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Risk Management

Does Obfuscation Affect Code Performance?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The digital age has built bridges to new frontiers. However, these frontiers aren’t limited to the well-intentioned. Unfortunately, malicious online characters are common, and studies show that a new cyber attack is carried out every 39 seconds. 

 

Such high cybercrime rates imply that keepers of online assets must find ways to protect those assets. In addition, coders face unique threats to their work, given that their products form the foundations of the digital world. Thankfully, there are ways to defend code from being accessed, reengineered, stolen, and abused.

 

Open-source code obfuscation is a security application technique that prevents all forms of hacking and tampering. It takes executed code/data and reorders it, rendering it unidentifiable to hackers and other third parties looking to cause trouble. The benefits of code obfuscation are numerous:

 

  • It defends open-source code information and data.
  • It can eliminate debugging loopholes.
  • It slows down hackers trying to re-engineer programs and applications.
  • It helps protect intellectual property.

 

Although obfuscation has considerable upsides, many ask the question: does obfuscation affect performance? It’s a common defense tactic, but many claim that it harms source code performance and decide that the tradeoff between execution and security isn’t worth it. 

 

It’s important to understand obfuscation, what it accomplishes, and its varying methods to engage in this debate with the necessary information. Only then should someone judge whether it’s the right decision for their digital assets.

 

What Is Code Obfuscation?

 

Code obfuscation is the process of encrypting and complicating lines of code, data, and communication loops. These measures cause hackers immense difficulty in interpreting and changing existing information. Ultimately, obfuscation stymies potential hackers, limiting their access and ability to steal and manipulate.

 

There’s a broad range of methods used to carry out code obfuscation. However, in essence, obfuscation is any method implemented to make source code harder to understand. Intense levels of encryption make it so hackers require more time and resources to figure out the code they’re trying to infiltrate.

 

Renaming Obfuscation

Renaming is one of the most common and accessible forms of obfuscation. This method is used in Java, IOS, Android, and NET. Renaming code consists of disguising the variable and method names while retaining the fundamental execution. It’s useful because it directly alters the source code, leaving the program’s functions untouched. 

 

Programmers can also insert “dummy code,” additional strings of false code that mean nothing and only exist to increase the difficulty of reverse engineering. Another method removes unnecessary and gratuitous lines of code and metadata, which improves performance and shrinks the availability of hackable material. 

 

Data Obfuscation

Obfuscation takes many forms, and another standard method is encrypting stored data that’s layered into the code. This form of security creates a barrier between hackers and the valuable data within the program and memory. Data obfuscation can involve aggregation and storage-based methods. 

 

Then there’s string encryption, which entails encrypting legible strings of code. Then, each time a line of code is needed, it must be deciphered before becoming usable again. 

 

In terms of implementation, data obfuscation is more intense than renaming methods. However, combining both practices leads to amplified security. 

 

Control Code Obfuscation

Plugging in additional control loops causes hackers to lose track of any sense of a program’s patterned intent. Furthermore, tinkering with the flow of the codebase — by entering dead-end statements, for example — leaves hackers struggling to find patterns. These statements create a labyrinth, making it especially challenging to reverse engineer a coding pattern.

 

Many consider control code obfuscation the most effective way to guard their program from hackers because it removes all logic from the code’s flow, confusing those looking to cause harm. 

 

Disadvantages of Code Obfuscation

With the what, why, and how of obfuscation established, it’s time to examine the other side of the aisle: why do some cast a wary eye on the practice of obfuscation?

 

The main weakness cited against obfuscation is that adding extra layers of security bogs down code performance. Some estimate that obfuscation can impact program performance between 10% and 80%. This criticism is reasonable because it’s true: adding obfuscation tactics results in extra layers of complexity and affects performance. But there are important caveats — namely that not all obfuscation methods impact performance to the same extent.

 

Renaming obfuscation rarely impacts code performance as it only deals with the semantic structure. As a result, the program function remains nearly identical after obfuscation. Any resulting performance drop-off from this method is minor, if not non-existent.

 

On the other hand, data and control flow obfuscation can sometimes cause a significant performance reduction depending on the intensity of the encryption. Baking additional safety layers into the data and code flow cause the application to take on extra work to execute its function. However, as opposed to renaming methods, data and control flow provide more comprehensive defense against hackers. 

 

Nothing is guaranteed, and there’s never 100% certainty that obfuscation prevents hacking. Some hackers can overcome even high levels of obfuscation. Nevertheless, obfuscation should always be considered because without it, the results can be severe.

 

Leaving Coding Insecure

The rate at which hackers attempt to steal information makes preparation vital to maintaining online safety. If that’s not a good enough reason, up to $400 billion in capital is lost to online hackers every year.

 

Even though obfuscating code comes with some slight downsides, nothing compares to being left helpless as hackers infiltrate, ruin, and steal the hard work of entire companies.

 

Refusing to obfuscate significantly increases the chances of falling prey to such schemes, which can lead to unimaginable consequences depending on what was left unsecured. Such dangers all but necessitate analyzing programs for weaknesses and finding the right solution to protect sensitive data. 

 

Forming a multi-layered obfuscation strategy is a great way to defend digital property from being stolen or attacked. Anyone looking for best-in-class code obfuscation needn’t look any further than PreEmptive’s vast offering of protective services. Visit PreEmptive’s product page for more information or to sign up for a free trial.

