Code obfuscation is the act of obscuring or hiding the source code used in software development to prevent its reverse engineering. In general, an executable file contains a list of instructions written as a program for a computer to execute as well as all other supporting data for the execution. Exposing source code to those involved in software development could lead them to learn about vulnerabilities and have enough information to build ways around it.
Many developers opt for open-source packages that allow them to examine the source code before using it. However, suppose they notice something malicious within it. In that case, they cannot contact the author without exposing their own identity – nor can they even check that this action was truly performed by another user rather than just adding fake content into their own copy.
Code obfuscation makes reverse engineering code more complex and is increasingly employ it to protect their intellectual property, leading to many benefits for software developers and sellers alike.
List of benefits:
1) Preventing piracy and unauthorized access: By obscuring or hiding the source code, it becomes more challenging for would-be pirates to ‘crack’ the program to use it themselves without purchasing a license – especially if they are unable to view it the source code at all. Furthermore, because most legitimate customers are not willing to put in extra effort just to crack open an application, even if they have full access privileges, only those who want it enough will continue with this process, leading to higher sales.
2) Better for the brand: Companies are concerned about their reputation, especially in a market where literally everything is copied. A visible code makes it easy for someone to hack into the software and change its content or algorithm which could damage the reputation of both seller and product alike – even more, if pirate groups decide to release viruses containing symbols connected with the brand itself. Therefore, companies often opt for obfuscating their source code so that others cannot steal their intellectual property simply by looking at it without knowing how it works first.
3) Maintaining high standards: When releasing software applications under an open-source license, there are some rules set on how this can be done – one being that the source code must remain available to all. However, there have been instances where groups change the original code to include viruses and malware instead of simply releasing a patch with a fix which could damage the company’s reputation even more – therefore, not allowing anyone else to see one’s source code might be beneficial as it prevents such mistakes from happening in the first place.
4) Hiding security flaws: In addition to preventing unauthorized access, obfuscating the information contained within an application makes it difficult for those who may want to access it illegally as it is much harder to find exploits that would allow them into the file. For example, suppose a piece of software saves user data locally without encrypting it. In that case, this data becomes accessible by others, leading to identity theft or even selling valuable information. However, if this file is obfuscated, it will make it more difficult for anyone else to identify where the critical data is stored and thus steal it – making software with vulnerabilities less valuable on the illegal market.
5) Making code reusable: When working on multiple projects at once, developers often need to reuse some pieces of code which they previously wrote or downloaded from another source. There are many benefits to doing this as it saves time and allows them to focus on other issues instead of having to start from scratch by reinventing the wheel every time; however, when using open-source material there are always risks that someone has tampered with it or removed parts that were meant for its functionality which could lead to errors. When source code is obfuscated, it becomes more difficult for others to alter the materials developers are working on, meaning that they will be more reliable and save you time by not having to keep checking for flaws or bugs.
6) Preventing theft of intellectual property: Source code represents the intellectual property of software companies as they have spent a lot of time perfecting it before releasing their product into the market – however, this is also the case with open-source material too. For example, suppose someone manages to access one’s file either through hacking or some other means. In that case, they might use the information within it to create their own program, which could prove less effective than theirs – stealing away customers who would otherwise benefit from the product they have to offer. Therefore, keeping their code secure and making it difficult for others to access means that they cannot steal intellectual property from them and use it in their own products.
7) Less risk of malware: While it might seem unfair that larger companies are able to pay for obfuscating source code while smaller ones may not – there is also a benefit coming out of this as those who are unable to afford this process could be at risk of being targeted by criminal organizations. For example, if someone used an exploit within one’s software which allowed them to insert illegal material without altering any other part of the program then it might lead police straight back towards their door should they be caught with something considered offensive or detrimental to society, whether that would be due to the software itself or the fact that they downloaded it illegally. If there are no publicly known vulnerabilities within your file then this is less likely to happen as people are less likely to risk being caught – however, if one is using open-source material then anyone could have made changes which allow for these kinds of things, meaning that criminals may work out how to get in and make use of them.
8) Preventing reverse engineering: When code is obfuscated, it becomes more difficult for others who would like to gain access but not necessarily with good intentions. For example, when companies sign an agreement with their clients, they might include a clause which states that source code will remain private unless specific permission is granted by the other side, meaning that the code should not be shared with anyone else. If someone were to try and reverse engineer this material, it would not be as easy to access.
Code Obfuscation is a code for the present and the future.