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Best Practice #6: Disable unsigned macros

Checklist: Top 10 best practices for securing e-mail clients, best practice #6.

Macros are automation tools that can perform repetitive tasks easily. All the buttons on the toolbar of a Microsoft application are essentially icons that kick off a macro when pressed. The term macro takes on a bad connotation when a malicious person writes a macro to automate (loop) a malicious task. Certain Microsoft Office applications facilitate the use of macros.

So that we can tell the good guys from the bad guys, Microsoft allows macros to be digitally signed. The digital signature is either trusted or un-trusted by your clients. It is a good idea to disable unsigned macros from running in Word and Excel, for example.

For the last few releases of Microsoft Office, this has been done by default. However, if you want to confirm that is has not been modified, open Excel, Word, etc., go to Tools -> Options -> Security and verify the radio button High is selected.

Top 10 best practices for securing e-mail clients

 Home: Introduction
 #1: Patch your clients
 #2: Configure antivirus software to scan your e-mail clients
 #3: Use anti-malware software
 #4: Quarantine attachments
 #5: Don't be a sucker
 #6: Disable unsigned macros
 #7: Use Outlook's Junk E-mail filter or install spam-filtering software
 #8: Just be plain
 #9: Learn to read (e-mail headers, that is)
 #10: Digitally sign and encrypt e-mails

Richard Luckett, Vice President and Senior Consultant, Ajettix Security
Richard Luckett is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer on the Windows NT 4.0, 2000 and 2003 platforms and has been certified on Exchange since version 4.0. He is the co-author of Administering Exchange 2000 Server, published by McGraw Hill, and has written four Exchange courses, Introduction to Exchange 2000, and Hands-on Exchange 2003, Ultimate Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 Administrator Boot Camp for Global Knowledge Inc. Richard is currently Vice President and Senior Consultant for Ajettix Security, where he is the head of the Microsoft security practice.

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