Understanding VBA Coding in the Realm of Cybersecurity

Understanding Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and its applications in cybersecurity is essential for anyone involved in the field of Information Technology (IT). In this blog post, we will delve into details and answer the question: 'What is VBA coding?' and how it is relevant to cybersecurity.

VBA, an acronym for Visual Basic for Applications, is a programming language developed by Microsoft. It is a tool that was created to enhance the capabilities of other Microsoft applications, such as Excel, Access, and Word.

The reason behind the popularity of VBA is its user-friendliness. Even those with little or no coding experience can learn to navigate their way around the VBA environment by recording macros or following step-by-step tools available in the software. From custom functions to automating workflow, VBA serves numerous purposes, making it an indispensable tool.

Many might wonder, how does VBA relate to cybersecurity? It's simple - any code, if used improperly or maliciously, can present cybersecurity concerns. In terms of VBA, the language can be used to automate actions and procedures, which, if in malevolent hands, could lead to the exploitation of system vulnerabilities.

Understanding VBA Coding

As we respond to 'What is VBA Coding?', we must understand that VBA is an event-driven programming language. This means it can be triggered by user actions such as mouse clicks or key presses, or by system occurrences like changes in data.

VBA is object-oriented, meaning it uses, manipulates, and responds to objects, attributes, and methods. An object can be a cell in Excel, a form in Access, or a word in Word, attributes include properties such as colour and font, and methods could be actions like copy, paste or select.

Learning VBA coding requires understanding the concepts of loops, conditionals, variables, and arrays, and the language model that includes objects, properties, and methods.

VBA and Cybersecurity

VBA's relevance in cybersecurity arises from the potential misuse of its features. Due to its inherent functionalities, VBA can be used to automate the execution of malicious codes or even bypass security controls.

Malicious macros are a common form of VBA-based cybersecurity threats. They execute when a user opens a document and can perform tasks like installing viruses, trojans, or ransomware on a computer. Users are often tricked into enabling macros through convincing, but deceptive instructions in the documents.

An additional concern is that VBA can be easily obfuscated or manipulated to mask the true purpose. This makes identifying and blocking malicious VBA content more difficult for basic security programs.

Protection Against VBA Based Threats

Understanding 'what is VBA coding' also involves understanding how to protect against malicious VBA-based threats.

The first level of protection is awareness. Users should be trained not to enable macros or scripts from untrusted or unknown sources and advised to be wary of suspicious emails or messages.

The second line of defence involves using advanced security software capable of detecting and blocking malicious VBA content. These programs should include heuristic scanning technologies that can identify obfuscated or disguised codes.

Furthermore, Administrator settings can be used to disable macros by default and only allow permission on an as-needed basis. Similarly, VBA code can be digitally signed, indicating a trustworthy source.

Finally, regularly updating software can prevent exploit of known vulnerabilities in outdated versions. For example, newer versions of Office come with enhanced macro security features.


In conclusion, the answer to 'What is VBA coding?' is not just understanding the coding language but also appreciating its capabilities and role in the broader context of cybersecurity. While VBA is a powerful tool designed to ease tasks and increase productivity, it can also be exploited for malicious purposes. By adopting safe practices, using advanced security software, and staying updated with software versions, we can mitigate potential threats. This way, we safely use VBA coding while also maintaining a secure cyber environment.

John Price
Chief Executive Officer
September 28, 2023
4 minutes

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