When was the first time you heard that you have to be careful with Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) that you receive by email or download via the Internet? Since Microsoft’s office suite applications have their own language for creating scripts that are integrated into the documents, the exploitation of the same with bad intentions is a problem that brings head to the Redmond.

Over the years, Microsoft has been adding some functions to prevent the abuse of this possibility so that, for example, if you use a recent version of Office, you will know that when you try to open a file that you have downloaded from the Internet, by default it will open in protected view mode and with all the functions that it may have, disabled. At that point it will be up to the user to decide whether to unlock the document or not, with the button enabled for that purpose.

Office mejora la protección frente a archivos dañinos

Now Microsoft goes a step further with a new Office security feature that has already been released in the test version for Office Insiders, and that I personally find most interesting, as long as its implementation is as safe as it should be. And is that now Office applications will allow you to open potentially suspicious files, that is, all those whose origin is not verified, safely.

And how will it do that? By creating an isolated execution environment, unable to interact with the host system, in the same way that when we use a virtual machine, unless we specify so it will not have access to the file system or other resources of the computer on which it is running. This way, even if the Office file is malicious, it can be opened without putting the system at risk.

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Once the file is opened, Office will also allow the user to use the “Save as” function with which, for example, we can modify its format when storing it. So, if we are suspicious about the reliability of a document but we are interested in its content, it will be possible to export it to a format in which the potentially harmful scripts of the document are lost, and keep only its content.

Office mejora la protección frente a archivos dañinos

The key, of course, will depend on how secure the document is.This environment, and in this case security is based on isolation between guest and host. Fortunately, we live in times where virtualization and secure, isolated execution environments are a clear trend, so there have been a lot of advances in this direction. So Office could choose to deploy a full virtual machine, a container or a custom solution. Either way, being able to open Office documents with that extra peace of mind is definitely great news.