Special Issue Paper

International Journal of Information Security

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 115-123

First online:

On the security of the WinRAR encryption feature

  • Gary S.-W. YeoAffiliated withInformation Security Research (iSECURES) Laboratory, Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus)
  • , Raphael C.-W. PhanAffiliated withInformation Security Research (iSECURES) Laboratory, Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus) Email author 

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Originally written to provide the file compression feature, computer software such as WinRAR and WinZip now also provide encryption features due to the rising need for security and privacy protection of files within a computer system or for sharing within a network. However, since compression has been much in use well before users saw the need for security, most are more familiar with compression software than they are with security ones. Therefore, encryption-enabled compression software such as WinRAR and WinZip tend to be more widely used for security than a dedicated security software. In this paper, we present several attacks on the encryption feature provided by the WinRAR compression software. These attacks are possible due to the subtlety in developing security software based on the integration of multiple cryptographic primitives. In other words, no matter how securely designed each primitive is, using them especially in association with other primitives does not always guarantee secure systems. Instead, time and again such a practice has shown to result in flawed systems. Our results, compared to recent attacks on WinZip by Kohno, show that WinRAR appears to offer slightly better security features.


Compression Encryption feature Attacks WinRAR WinZip