Microsoft rolls back decision to block Office macros by default

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline is a common task to start my day. This morning, a tweet from @BleepinComputer has caught my attention.

My first reaction: WHAT. THE. FUCK?! Microsoft added this as feature 88883 in februrary 2022 to the Microsoft 365 roadmap, and I was pretty happy about this feature. Let’s take a look at this change.

The intention for this change was to add an extra layer of security in case that a user tried to open a downloaded file or an email attachment. The primary reason for this was, that Office documents with VBA were the main entry point for malware deployments. A highly customized email is sent to an employee with the goal, that the user opens the document. The embedded VBA code then is used to download and execute the malware.

Now, this highly wanted change is rolled back. IMHO there is only one reason for this: Customer complains about broken business processes. It’s that simple..

I’m not an InfoSec guy, but I know how to keep Ransomware gangs out of my network. There are three very efficient ways to do this:

  • Implement admin tiering, and avoid giving users admin permissions
  • Quarantine emails with attachments, and last, but not least
  • avoid to run unsighed office macros

Sure, you can allow users the use of Office documents with macros, but please make sure that these macros are signed with a proper code singing certicate, and stop allowing users to open documents with unsigned macros.

I really don’t get it why Microsoft is unable to push such an important change to the public. Of course, Microsoft isn’t responsible if Conti tears your store apart, but at least they could make it a little harder for you to let that happen…

No responsible person can tell me today “Sorry, we couldn’t do anything about this cyber attack”. But I also think that vendors should continue to turn off unsafe features. And if it breaks your business processes… yes, then you don’t deserve it any other way.

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Patrick Terlisten
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