Getting rid of Word macro viruses


From today’s mail bag:

My kids picked up a “Virus” (as best as I can see it) from the school’s computer lab which has now corrupted my iMac and Powerbook. The virus only affects Microsoft Word documents. I am currently running the 2004 version of Microsoft Office on my Macs. I get the following warning message when opening up a Word file that is corrupted with this virus.

If you “Enable Macros” it opens up the document and you can work as usual, it’s just that you will forever be asked to “Enable Macros” going forward. The strange part is, that I can’t find/see a macro anywhere in the contents of the Word document. If you “Disable Macros”, then you can open the document in a read-only mode which means as soon as you change the name to save any edits it will then become corrupted because the Microsoft Word System templates are corrupted.

This warning message doesn’t refer to this as a virus, but I think it is one. If I attach an infected Word file as an e-mail using the Comcast server it leaves the Sent Box, but never gets delivered to the intended recipient (it stays in hyperspace). If I try and attach an infected Word file using the Yahoo server it doesn’t allow it saying that the file is infected. It’s because of these 2 strange yet related incidents that leads me to believe a virus does exist.

The only way I was able to rid myself of this message was to completely uninstall Microsoft Word, and then reinstall it which requires 10 different patch updates along the way. Very cumbersome and timely (well over 2 hours worth of time). By doing that I was able to have a clean template for new documents. The second step involved opening up each document that was infected and copying and pasting its contents into a Text Editor and then recopying the contents from the Text Editor version and pasting it into a new template from Word. This would be fine if I had 5 files to clean, but unfortunately I have hundreds.

I took an infected Word file and placed it on a thumb drive and scanned it on my PC using Norton AntiVirus. It did find the virus and cleansed the file.

I am trying to download the latest version of ClamXav (version 1.1.1), but it is doing so at a snails pace (so far I have 5.0 MB downloaded from a 22.2 MB file downloading at 2.2 kb/second). I have a feeling it’s not going to mount to my drive, but we’ll see what happens.

All this leads to 2 questions: 1) Have you seen this problem before and if so how did you resolve it, and 2) Also, am I correct in assuming that ClamXav only identifies infected files yet doesn’t clean them? If that is the case, then do I still need to buy anti-virus software for my Mac?

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2 Comments

Filed under Mail Bag, Third Party Software, Troubleshooting

2 responses to “Getting rid of Word macro viruses

  1. Diana

    I experienced the exact same problem… never thought of it as a virus until i googled the issue… Never thought mac got any viruses at all, but now I see I haven’t been careful because I thought my mac was like Superman…. I’m all around the web to find out how to solve this. If you find out something, let mi know, if I find out something I’ll let you know 🙂

  2. amylsonnie

    I am also having this issue. I am about to download antivirus software, but before I pay for one, I’d like to know which one will actually ID the virus AND clean the files. Anyone know?

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