How to detect and remove the macro virus from your Mac?
Macro viruses are one of the oldest types of viruses to hit personal computers. They are designed to look like or take the place of automated scripts known as macros that run in some of the most widely-used software. Because they are written in the same language as macros, they can replace regular commands and run in any program when the command is selected. That’s how they may infect your Mac. Here, we’ll tell you how to deal with a macro virus.
What is a macro?
Macros are mini-programs within other programs that are designed to automate tasks. The most common macros are used in Microsoft Office applications like Word and Excel, and they can be written by the application developer, third parties, or the user. Macros can be embedded in documents so that when a document is opened on any machine, the macro can be run, or they can be stored on the computer on which they were created and available to any document opened on that computer.
What is a macro virus?
The fact that macros can be embedded in say a Word or Excel document, means that they are an easy way to spread malware. The malicious actor writes a macro that can be made to look like it performs a harmless function, but when the document is opened it runs and causes harm to the host computer.
Before the web was popular, macro viruses were often spread by email or on removable media. That’s one reason why you should be cautious about email attachments and open it only if you are absolutely sure where it came from.
One of the most infamous macro virus examples arrived in 1999. Known as Melissa, it grabbed the details of the first 50 contacts in a users’ address book and sent itself to them. When one of those users opened the attachment, Melissa copied itself to the first 50 people that user’s contacts and so on.
How do I know if my Mac has a macro virus?
There are several possible symptoms:
- Unexplained behavior, such as a document asking for a password when it wouldn’t normally do so.
- Unusual dialog box messages.
- Changes to documents that don’t make sense.
- Menu items missing from the host program.
How to avoid getting a macro virus
- Don’t open email attachments
If you see Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents attached to an email you received, don’t open them unless you are certain about what they are and where they came from.
- Avoid downloading suspicious files
Don’t download files from the internet unless you are certain they are safe. Also, make sure you download certified software for your Mac.
- Make a habit of scanning your Mac regularly
There are many anti-malware tools that can help you check your Mac for macro viruses and remove them. The app we mentioned before, CleanMyMac X, does a great job scanning macOS and revealing malware and viruses that may have infected your machine.
- Treat files that are given to you on removable media with care
If possible, scan them for malware before you open them and, especially, copy them to your Mac.
- Pay attention to warnings
Word and Excel will warn you if a document you open contains a macro. Don’t ignore the warning. If you weren’t expecting the document to have a macro, or you don’t need to use it, choose the option to disable macros.
How can I get rid of a macro virus?
Macro viruses can be difficult to detect, so prevention is much better than cure. That’s why it’s important to follow the steps above to avoid getting one in the first place.
If you do find that you have a macro virus. It’s important that you deal with it straight away. Don’t send any files to anyone if the app they run in supports macros. And don’t copy them to external media or upload them to the internet, otherwise, you risk spreading the virus.
The only effective method to remove the macro virus from your Mac is to use anti-malware tools that work for you. But, be cautious here: don’t download the software unless you’re sure it’s safe. For example, CleanMyMac X is notarized by Apple, which proves it is an app you can trust.
Here’s how to use it:
- Download, launch, and install CleanMyMac X.
- Select Malware Removal and hit the Scan button.
- CleanMyMac X will start checking your Mac for malware. If anything is found, click Remove to get rid of it.
- Now, you can turn on real-time protection. Click on the CleanMyMac X menu and choose Preferences.
- Select the Protection tab and check the box to turn on real-time protection.
What else should I do?
This type of virus is distributed commonly through email attachments, so you should certainly clean those up. Get rid of any you don’t need. You can use CleanMyMac X for that too!
- Launch CleanMyMac X and choose Mail Attachments in the sidebar.
- Select your email application in the window.
- To remove all attachments, press Clean. Otherwise, review the list of attachments, check the box next to those you want to get rid of, then press Clean.
Macro viruses are spread in documents that run in applications that support macros, like Microsoft Word and Excel. The virus is embedded in the document itself and usually spread via email attachment or over a network. When the document is opened, the macro runs automatically, infecting the host computer. So it’s important you only open attachments from trusted sources and only enable macros on documents you’re sure are safe. Don’t forget to run regular malware scans to remove malware if you think you’ve been infected.