.DOCM File Extension – Risks and Tips

What is the .DOCM file extensions and how do you open it? Why can .DOCM files be dangerous? Learn the answers to these questions and more in our article!

What are .DOCM Files?

A once well-known and widely spread cyber phenomenon has made a comeback to the virtual scene of malicious activity. The star we have in mind and to which today’s article is solely dedicated to is the .DOCM virus. Now, just so to be clear, we’ll first explain what .DOCM is. It’s an extension for Microsoft Word files, which contain embedded macros. The idea is for those macros to be able to be executed within the document and the purpose of the file is to automate Word Open XML document tasks.

So, having covered that, it should be easier now to understand how the virus works. As pointed out, this type of malware has already been popular once – back in the 2000’s, but disappeared since then, either due to Microsoft developing more sophisticated means of recognizing infected files, or just because hackers found more effective ways to ruin people’s day. Over a decade later, we see it resurfacing and bringing with it all sorts of nasty things you wouldn’t ever want on your computer. These shady companions could be, for example, Trojan Horse viruses, which are among the most common viruses circulating the web. They are notorious for their stealth and multifunctionality, as well as the immense damage they can cause. Would you want something like that hanging around your system? Didn’t think so.

How exactly are .DOCM files a threat then?

As mentioned, these files can be infected with literally any virus thinkable. The malware is embedded within the Word file, which will in most cases appear blank to you, except for maybe a short message asking you to enable Macros in order to view this sample. The trick here is that the virus is actually written in white font, hence your inability to see it. Once you enable Macros, as politely asked for by the nice cyber criminals, the system will run the script and drop the malware. From then on, it will do whatever it is programmed to do, and typically it won’t be pleasant. Malware is by definition malicious software, so it can commit to any tasks from stealing your data, to spying on you, to wrecking your computer.

How to tell if a file with a .DOCM file extension is infected?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way for an user to manually tell if a .DOCM file is infected or perfectly fine, short of opening it. This is precisely where anti-malware and anti-virus programs step up. Nearly all such programs are capable of scanning the code and picking up any malicious intent.

Methods used by hackers to spread .DOCM infected files

Infected .DOCM files are in most cases distributed via email. At first you would think, but who’d fall for some spam email, right? Unless you have already had the bad luck of running into one of these bad boys, you will be surprised to learn just how persuasive and sophisticated they can be. There have been instances of cyber criminals pretending to be some well-known brand or company, whose services you might very well be using. Perhaps the email can be regarding a bill and you would be prompted to open the attachment, because you would certainly like to make sure just how much and what you’ve paid for. That being said, you can now probably get a better picture of the type of sneaky techniques hackers use just to fool you into downloading their virus.

Safety tips

Well, hopefully now that you’ve been introduced to the concept of .DOCM files, you’ll be on the lookout for them and will think twice before downloading and opening one, when it comes your way. Nonetheless, we urge users to be critical when receiving any sort of email and analyze its details before even opening it. Many web-based email hosting services offer you the possibility of previewing the first line of a received email prior to opening it. That way you can at least get some sort of idea what this would be about. Also, pay attention to the subject and especially to the sender email. Again, these are all things you can do before opening the email, along with the existence of an attached file, so if any of those arouse suspicion – it’s best to avoid opening the message. If you have opened it, however, be very cautious in following any hyperlink and downloading whatever attachment there might be.

It should also go without saying that you need to have a reliable security system installed on your computer. A well-established and proven antivirus will go a long way and doesn’t require much effort to set up, preferably along with a browser extension in order to maximize your safety, while browsing.

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