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Why we believe our way of adding files to an encrypted ZIP archive is genial

December 13, 2013

Imagine something horrible has happened to this planet and neither you, nor your friends have ever heard or used B1 Free Archiver. Let it be a horrible alternative reality, a parallel universe, a Mordor – a place, where everyone uses other archivers than B1 Free Archiver. You and your friend had a trash party last night. It was so awesome you still can’t remember how you got home. However you are kind of curious whether it was you on your shaky feet or a magical pegasus appeared out of nowhere and brought you home on his back. You feel like you’ve lived through the pegasus version, though your tired brain says there must be some trivial explanation… Wait! You remember your friend took photos last night!
 
You call your friend and – yes! – he does have some photos from the party – the type of photos you wouldn’t like your Mom to look at. He agrees to send them to you. He adds the folder with the photos to a ZIP archive using WinRAR or WinZIP or any archiver your poor friend has on his PC. And of course, as a smart and reasonable person, he encrypts it with password. Than he uploads it to any file sharing service or simply emails it. As your true friend he calls you and tells you the password.
 

 
You happily receive the photos, look them through, definitely cast the pegasus version away and laugh through tears. You take your phone to call back your friend and thank him but suddenly you notice you’ve also taken some pics – some drearily compromising visual stuff depicting your friend. And, oh God, you are also present there! You believe your friend deserves to see your common shame too and you decide to add them to the same ZIP archive and send it back to him. As you know that the archive is password-protected, you simply add those few photos to the archive, still believing that no one but you both (as only 2 of you know the password) will be able to see the contents of the archive.
 
You open your email, attach the archive and send it to…oops! Because of the hangover your fingers are still trembling and you accidentally chose the wrong addressee – let it be the worst – corporate collective email. “Whatever” – your think, – “I will apologize, but the people won’t see the photos anyway cause the whole archive is password-protected! Wohoo!”. You send the email once again, this time to your friend, and you both laugh at the photos for the rest of the evening.
 
Next day you come to your office as always, but all the colleagues behave in a weird way – they giggle behind your back, throw quick glances at you or simply burst into loud laughter every time they see you. “What the…?” – you can’t stop thinking. On a lunch break some loyal colleague sits beside you and says “Nice party it was, yeah?”. You sandwich is stuck in your throat. “And how do YOU know?” – you barely utter. “C’moon, everyone knows! You’ve shared a ZIP archive with photos with all of us yesterday. Some people have even made them their wallpapers”. “How come, they were password-protected!” – you cry out desperately. “Yes, some of them were. But few of them were lying there just like that, with no protection at all. Oh look, and here comes our Boss. He looks as if he has something to say. He also saw your stuff”…
 

 
OK. Now before you’ve got too frightened, let’s get back to our awesome and peaceful reality, where B1 Free Archiver rules.
 
How could the alternative-you get into such a trap? To see “how”, just try adding a file to an already encrypted ZIP archive using WinRAR, for example. You hit the “Add” button, choose a file and add it. Did you see any notification, warning, any options? No. The unprotected files arrived to a password-protected archive just like that. Barefoot, naked, unguarded. A small asterix symbol that suggests which files are protected is hardly noticeable. And yes, anybody, who receives the archive can visualize the newly added files.
 

 
Now try opening this semi-protected archive with B1 Free Archiver.
 
First, you will see the notification that warns you that not all files in the archive are protected with password.
 

 
Second, you can easily tell the unprotected files (in red) from the protected ones (with small images of keys on the icons).
 

 
Finally, B1 Free Archiver has a unique procedure of adding files to password-protected archives. Following such a procedure you will hardly get so screwed as in this small horror-passage outlined before. But that’s a whole other story. And you can read it in our next post.
 
The pictures were created with the help of this wonderful Android app – BitStrips.