Definition of the Day: Macro Virus

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A macro is a set of commands used by a program that perform a set of related actions used commonly. For example, the act of opening a document in most word processors is not a single command but a set of commands in the form of a macro.

What is a Macro-Virus?

A macro virus changes a program’s existing macros to execute different commands whenever that macro is run, thus hiding itself from virus detection and malware scanning programs. For example, a macro virus could attach itself to the aforementioned ‘open document’ command such that each time the user opens a document the now-changed macro also logs, copies and sends keystroke data to a hacker’s server.
Macro viruses are tricky to detect because they usually operate sporadically, in the background and aren’t active for very long.

Macro viruses can self-replicate and spread very quickly. Moreover, they are one of the rare class of viruses that can infect both Windows and Mac computers using the same code.

Famous Macro Virus Cyber Crime Cases

Two of the most infamous macro viruses are Concept and Melissa. Concept was the first macro virus. It was born in July of 1995 and targeted MS Word. Melissa was born in 1999 and is infamous in that it was the first macro virus that could spread itself via email. Born on March 26, 1999 Melissa spread itself to thousands of computers within minutes. She crippled offices and networks all over the globe. It was one of the worst computer viruses up to that point in history.

In 2016, Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest was a victim of a macro virus. Police suspect that over $600,000 was stolen from his family bank account when Mr Forrest opened a macro-enabled Microsoft Excel file which infected his computer with a virus. Once opened, the virus seems to be a form of spyware which spied on Mr Forrest’s activities and when he was about to do a large transfer from his family’s bank account, that’s when the online criminal stole money from him. While this may be a case where Mr Forrest was intentionally targeted due to his high profile, at BankVault we do meet customers who have had their money stolen from their home or business bank accounts. The pain point for anyone losing a large sum of money can be truly excruciating especially when you have bills to pay.

For those who are concerned about becoming a victim or have already been a victim of a macro-virus infection, BankVault easily protects your computer from macro-viruses. If you would like to learn how to avoid money stealing malware, visit our Security Solutions page or contact us today to find out more!