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PKWARE extends ZIP standard to support strong encryption

PKWARE extends ZIP standard to support strong encryption


PKWARE Inc., a leader in Trusted ZIP Solutions, has extended the multiplatform ZIP standard, including added support for strong encryption, with the release of a new specification. The company also took steps to ensure the ZIP standard's continued open status and to enable independent developers of ZIP-compatible applications to maintain interoperability of their products by announcing a new publication policy for disseminating future changes and revisions to the ZIP file format.

Earlier this year, PKWARE introduced robust strong-encryption capabilities utilizing the RC2, RC4, DES, 3DES and AES encryption algorithms, including support for both password and certificate-based (public key) encryption. The specification released today contains the initial record identifiers developers need to avoid conflicts with the new strong encryption data fields. The ZIP standard specification will continue to be updated after PKWARE completes its implementation of this capability across all supported platforms.

"Establishing and maintaining the ZIP file format as a universal industry standard is an important part of our company's legacy," said Jim Peterson, chief technology officer for PKWARE. "In keeping with the tradition set out by founder Phil Katz, we want to ensure complete interoperability not only across multiple platforms, but also across multiple vendors' ZIP-compatible products. The release of this specification supports this effort."

"The inventors of ZIP continue to innovate and advance the standard, and the specifications and publication policy announced today will go a long way towards ensuring compatibility and interoperability not only for compression, but also security," said Charles J. Kolodgy, research director, security products at IDC. "With strong encryption becoming an increasingly important capability, the information released today is an important step in promoting its widespread use."

The specification, published as Application Note 5.2, also details the internal flags required to support BZIP2 compression, the record layouts for the MVS and AS400 operating systems, and defines a new storage location reserved for pending Unicode file name support. The specification also includes new mappings for compatible third-party extensions to the ZIP format, including the specific file attribute storage used by the ZipIt program.

"RSA Security invented public-key cryptography and has been the driving force in establishing the leading public-key cryptography standard specifications with secure system developers worldwide, said Victor Chang, vice president, developer solutions division at RSA Security "We support PKWARE's efforts in advancing the ZIP standard to accommodate strong encryption capabilities and applaud them for publishing their specification to ensure interoperability."

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) developed for use by U.S. Government organizations to protect sensitive information, and it is widely expected to gain broad industry support. ZIP compression standards are used universally throughout the industry to ensure quality and interoperability.

More information about PKWARE's ZIP File Format Specification can be found at

About PKWARE Inc.
PKWARE Inc., a provider of trusted ZIP solutions, is the originator and continuing innovator of the ZIP standard, one of the most widely used methods for advanced data compression on Windows, Unix/Linux, OS/400, MVS and other computing platforms. Since it was founded in 1986, the company has been dedicated to extending the ZIP standard into products that meet end-user and enterprise requirements for compressing files for efficient storage and transmission across all major enterprise platforms. In 2001, PKWARE extended the ZIP file format to include the ability to add strong authentication and encryption to ZIP archives, making it possible not only to compress files, but also to prevent unauthorized access and modification. For additional information, please visit

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