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  1. #1
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    Avoiding MS Word viruses

    OK. For my job, I have to receive Word files, usually docx, read them, and comment on them. In the face of the recent rise in Word viruses I am looking for more protection. I started by making sure Word is running under reduced admin rights. I sometimes save and actively scan. Here are some other ideas. Comments please.

    1. Install Word Viewer, and run it under reduced privileges. But, I notice that it too needs patches, which suggests it is vulnerable.

    2. Open files in OpenOfffice

    3. Open files in WordPerfect.

    I am NOT worried that these steps will change formatting/lose pictures etc. I can easily make comments using a separate memo and screenshots etc. I am following the same logic that led me to remove Adobe products of all kinds off my computers, and use an alternative pdf viewer.

    The question boils down to this. Which alternative reader of Wordfiles is the most resistant to word viruses?

    Thanks

    Ivan

  2. #2
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    Ivan,

    You don't mention what version of word you are using. If you are using 2007+ and download to a non-trusted location (see trust center) macros are blocked and you can read the file w/o worry. If you are only getting .docx files they are also safe as they do not contain macros.

    All that said, what I would recommend is that you download the files then use MalwareBytes Free to scan the document before attempting to open them. BTW: what is your primary anti-virus program? It should be scanning the documents when they get downloaded and again on opening.

    HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  3. #3
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    Using Word 2010. For Antivirus I use Emisoft Antimalware, which may be checking the file when opening. I doubt if it is checking on downloading because when I scan the attachments folder it finds problem files.

    Hence my curiosity about opening the docx in another program. Even if the Antivirus is scanning properly, which alternative program would be the best protection against Word Viruses?

    I do not understand "download to a non trusted location". Files are downloaded by the emailer and stored offline in a folder. I can open them from the emailer, or save to the relevant folder then open from there.

    On the story of Malwarebytes, I used to use Malwarebytes Free, then paid, then had major problems with them when they upgraded to Version2. Until the upgrade it worked well with the firewall once it had been tweaked. Two weeks ago I tried re-installing the standalone Free, did a good scan, and it told me it needed to restart the system to do its work. I forgot to tell Online Armor to go into 'learning mode' and voila, a complete system crash -- could not even get into Safemode. Fortunately I had a generic Windows Rescue Disk, it fixed any boot problems, and was able to use a Restore point. OK. Perhaps I should have set 'exceptions' into Firewall, Antivirus, and Malwarebytes before rebooting. I am not inclined to make another attempt.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Ivan,

    In Word goto
    File -> Options -> Trust Center -> Trust Center Settings... {this one is a button} ->Macro Settings
    Set to Disable all macros except digitally signed macros.
    MacroSettings.JPG
    goto -> Trusted Locations
    Make sure your download location is NOT in the list, e.g. a NON-Trusted Location.
    TrustedLocations.JPG

    With these settings you should have no worries about Word Macro Viruses when downloading to a NON-Trusted Location.

    HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  5. #5
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    OK. I found it under tools/options and have now disactivated most macros as you say. That solves the problem with Macro viruses, but what about Word viruses in general? The standard practice with pdf files is to use a non-Adobe reader. I do not need Word2010 on my system except for the odd bit of work in French or Arabic. Following the same logic, which of the three programs: Word Viewer, Open Office, or Word Perfect, is most likely to protect me?

  6. #6
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Ivan,

    You have to run code to get a virus. Thus, if you have Macros disabled and you download into a non-trusted location, just for extra protection, there is no way you'll get a virus from a Word file. HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  7. #7
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    True, code has to be run. Bear with me, I find this strange. People are surprised when they hear that pdf files can be carriers of viruses, and how much room in a pdf file is there for code? Hence it is hard to believe that merely by disabling macros in Word and saving them to non-trusted locations I am safe. Disabling is a good first step, and thanks for the precise advice. I would still like to know which of the three other options I listed provided the greatest protection.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Ivan,


    Cassius:
    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
    Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
    To paraphrase..."The fault, dear Ivan, is not in our PDF, But in our PDF Reader"

    That is to say the code may be hidden in the PDF file but it is an error in the PDF reader that allows the code to run. Which is of course why I don't use Adobe Reader!

    HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  9. #9
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    why not scan them with a couple of AV programs before opening them ?

    adobe is also bad for sure but less so if you delete flash and dont use it


    Quote Originally Posted by ILowe View Post
    OK. For my job, I have to receive Word files, usually docx, read them, and comment on them. In the face of the recent rise in Word viruses I am looking for more protection. I started by making sure Word is running under reduced admin rights. I sometimes save and actively scan. Here are some other ideas. Comments please.

    1. Install Word Viewer, and run it under reduced privileges. But, I notice that it too needs patches, which suggests it is vulnerable.

    2. Open files in OpenOfffice

    3. Open files in WordPerfect.

    I am NOT worried that these steps will change formatting/lose pictures etc. I can easily make comments using a separate memo and screenshots etc. I am following the same logic that led me to remove Adobe products of all kinds off my computers, and use an alternative pdf viewer.

    The question boils down to this. Which alternative reader of Wordfiles is the most resistant to word viruses?

    Thanks

    Ivan

  10. #10
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    any file sent by email is by definition UNTRUSTWORTHY

    you might trust a file you dl from a company server
    but never trust one sent via email by anyone ever for any reason

    always scan them first before doing anything with them
    mbam is a good choice to use


    Quote Originally Posted by ILowe View Post
    Using Word 2010. For Antivirus I use Emisoft Antimalware, which may be checking the file when opening. I doubt if it is checking on downloading because when I scan the attachments folder it finds problem files.

    Hence my curiosity about opening the docx in another program. Even if the Antivirus is scanning properly, which alternative program would be the best protection against Word Viruses?

    I do not understand "download to a non trusted location". Files are downloaded by the emailer and stored offline in a folder. I can open them from the emailer, or save to the relevant folder then open from there.

    On the story of Malwarebytes, I used to use Malwarebytes Free, then paid, then had major problems with them when they upgraded to Version2. Until the upgrade it worked well with the firewall once it had been tweaked. Two weeks ago I tried re-installing the standalone Free, did a good scan, and it told me it needed to restart the system to do its work. I forgot to tell Online Armor to go into 'learning mode' and voila, a complete system crash -- could not even get into Safemode. Fortunately I had a generic Windows Rescue Disk, it fixed any boot problems, and was able to use a Restore point. OK. Perhaps I should have set 'exceptions' into Firewall, Antivirus, and Malwarebytes before rebooting. I am not inclined to make another attempt.

  11. #11
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    Yes, scan each one before opening. What a pain! I would still like to see if there is an answer to my original question, could I open them in another program, safely?

    Mbam, see the first post. Locked me out of my computer twice.

    Ivan

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ILowe View Post
    The question boils down to this. Which alternative reader of Wordfiles is the most resistant to word viruses?
    Office Online opening files from OneDrive (not on your PC).

    Bruce

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