I have received a phishing email with the usual bogus bill in the form of a Word document. I am curious about what the probable virus wants to do so I would like to inspect the code.

At the moment Word opens the docx in protected mode, and I am not going to disable that as I assume that the VBA macro would execute immediately.

I know that a VM might be a solution, but excluding that (I don't have one to hand), is there a simple way to see the macro code without executing it? I'm thinking something like open it in Notepad or similar. I know Notepad doesn't read .docx but along those lines.

  • 5
    The steps in this blog post might be of use; I'd still advise using a VM when fiddling around with malware though... kahusecurity.com/2015/…
    – Fluffy
    Apr 21, 2016 at 9:02

3 Answers 3


Microsoft Office fileas are actually nothing but glorified zip files. If you change the extention to .zip you can extract the content. There you should find the file word\vbaProject.bin that contains the VBA macros. However, as the extention suggests, this file is binary and is not much help in letting you read the source code.

Fortunately Microsoft has published the specs for the format, and there are a number of programs that can help you. I have not tried any of them, but there is a nice list on Decalage. Check it out for more details! These are the programs listed there:

A minor detail: A docx file should not contain a macro, as those are not allowed in docx files. According to Microsoft:

Word lets you save macros in two Word file types: a Word Macro-Enabled Document file (.docm) and a Word Macro-Enabled Template file (.dotm).


Upload it to VirusTotal. Not only will you find out how many antivirus programs detect it automatically and what their classification is, but on the "File Details" tab you can see the macro and VBA code embedded in the document.

Example (which I received several months ago in a message nearly identical to the one you describe): https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/099f9605c1960e20572109ec466e0c05cdea7a1c4a82fea4f44c3f6a4a94b2b3/analysis/1473176084/

Ok, this one was an old format Word Document (OLE Compound Document File), not the new ZIP+XML format. I'd be very surprised if the tools can't perform at least the same level of analysis on the DOCX.


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