Office 2016 has been given a feature upgrade by its creators, Microsoft, but the chances are that very few people, if any, will even notice, even on a macro level.

 Office 2016

But that doesn’t make it any less important for all that. The new feature has been implemented to prevent macro based malware from infecting users PCs such as the surge in recent crypto based ransomware.

“Macro-based malware is on the rise and we understand it is a frustrating experience for everyone. To help counter this threat, we are releasing a new feature in Office 2016 that blocks macros from loading in certain high-risk scenarios.”

The move comes after Microsoft found not only are macro based attacks on the rise, but that a massive 98% of all malware attacks against Office, were macro based. Microsoft are quite keen to point out that that 98% figure applies to malware attempts as opposed to actual infections, but well, you get the picture.

“The enduring appeal for macro-based malware appears to rely on a victim’s likelihood to enable macros.”

The new feature allows IT administrators to easily block and prevent networked users from enabling macros in what they might consider to be ‘high risk’ scenarios. The result now, is that even when an employee attempts to leave Office protected view, they will be prevented from doing so, and then informed about the risks they potentially face.

Of course, the term ‘high risk’ is subjective, and can often depend on the personal zeal level of the admin in question, but generally it could include docs downloaded directly from the internet or communal cloud storage lockers, or even documents attached to emails originating from outside a secure network.

Microsoft’s parting advice on this topic is simply this:

“For end-users, we always recommend that you don’t enable macros on documents you receive from a source you do not trust or know, and be careful even with macros in attachments from people you do trust – in case they’ve been hacked.”

This was good advice before Office received its new macro protection, and its good advice now, as well.