What is a 'Macro Virus'

A macro virus infects a software program and causes a series of actions to begin automatically when the program is opened. It operates like a normal macro and often installs itself in the place of an existing macro.

BREAKING DOWN 'Macro Virus'

Macro viruses originate on the internet and infiltrate programs already stalled on a person's computer. To fully understand what a macro virus is, however, it is important to first understand what a macro is.

What Is a Macro?

A macro is a series of commands that automatically triggers a specific function within a software program. Macros can be installed in programs such as Microsoft Word in order to perform complex tasks that the program would otherwise be unable to do automatically. For example, a company can use a macro to automatically insert designed letterhead or pre-designed tables into Microsoft Word page templates, or use custom page formats that aren't available with the program by itself.

How Does a Macro Virus Infect a Program?

Macro viruses originate on the Internet, often in spam email, and infiltrate programs installed on a person's computer, such as Microsoft Office, by imitating a benign macro. They often take the place of pre-installed macros and are activated when the regular macro is executed, but they can operate even when the program is not in use without the user's knowledge. The automatic actions they trigger can range from adding text uncontrollably to a document to sending spam messages to people in the user's address books.

Macro viruses are often harmless to the computer or the program itself, but they cause confusion and frustration for the user. Once installed on a computer, they can spread across multiple programs if they're not contained.

How Does a Macro Virus Spread?

Macro viruses are encoded with the ability to spread - much like the way a virus infects a person, replicates itself, and spread to other people. A macro virus can replicate and install material on a computer without the user's knowledge or consent. If sent through email spam, it often automatically sends itself to everyone in that user's address book.

How Can You Prevent a Macro Virus?

Antivirus software is designed to find and destroy any existing macro viruses on a computer, and prevent new ones from taking root. However, not all macro viruses are detected by antivirus software, and not all antivirus software are alike. It's important to maintain up-to-date antivirus software, but it's equally important to be conscious of what you download or open from the Internet. For example, you should not open an attachment in an email sent from an address you don't know. Email spam can be easily identifiable, but it can also use tricks to make a person think the content is legitimate.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Macro Risk

    Macro risk is a type of political risk in which political actions ...
  2. Global Macro Strategy

    A global macro strategy is a hedge fund strategy that primarily ...
  3. Global Macro Hedge Fund

    A global macro hedge fund is an actively managed fund that attempts ...
  4. Macro Environment

    The macro environment refers to the overall condition of the ...
  5. Macro Accounting

    Macro accounting is the compilation of national accounts, or ...
  6. Top-Down Analysis

    Top-down analysis is an investment strategy that looks at the ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Macro Funds Struggle, Even With Trump Rally

    Despite expectations of success in the new year, macro funds have struggled to deliver.
  2. Insights

    Zika Virus Vaccine Overturns Pharma Industry Playbook (GSK, SNY, ION)

    Big pharma has the funds and expertise necessary to develop a vaccine, but seems reluctant to.
  3. Insights

    6 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is becoming more and more serious in the U.S. Here are some ways you can protect your finances from cybercriminals.
  4. Tech

    Common Cybersecurity Threats and How to Protect Yourself

    With all of the ways hackers can steal your identity and personal information, it's important to protect yourself.
  5. Investing

    Banks Are Hidden Gems For Investors, Goldman Says

    Bank stocks will be fueled by huge stock buybacks and dividend hikes, Goldman says
  6. Trading

    Forex automation software for hands-free trading

    Automated forex trading software scans the market for favorable trades based on your input. Find out more about this valuable forex tool.
  7. Investing

    Must-Have Software For The Home Office

    If you have a home business, these pieces of software can be extremely helpful to you.
  8. Investing

    Microsoft Turns to AI to Fight Cyberattacks

    Microsoft is turning to artificial intelligence in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attacks.
  9. Small Business

    Top 10 Hidden Factors Affecting Software Stocks

    Want to invest in software? Here are the most important factors affecting profits, revenues, and stock price of software companies
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are some of the better types of financial analysis software?

    Discover what features make for good financial analysis software, some popular options and why analysts need to pick the ... Read Answer >>
  2. How do Internet companies profit if they give away their services for free?

    Learn how companies in the Internet sector make a profit when service, content and user applications are offered at no cost ... Read Answer >>
  3. What to Look for When Choosing a Forex Trading Platform

    A trading platform is a piece of software that acts as a conduit for information between a trader and a broker. A trading ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center