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Archived Message:

the dangers of .exe files

jonnyg111 I friend has emailled with the following concerns over a .exe ebook I have sent him:

Thank you so much – this is a lovely resource! May I put it in the ‘maths staff shared area’ at school for colleagues to access to use with their classes?Unfortunately it may not work at school, since I think we are not allowed to open .exe files on the school network. Also, I got a warning when I opened the file, saying that the file might be dangerous. I just clicked ‘OK’, since I know you, but others might be less happy doing that – can you create an ebook in a different format to get round these difficulties?

Posted on: 12:07 pm on October 24, 2006
jonnyg111 Soory, I meant to add to the above: does anyone have any advice as to how I could reply to him?

Posted on: 12:13 pm on October 24, 2006
RiffRaff Fairly common problem : I've had the same, because of the way (in my case) that MS sets Outlook up.
Zipped files solved my problem, but in one case the recipient's (administered/office networked) system still wouldn't let him run it even after unzipping.
Lower the security level is one answer, but who wants to do that? It's there for a purpose....
Let's see what your post trawls up, 'cos I suspect the answer (assuming there is one) will be useful to all....

Posted on: 12:34 pm on October 24, 2006
jonnyg111 Thanks for your reply, Riffraff. Just to be clear about my questions:

1. Is opening a .exe file always going to be a risk (like an Excel file containing macros)?  

2. Are there formats for ebooks that are guaranteed to be free from viruses etc, ie that are always totally safe to open?

3. What if say a college network does not allow .exe files to be saved onto it and opened? Are there any ways round this?

Posted on: 4:54 pm on October 24, 2006
Storyman Hi JonnyG111,

1) On some machines a warning about the .exe file will always open mainly because of anit-virus protection software. The only way around it is to get a certificate from Microsoft that assures the user the program has verified by MS. Can't tell you how to do this, but if you do find out please post your results.

2) The only format that is considered virus free are PDF files. The main downfall with PDF files is that unless you a considerable amount of money there is no way to protect a PDF from file sharing. There are several providers who claim to protect PDF from file sharing. What these providers don't usually tell you, until you've commited some money, is that they are wrapped in an .exe file--which takes it back to your original problem.

If you want to research how to protect PDF files what you looking for is Adobe's Live Cycle. Adobe doesn't list the price on their site. You have to contact Adobe and the last time I checked it was just north of $40K. The companies who have purchased Live Cycle generally want $500+ USD for each book title.

3) What you didn't mention is if they are paying you a license fee to make your ebook available on a network. Considering the loss of sales you should expect compensation beyond a single book sale.

The first thing to do is ask if there is an IT person that you might speak to regarding the .exe issue. Ask if it would be possible to have him install it after using his favorite anti-virus programs (they usually use several).

There is a steady debate on if ebooks should be released as an .exe file or PDF. The question boils down to one of security, file sharing, and piracy. On the one hand it is convenient for the customer to use an automatic payment system and to automatically get the password. On the other hand PDFs open without any warnings.

The question comes down to if you are going to lose sales because of file sharing (PDF) or have to deal with the warning window that sometimes opens on .exe files. Keep in mind that anyone on the network can copy either the PDF or .exe file. With the PDF it is a lost sale and with the .exe it is a potential sale.

Posted on: 6:14 pm on October 24, 2006
jonnyg111 Thank you for this very comprehensive reply.

Posted on: 7:11 pm on October 24, 2006
rlemire I wonder? With PDF files now jumping on the JavaScript band wagon, are they still going to be regarded as a "safe" product??

Fill out a form one day, trash your computer the next...

Posted on: 5:47 am on October 26, 2006
Storyman At this time PDFs have a limited set of Javascript commands. Maybe for the reason you point out.

Posted on: 8:55 pm on October 26, 2006

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