Zip a File, Password Protect, Email it, Unzip it

Our company has begun to receive requests from customers to email certain of their own financial information to them via email.

We'd like to do this in this manner:
1) Create the necessary file containing their information
2) "Zip" the file just created - using WinZip, WinRAR, or 7Zip - or any free utility.
3) "Password Protect" the zipped file with a predetermined password for the customer.
4) Email the zipped file to the customer as an attachment.
5) Provide them some sort of embedded utility to "unzip" the file once they receive it.

Steps 1 - 4 are pretty straightforward.  We foresee a problem concerning "unzipping" the file once they receive it unless they're using the exact same utility we used to create it.

We don't mind going through the manual steps for this process using any of the "zip" software.  However, a script file of some kind to automate these steps would be great.
baleman2Asked:
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Dino Brown IICommented:
You will not need any special file software for my suggestion. If they want it emailed to them I would suggest drafting the information into a microsoft word document. After doing this you will go to File > then make sure you're on the Info tab> Click Protect Document under Permissions. Then it will ask you for a password and to reconfirm the password. After you input the password you can then save the file to your desktop and attach it in an email and they will be able to open the file on their end with the password you set. It is a quick and simple method to achieve what you would like to do. Please note though, if you forget the password you will not be able to get into that document.
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
7-Zip has ability to make self extracting .EXE. Also password protect the .ZIP.
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
For added security, don't email the password along with the.EXE. Send a separate email or phone them.
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baleman2Author Commented:
The 3rd party software that we're using will allow the "Save As" option for the data we're sending to be ONLY the .xml format.

If that's "drafted" into a Word document, password protected (per your instructions), and sent via email to the recipient - must the recipient have Word installed on their computer in order to see the document?

Thus far, I'm unfamiliar with .xml documents.  If successfully extracted, what would the recipient need to open/view an .xml document?
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baleman2Author Commented:
I've just downloaded 7 zip and can see that I can "Add to Archive" to create the zipped file.  I can right-click on the .xml file created by our 3rd party software and receive the 7zip options.

If I save using 7zip and use the 7z format, I'm assuming the email recipient would need 7zip on their computer to unzip the file.  If I change the format to .zip, would the recipient need some sort of "zip" software to unzip the file?

Our domain policy will not allow us to send .exe files through our Exchange Server,
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
- In 7zip, change to.zip format instead of .7z.
- If they are using windows, it has built in zip extraction. No need to make .exe
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Leo AlexanderCommented:
I would recommend using Adobe Acrobat. Mostly everyone has Adobe Reader installed, which will ensure that they can open/read the document. Adobe Acrobat Pro has a an Action Wizard under the Tools option. This will allow you to create a process that can encrypt and password protect the document as well as export it. You can also import action files, which may contain more options that what is included by default. The docs should really be in a PDF format, especially if they are financial docs. Furthermore, a lot of clients' security policies prevent the opening of .zip files. Meaning, their corporate software remove the attachment. Have the PDF encrypted and password protected is most likely the best way to go. Sending Word docs is extremely amateur, in my opinion.
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akbCommented:
Many email servers will not allow sending or receiving of ZIP or EXE files.
As smartturtle suggested, PDF would be a good format to use.
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
True. Still, the OP didn't say zips are blocked.
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akbCommented:
The OP didn't say zips are blocked but they may not have control over the receiving email servers. It would certainly be worth testing this first before committing to ZIP or EXE formats.
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baleman2Author Commented:
Remember, our software vendor will generate the file(s) we nee in ONLY the .xml format, as in:  financial_info.xml.  This is the file that I will be "zipping" using 7zip.

When you speak of using the Adobe format, do you mean "zipping" it up in the .pdf format?  I don't see that available as a format within 7zip.

Please explain.
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akbCommented:
To use PDF format you would need to print a report to PDF format.
If you can't email ZIP or EXE files you can always rename them to a different extension and then the receiver renames it back.
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
...you can always rename them to a different extension and then the receiver renames it back.
This will work, assuming the servers scan based on filename and not file header/content.

Try it. Test it out.
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Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware EngineerCommented:
Yeah. 7zip self extractors, as exe files, tend to get blocked a LOT (and if you don't, you either need to use Winzip or 7zip's own native encryption, both of which require the recipient to have a suitable app installed). Personally, I would suggest 7z as at least that's free, so the recipient need only download and install it (and that can unprotect winzip encrypted files too, of course)

However, this is *exactly* the situation s/mime is designed for - encrypting emails and/or their attachments, to a limited number of recipients, without having to phone them and give them the password every time.

I would suggest investigating s/mime; its built into all email clients, so its just a case of the intended recipients generating and sending you their keys (which is not the easiest of tasks, but is still pretty easy)
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
@Dave,

Thanks for info on S/MIME. This is great for transmitting the email. Still, it doesn't protect the content which, in the end, seems to be what baleman2 wants.
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Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware EngineerCommented:
Not seeing how that doesn't protect the content - only the recipient can decrypt the message and its attachments? obviously, it would be unprotected once the recipient enters a key passphrase, but surely that's true of a zipfile also?
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
I meant to say the OP may have wanted a more portable version. Still, S/MIME may have been a solution.
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Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware EngineerCommented:
Downside of s/mime is getting recipients to set it up & send you their key - otherwise, very portable indeed (more likely to be supported on a smartphone,  for instance)
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NVITEnd-user supportCommented:
I see what you mean. Plus, one wouldn't have to deal with zip files on a phone. Is that even possible? Now, if I can just convince them that setup is a one-time thing. Where's that whip... Thanks, Dave!
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