Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Blocking .pif is a no-brainer

I’ve mentioned this now and again over the past few months but I’m now only checking my old address roughly weekly, since barely anyone emails it now and it was getting spammed to hell.
It’s also a magnet for spam, and a regular flow of Netsky variant D came flooding in today. Which is somewhat inexusable for the following reasons:

  1. It uses the .pif extension. Of all the gazillions of emails that have ever been sent, I bet that about 5 have had legitimate attachments with a .pif extension. All the rest will be viruses, and so it’s a no-brainer to block emails with attachments that have that extension.
  2. MyRealBox claims to have virus protection. So why aren’t these emails being blocked for being infected with viruses?

I know MyRealBox is only an ‘experimemtal’ service and they’re now no longer taking new signups but blocking these emails would seem obvious to me. It would certainly save them disk space on their servers.


  1. I’m not familiar with Windows file name extensions… what does the .pif extension represent?

  2. .pif stands for Program Information File, and a .pif file would contain information that would allow Windows to run a legacy DOS program – it would say whether the user wanted it running in a window or full-screen, what font to use, whether to allow the mouse to work etc. They can also include executable code.

  3. I received a .pif file today, which isn’t an extension I recognised at first. I make a point of never opening attachments that aren’t from someone I know so I wouldn’t have opened it anyway, but Hotmail are blocking these attachments automatically now. I don’t see why not everyone is doing this!

  4. Ah, thanks for the info Neil.
    Yes, the only time I’ve ever encountered .pif in the past is when I was deleting wormed emails from my inbox. I guess if you need to send a .pif file over email it is best to zip it? (and it sounds like a .pif without a .exe or something is useless anyway)

  5. Thanks for the heads-up!

  6. It is always good to zip data you send via mail. Saves bandwidth and makes it easier to handle multiple files.
    Since PIF is outdated anyway(only needed for Dos-Applications in a Windows environment, you could use a .lnk), I totally agree.

  7. I recieved recently a .pif file from somebody i know couln’nt have send a virus contained files to me. But my problem is, how do I go about opening it.