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Encrypted ZIP Archives Leak Information

This post is just a quick note to remind people who use encrypted ZIP archives to store or transfer confidential information, that the headers of the archive are not encrypted. Therefore, the filenames, dates and sizes of all the files within the archive can be read by anyone, without the key. Is this a problem?

Well, I believe it is. Many people and organisations have naming conventions for files. How do you know which report to open if the filename doesn't give you some clue? Often filenames will include project names or codes, departments and even the names of the people writing the report. Would you give this information out to anyone walking down the street? I have seen targeted Spear Phishing attacks on users whereby emails have been sent with what look like project spreadsheets attached with the correct naming conventions and project codes. These attacks were very convincing for an unsuspecting user. Filenames can leak enough data to start launching social engineering attacks and to concentrate cracking effort on the correct files.

What can you do? Either don't use encrypted ZIP archives to send sensitive data, or rename every single file to random names before adding them to the encrypted archive (remember that you should really do this to all files every time you want to add anything to an encrypted archive, even if the filename doesn't reveal anything as otherwise you will again be potentially advertising the really sensitive files).

Comments

  1. What's the purpose of putting a key on an encrypted file if anyone can see it. This is indeed a really big problem. I hope you present more solutions to this problem. It would be a big help.

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