the normal.dot file with an icon next to it. Click on this file with the right mouse button and then click Properties.
- Check the Read-only box and click OK.
Preventing macro viruses is easy compared to the amount of time and frustration involved in removing them. For more information on macro virus prevention, read the Macro Virus FAQ at http://www.look.com/mfaq.html.
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