Code Obfuscation

Ronald Hernández | April 27, 2021

These days, it is pretty easy to access different codes for different projects, such as open-source projects; in some cases, these allow you to modify the code to your requirements. However, projects that are not open-source do not give the user access to sections of the code, such as the source code. For example, when creating software, many companies will want to keep the code secure and will not grant the final user access to it so as to maintain code integrity. In these cases, the company remains the sole owner of the source code. This is of great importance because if allowed to edit the code, ill-intentioned users can attempt to re-sell the product, attack the organization, distribute the product with a crack so it can be used without a license, etc.

What is Code Obfuscation?

In technology, obfuscation is synonymous with security. It is a tool that is used to increase code security. In general terms, obfuscation converts a software or project’s code into a code that is harder to understand by humans. It does so by applying encryption mechanics and patterns to avoid access to critical sections of the code. 

Why Code Obfuscation

Intellectual property: Code obfuscation helps to safeguard intellectual property. Every time code is created, it becomes the company’s or your own intellectual property. If the software or project you are working on is not open-sourced and you would not like to share your code or have it copied, then code obfuscation can help avoid violations of intellectual property rights in technology-related projects. It is important to note that for some companies, the code used in their software is what grants them a competitive advantage in the market. 

Increased code security: Applying code obfuscation improves the code’s and the company’s security. It helps to curtail methods used to access sensitive data by utilizing data encryption, credential requirements to access other services, data user credentials, etc. 

Obfuscation Tools Available in the Market

Javascript Obfuscator:

 https://awesomeopensource.com/project/javascript-obfuscator/javascript-obfuscator 

Obfuscation for .NET Framework: 

https://babelfor.net/ 

Proguard, JavaScript and Android App: 

https://www.guardsquare.com/en/products/proguard 

Considerations and Conclusions

Keep in mind that code obfuscation has its disadvantages as well: it can present complications with error identification when a defect is found during execution. This happens because after obfuscation is applied, all methods are modified and logs can be affected too, making it harder to use the latter when identifying errors. So it’s important to take this into consideration. 

All in all, when it comes to security, code obfuscation is a key part of the measures technology companies should implement to keep their code safe. But it is not the only method that can be applied. It would be a mistake to think that a software’s code is secure solely because its code has been obfuscated. To ensure the code is truly safe, companies need to have security protocols and methodologies in place, applying best practices, defining processes and specifying security implementations.

 

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Obfuscation converts a software or project’s code into a code that is harder to understand by humans by applying encryption mechanics and patterns to avoid access to critical sections of the code. 
  2. Code obfuscation helps to increase code security and to protect intellectual property. 
  3. To make sure a software’s code is truly safe, companies need to have well-defined security protocols and methodologies in place.

 

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