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#1 assert(C)  Icon User is offline

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can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Post icon  Posted 20 July 2011 - 07:12 AM

Do you guys think that obfuscation of code will protect intellectual property.

I would like to here what you think???
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Replies To: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

#2 Aphex19  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 07:25 AM

It can do yes, it can prevent people from reverse engineering source code.

edit: In light of mostyfriedman's post, I agree, obfuscation only slows down attempts to reverse engineer code, not prevent it all together. Really though, obfuscating your code just in case someone gains access to it is not worth it.

This post has been edited by Aphex19: 20 July 2011 - 09:35 AM

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#3 jimblumberg  Icon User is online

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 07:26 AM

No. It will only make debugging, maintaining, and extending your program almost impossible.

Jim
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#4 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:12 AM

Generally I think obfuscation has little place in a professional environment.

Source code obfuscation only protects the code in those situations where someone has access to the source code. This is great for scripting languages like Javascript, bash scripts etc. Slightly less so for compiled platform languages such as Java/.net however these still benefit since decompiling is more robust on these platforms, however source code obfuscation has very little value in compiled languages such as C/C++.

Runtime obfuscation which attempts to mask runtime logic from debuggers is a mess since it can be very difficult to determine if errors were caused be faulty logic or some artifact of the obfuscation.

Of course I am a believer is OSS and so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. I think you should slap a license on there and then sue any infringers (see Apple vs HTC/Android) but then again I suppose such suits take a penny or two in order to win.

*Featured and moved to Corner Cubicle for a better discussion.
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#5 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:27 AM

View Postjimblumberg, on 20 July 2011 - 02:26 PM, said:

No. It will only make debugging, maintaining, and extending your program almost impossible.

Jim


I wouldn't go that far-- it only makes the job mildly complicated, but certainly not impossible.
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#6 mostyfriedman  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:31 AM

Obfuscation can only slow down reverse engineering attempts, but it cannot prevent it all together. A determined reverser can still get through it.
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#7 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:36 AM

likewise it makes the process or reverse engineering more complicated but certainly not impossible. Do you really wish to put your maintenance programmer into the same boat as the poor guy trying to reverse engineer your software?

Even if it is your code, just because you remember all the original source code today does not mean that 3 or 50 projects down the line you will remember how to decode the obfuscation.

Of course if you are using a tool for obfuscation the idea is that you (and your team) have access to the unobfuscated source and use a tool to generate the obfuscated version.

So debugging can still be a pain (gotta loveit when all error messages say there error is in line 1... gee so helpful). But at least you have the source.
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#8 enj316  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 09:02 AM

Obfuscation is most identified with malicious code, and thus non-nefarious uses of obfustcation run the risk of being falsely detected as malicious by anti-malware applications. Unless you are a large and influential software company these false detections are most likely be resolved later than sooner. There was a nice talk about this subject and other methods for application hardening at last year's Virus Bulletin conference (http://www.virusbtn.com/conference/vb2010/abstracts/RonchiZakhidov.xml). Unfortunately, signing your applicaitons will not prevent the labeling of suspicious or malicious from anti-malware products. Unfortunately, the solution to the problem is not readily available, but also talked about at Virus Bulletin conference was the notion of a packer standard (http://www.virusbtn.com/conference/vb2010/abstracts/ModyMuttikFerrie.xml).
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#9 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:09 AM

learn something new every day.
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#10 creativecoding  Icon User is online

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 12:45 PM

I remember a post awhile back saying "If I hired a guy and he sent me obfuscated code, he will be fired right away and I will request my money back.".
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#11 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 04:53 PM

You know, everyone has mentioned debugging, but honestly, you shouldn't be obfuscating your working code base. You can obfuscate a copy of the code for deployment without making it harder to maintain.

View Postcreativecoding, on 20 July 2011 - 02:45 PM, said:

I remember a post awhile back saying "If I hired a guy and he sent me obfuscated code, he will be fired right away and I will request my money back.".


First of all, it'd depend on the contract. Was the contract for code or for a program? If it's the second, which it usually is, I'd tell him to piss off, and not give him a dime back. Because we never agreed that I'd give him source code. If I were contracted to write source code for someone, then yes, obfuscated code is garbage.
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#12 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 20 July 2011 - 09:00 PM

Um,

Obfuscated code isn't affiliated with malicious code. Anyone who submits Android applications obfuscated their code when they package it up. Game designers/coders obfuscate their production code as well.

Minecraft obfuscates the code. You can run the byte code through a disassembler and see for yourself.

Obfuscation does not mean YOU should obfuscate the code. There are tools that can do a heck of a better job obfuscating code than a human can.
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#13 enj316  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:02 PM

View Poststackoverflow, on 20 July 2011 - 10:00 PM, said:

Um,

Obfuscated code isn't affiliated with malicious code. Anyone who submits Android applications obfuscated their code when they package it up. Game designers/coders obfuscate their production code as well.

Minecraft obfuscates the code. You can run the byte code through a disassembler and see for yourself.

Obfuscation does not mean YOU should obfuscate the code. There are tools that can do a heck of a better job obfuscating code than a human can.



How many anti-malware products run on the Android platform? Not many and heuristics and generic detection methods are not really necessary yet. Most products on the Android platform will rely on signature based detections. There is an emerging malware problem on the Android platform, and you can bet certain behaviors including obfuscation will start triggering detections as the problem gets worse. Obfuscation on platforms that have mature and advanced malware detection techniques will most likely trigger detections. It is true that ga,es have been using obfuscation for at least a few decades, but this is where the malware authors learned how to hide their code. Packers and obfuscates that have been used in malware before will trigger detections. For example, pack a PE binary that is not well known with UPX and submit it to VirusTotal.com. There is more than good chance that one or more of the scanning engines will flag it as suspicious just because of the UPX. If you application is evasive antimalware products are designed to consider it suspicious.

Does Apple allow obfuscation on their App platform? Honesty, I do not know.
On this subject, check out Jon O's paper on polypak service
http://jon.oberheide...lypack-pres.pdf
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#14 assert(C)  Icon User is offline

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Re: can obfuscation protect intellectual property ?

Posted 23 July 2011 - 07:35 AM

Thanks for all the replies if you think this was a good topic click the plus button

Cheers
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