Macro Security

Now more than ever, we have to concern ourselves with the security of our computer systems. One form of security addresses securing the information contained in our databases as well as the intellectual property built into our databases. This form of security was discussed in Chapter 16, "Database Security."

Another form of security has to do with preventing malicious attacks on our computers—attacks that can delete files, spread viruses, or otherwise disrupt our work. This chapter discusses the security enhancements built into Access 2003, which help us protect our computer systems and our users' computer systems.

In Microsoft's efforts to make sure everything is secure, they had to deal with the fact that an Access database has a lot of power (something Access developers have known all along). And because of this power, someone who chooses to use Access maliciously can make an Access database perform destructive operations.

Unfortunately, curbing this power led Microsoft to make changes to Access 2003 that will cause us to do a little more work to make databases as easy to use as they have been with prior versions of Access. But let's face it, if our users used Access to open a database from someone else and that database then attacked their computer, they could easily blame Access, rather than the database they opened, for the attack. Their confidence level for using Access in the way we would like them to use it would be right out the window. So, really, these security changes aren't all bad. We just have to learn a few new techniques to keep our databases as easy to use as they were prior to Access 2003.

This chapter explains more about why Access 2003 has the new security features and what they are. (Some might not consider these as features since they just create more work.) But more important than why the features are there, we'll cover the things you can do to make and keep it easy for your users to use your databases in Access 2003. Some of the ways you can get around the macro security feature include: adjusting the Macro Security settings, using Visual Basic scripts, and creating a digital signature to sign your database. These are not difficult solutions. And once you learn them, they will become second nature.

Of course the macro security enhancements aren't the only security enhancements for Access 2003. You'll find it difficult to use the wizards in Access to create forms, reports, and the like, until you update your Jet Engine to Service Pack 8. We'll also explain why this is and talk about the new Jet Expression Services' "Sandbox mode" and its implications for using certain built-in functions in Access.

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