This is a tip that I’ve been using for a while (actually it was shown to a group of Beta Testers by one of the Programming Leads on the Windows Live Messenger project). If you’re trying to send files through Messenger, or e-mail, and they are being rejected by the other user (or by your Messenger or e-mail system) then try renaming the extention to .safe.
.safe has no associated file types, so Windows, Messenger, and most e-mail systems won’t even bother with it. Plus, it tells your recipient that you have scanned and feel that the file is virus-free. And since there’s no associated file type for .safe, it’s a safe bet (no pun intended) that your average virus or trojan won’t be using it.
So, how do you rename the extention and how does your end-user know what the original extention should be? There are a few methods for this. The renaming portion is simple. Open Windows Explorer (or My Computer in XP) and go to the folder that the file is in. Right click on the file name, and choose the “Rename” option. Then tap your right arrow key to clear the highlight. Now, you can either delete the three-letter extention after the . or add .safe to it (which method you choose depends on agreements between you and the recipient).
Your options for what method to use are many. Three that I normally would see are 1. removing the . from before the exe (or whatever file extention the file has) and replacing it with a -. This tells the recipient what the original file extention was. 2. Removing the .extention and replacing it with .safe (although you’ll have to tell your recipient what the original extention was). Or 3. adding .safe to the end of the extention (the only drawback is some e-mail systems may still trigger on the original extention).
Some examples of each are: 1. Original File: setupthisprogram.exe Munged file: setupthisprogram-exe.safe 2. Original File: setupthisprogram.exe Munged file: setupthisprogram.safe 3. Original File: setupthisprogram.exe Munged file: setupthisprogram.exe.safe
The more people that we can get to use this method, the harder it will be for viruses to sneak by us. If all of your recipients know that you’ll only send files with .safe in the extention, then they won’t accept files that don’t have it. So pass the word on. You don’t have to use .safe. But, you should use something that your recipients will recognize as being your signature. In fact, you could use your name or initials (assuming that they don’t fall into a ‘recognized file type’). Anything that will tell your recipients that YOU are sending the file (not a virus).
Have a great week everyone,