Malware can hide in just about any file, especially since hackers have been very creative over the last few years. A victim could easily infect their devices with malware through downloadable files, with Office documents being the most common carriers.
Though alarming, there are precautions and actions one can take to prevent and remove malware from infected devices. Read on to learn more.
Are The Microsoft Office Files You Are Downloading Infected by Malware?
According to Hack Read, in the third quarter of 202, around 38 percent of all downloadable malware were found tucked away in Office documents. Even when the rate decreased slightly down to 34 percent in the first quarter of 2021, it shot up to new records of 43 percent in the next quarter.
Because Microsoft Office documents are shared by thousands, even millions, of people daily online from anywhere around the world, cybercriminals see it as a perfect vessel for their lucrative and malicious attacks. Hackers have a penchant for Office files because they can easily evade detection from a majority of antivirus software.
To trick users into downloading the malware, attackers infect office docs by sending files with malicious macros to the unsuspecting users via email. If the intended victim is easily tricked or too busy to notice anything wrong, they will enable the macros, a group of commands for completing certain tasks automatically, like MS Office, and they end up opening the malicious file without thinking twice.
The best line of defense against malware is always avoiding engaging with any spam or suspicious messages, emails, or files. According to Microsoft, it is always best to install the latest updates from Microsoft Update. Not only do updates usually come with security patches that are kept up to date to avoid infection from malware, but it also helps support other safety software run tests on your device and its files properly.
[3/3] While waiting for @Microsoft to release an official patch, avoid opening files from unexpected sources, which could considerably lower the risk of this threat as it requires the user to actually open the malicious file.— Trend Micro Research (@TrendMicroRSRCH) September 9, 2021
Read our report: https://t.co/rnUaJ9Dj1Y
How to Remove Viruses and Other Malware from Your Downloaded Microsoft Office Files
To remove any viruses or malware, it is imperative to have the latest software update from Microsoft. The company noted that a computer virus may prevent access to the Microsoft Update website for the necessary installation of updates, and so it is best to have Automatic Updates service set.
This is Microsoft's free online tool which scans and helps remove any potential threats from your device. Perform the scan to identify any of these viruses.
2. Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool
After the scan, if you find any malware, the Tool will walk you through clean the specific files and complete the removal process.
3. Manual Removal
Some rogue security software cannot be detected or removed by using ths Scanner or the Tool, so entering Safe Mode and manually deleting the software would be necessary. Microsoft runs you through the step=by-step process according to the Windows version you are running.
For future protection, if you have not already, it is best to install Microsoft Defender Offline to your now-uninfected device to avoid any future incidents as best as possible.