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FAQ / DATA SECURITY > WHY MULTIPLE FILE EXTENSIONS
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Files with double / hidden extension



HIDDEN OR MULTIPLE FILE EXTENSION MEANING

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FILE EXTENSIONS

tar.gz



Legitimate use of double file extension


PeaZip can handle and create files with double extension; most common cases for having have a file with two extensions are

tar.gz extension


When a compression only algorithm - most common ones are GZip Deflate, BZip2 or 7-Zip's lzma XZ compression - is applied to multiple files, which consequnetly needs to be consolidated into a single archive - most times a TAR file - before the compression step (also known as solid mode compression).

This result in the first step archiving extension (e.g. TAR file) being pre-pended to second step compression extension (e.g. XZ).

Extracting TAR.GZ / TAR.BZ / TAR.XZ files could be treated as atomic, single step operation, but usually (as in PeaZip, 7-Zip and other archival utilities) extraction of compressed TAR files is a two step process which firstly uncompress the TAR archive, and then unarchive the contained files and folder structure.

zip.001 extension


Spanned, multi volume archive


Risks of "Hide known file extensions" option


A completely unrelated use of double file extension spread after Micorsoft set "Hide known file types extensions" option enabled by default for Windows XP and newer systems - this is still the default behavior on Vista, 7, 8, 10 - opening the ground for attack exploiting hidden files extensions.

This option allows an attacker to trivially add a file extension before the true one in order to mask the real nature of the file - being the last file extension hidden by default to end users by the system in file browser and most applications following system's file browser policies.

In example, an executable virus named attachment.exe can be renamed in attachment.doc.exe.
By deafult, end user would be prompted "attachment.doc" (or any other harmless file extension used by the attacker, i.e. .jpeg, .mpg), but once clicked the file would be executed as .exe file (true file extension) by the system.
In this way an executable file that should trigger a great level of awareness and caution from user (e.g. .exe, .scr, .bat, .vb, .js...) can be easily masked as harmless, common, file type to mislead end user.

PeaZip file and archive browser never hide file extension, avoiding this type of forgery.
Moreover PeaZip warns each time an executable or script file is being executed from an archive, in this way 1) the user is made aware of the potentially harmful nature of the file 2) the user can evaluate if it is needed to extract the whole archive before, as executable and script files could need some archived resources (i.e. dll) to be available in uncompressed form before properly running.

Sometimes files with double extension are treated as suspicious ones, but if it is the right case for executable ones (exe or script file type as last extension), it is definitely NOT the case for archive files with double extension, being TAR.something very common file types - especially on *x systems.

More information about file extensions


External online resources: what are file extensionsfile extension wiki, list of known file typesfilename extension, TARtwo file extensions archive format, which usually comes with a second extension (tar.gz, tar.bz) declaring the compression scheme applied to the tar container.

Topics and serach suggestions: double file extension, exploiting hidden file extension forgery, security, virus, scripts, disguised executables, attack, show / hide extension for known file types wiki, TAR.GZ, TAR.BZ, TAR.XZ, multiple file extensions, fake file format extension.


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Features of PeaZip includes extract, create and convert multiple archives at once, create self-extracting archives, split/join files, strong encryption with two factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure deletion, find duplicate files, calculate hashes, export job definition as script.

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