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Why Is Code Obfuscation Important For Your App Security?

4 Mins read

One of the most important aspects of programming is to protect your hard work from being stolen. You need to understand that it is very easy for attackers to get into your code and they will be able to reuse all your efforts for their benefits. Most people do not pay attention to such things and they end up losing all their efforts in this manner. However, the most intelligent programmers understand the importance of code obfuscation which is a method used to make the code unreadable or unusable for others.

Extreme Measures Are Taken By Programmers

You will be surprised to know that sometimes, app developers need to take extreme measures in order to protect the code. It can go to the extent of deleting the code when there is a suspicious attack on your app. During such an emergency, the most important code is deleted by the programmers so that attackers do not gain access to the code. Even though it interrupts the performance of the app, it is worth doing as this method will be able to protect your code in the long run.

However, you need not go to this extreme in every situation as there are better methods to safeguard your code from hackers. To begin with, you need to understand that it is impossible to make your code completely safe when you have kept it online or when it is in a place that can be accessed online. Given this situation, it makes sense to modify your code in such a way that others cannot use it even if they gain access to your code. In simple terms, you are making the code useless for others. This reduces your risk by a huge margin.

Is It Impossible To Decode Obfuscated Code?

It is not entirely impossible to again rebuild the code from obfuscated code. Some experts may be able to crack the logic or the entire code by reverse engineering or other complicated methods. However, by choosing to obfuscate the code, you are reducing the chances of your code getting reused by a considerable margin. It takes a lot of effort and expertise to decode the obfuscated code. For this reason, most people will not waste their time on such attempts and leave the obfuscated code. In this manner, your code will be protected in the long run.

Does Obfuscation Alter The Working Of The App?

Even though obfuscation completely alters the source code, it does not alter the working of your app in any manner. It remains functionally equivalent to the original code and you will be able to use it again without any hassles. During this simple process, the code is deliberately altered so that humans do not understand the code in an easy manner. It becomes difficult to read such code and hackers will not be able to reverse engineer the software in future.

Is Obfuscation The Same As Encryption?

Even though the purpose of encryption and obfuscation is to protect your code, the way they function is entirely different. In this regard, it can be clearly said that obfuscation is different from encryption and even more complicated. 

The purpose of encryption is to modify the data in such a manner that it can be kept as a secret and others will not be able to use it. In this regard, the code that is encrypted needs to be decrypted and only then it can be used by the other person. In a real-world example, the messages you send on your smartphone apps are encrypted in most cases. It means that the code is modified as soon as it leaves your smartphone and it is decrypted at the receiver’s end. Due to this encryption, if the data is leaked anywhere in between the sender and receiver, it will not be useful as it cannot be read without decryption.

Most secure servers encrypt data and the level of encryption determines the level of security provided for the information. It is also possible to encrypt the code many times and it has to be decrypted the same number of times before it can be used at the other end. However, when it comes to using encryption methods in coding, it is not possible as it has to be decrypted before execution.

Obfuscation is useful in this situation as it makes it difficult for humans to understand the data. The information is modified suitably so that it does provide any benefits to the other person who gains access to the information. The advantage with obfuscation is that there is no need to de-obfuscate the data to execute it at the other end. The code still remains the same functionally and you will be able to use it without any hassles. In simple terms, the code works perfectly even after obfuscation.

Are There Any Drawbacks Of Using Obfuscation?

There are few drawbacks of using the code obfuscation method. In some cases, users will get a warning when they visit a website that has been obfuscated. This usually happens when the user is accessing the website from a computer that has an antivirus installed to protect the online activity. In this regard, it is important to understand that all the antivirus programs may not behave in the same manner and it varies by a huge margin. Apart from that, when the obfuscation is carried out for security reasons, it may even stop the users from accessing the site. In this manner, there is a risk of losing visitors in some cases.

However, there are more advantages of using this method to protect the code. In this manner, you need to carefully evaluate the benefits of using this method for your apps before you implement such techniques in your code. It is also possible to obfuscate some portion of your code and keep the remaining as it is without any modification. There are different methods of obfuscation and you can choose whichever suits your situation perfectly in the long run.