 

 

 

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101

Budgeting for DevSecOps: Key Points To Keep in Mind In Cybersecurity

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Cybersecurity is one of the areas of business that should never be ignored. Experts expect that cyberattacks will cost the world an estimated $10.5 trillion dollars in losses by 2025, making it an urgent priority for companies across every sector to get right. Not only can cyberattacks have a devastating impact on a company’s bottom line by leading to data breaches and other problems, they can also damage an organization’s reputation beyond repair. If a business fails to take the necessary time to address cybersecurity needs in its budget, it takes a significant risk that could cost them significantly if something goes wrong. 

Knowing how to budget for cybersecurity isn’t always easy. There’s more that goes into it than just buying software and hardware. Training staff and developing a culture of security within an organization must also be included.

Read on to find out how companies can make sure their cybersecurity budget meets their needs.

Know the Threat Landscape

Knowing the threat landscape is about knowing one’s enemy. Understanding what types of attacks are being used and by whom can help businesses better plan their security strategy. As malware authors continually evolve their approach, it’s crucial to stay informed about new threats and how they are being used.

In practical terms, that means:

  • Proactively monitoring the latest cyber attacks, including those identified by researchers at leading cybersecurity firms
  • Learning about new hacking and attack methods and vulnerabilities as soon as possible after their discovery
  • Maintaining up-to-date cyber protection on all systems with an internet connection

Companies should develop an acute awareness of the different attack vectors and vulnerabilities likely to affect their organization. Good managers will place themselves in the mind of an attacker and war game ways to overcome their own defenses. Would they implant Trojan viruses, or could they instead target one of the system administrators with phishing emails?

The conclusions that emerge will determine where and how the budget should be prioritized.

Don’t Just Think of One Single Network Perimeter

The best defense is a good offense, and this is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity. Businesses need to be proactive. The hackers are always working on newer, more advanced methods of attack, so defenders should plan for the future as a whole, not just threat parameters across one single network. They need a multilayered approach that will keep their network protected from threats internal and external alike.

Many breaches happen because companies are far too complacent with their cybersecurity measures. They rely too much on one single aspect of DevSecOps. But cyber attackers are getting smarter by the day: Defenders need to be flexible and adaptive.

Avoid Going Overboard

The point here is that cybersecurity budgets, like any other budget, should be managed with care. In determining the right amount to spend on cybersecurity in your organization, think about:

  • Risk Assessment. How high is the risk? What assets are most critical to protecting? What could happen if they were lost or compromised?
  • Cost. How much would it cost to recover from a breach? The more severe the potential financial damage, the more money businesses should consider directing toward cybersecurity.
  • Existing Controls. What defenses are already in place? If a company already has an extensive network of firewalls and intrusion detection systems, it may not need as much investment in additional security measures as another company.

Don’t budget more than is actually needed. The goal is to ensure that the right security measures are place to protect the organization. They don’t have to be the most expensive or sophisticated engineering solutions available.  They just need to work.

Think About the Cost of Underinvesting

The average data breach costs around $4 million, and this is just for the costs incurred directly by the victim. The real cost takes into consideration lost revenue and reputational damage.

Depending on the severity of the breach, businesses may be left dealing with an immediate loss of customer trust and reputation or even litigation from customers. It can also cause them to lose out on future business if customers don’t trust them with their money or personal information anymore.

Needless to say, no company can afford to take DevSecOps lightly.

Cybersecurity Is a Process, Not a Product

Cybersecurity should be a team effort that involves many people and departments throughout an organization. From the executive level to IT professionals to customer support personnel, everyone needs to be involved in cybersecurity efforts for the entire organization  to succeed.

It’s not enough for a network security team to just deploy their solution. Everyone needs to know how those solutions work and how they should be implemented. This includes ensuring that all new hires are trained on how these security solutions operate, so that everyone at the company understands and emphasizes cybersecurity in every aspect of their jobs.

They don’t need to know minute technical details, but they do need to understand the culture of cybersecurity and why it matters for their specific role in the company.

Budgeting Thoughtfully for Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a complex and ever-evolving field. To protect a business from cyber threats, cybersecurity defenders need to stay up to date on the latest security trends and technologies. But implementing good data hygiene practices takes time. There’s no quick fix for making sure all files have been properly encrypted or deleted.

  • Treat cybersecurity as a long-term investment. Cybersecurity isn’t something that can be put off until later — it’s an investment that can save businesses money long-term, but it’s also important to be thoughtful about how much it will cost and how best to spend that money.
  • Think beyond traditional IT solutions. Cybersecurity requires different skills than traditional IT, so don’t expect an existing IT staff to handle everything on their own. Businesses will also want someone who understands how human behavior affects security to help design processes that reduce the risk of someone inadvertently doing something that puts the company at risk.

Finding the Right Solution

One way for businesses to make sure their budgeting is on track is to work with someone who understands what kinds of threats exist and can give them realistic timelines for deploying effective solutions — and at what price point.


PreEmptive is committed to helping companies like yours protect their applications and networks from hackers, as well as ensuring that you are able to take control of your data. We offer free demos so you can see what we have to offer, and if you decide that our products are right for your business needs, we’ll be happy to work with you on a plan that fits within your budget.


Categories
Risk Management

5 Ways PreEmptive Boosts Productivity in Your SDLC With DevSecOps

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Devsecops is quickly becoming instrumental for businesses that want to boost productivity. According to the 2021 GitLabs DevSecOps report, teams that use a devsecops approach to generating their code got their work out the door 60% faster than those that didn’t. That’s a massive improvement in efficiency and productivity.

You can reap the same rewards by taking a devsecops approach early in your systems development lifecycle (SDLC). Keep reading to learn the five most important ways that early devsecops implementation can streamline your SDLC and what it means to take a devsecops approach.

What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps

The term devsecops is short for “development, security, operations.” It’s the next evolution of the “devops” culture and approach to development. In DevOps, the development and operations teams work together closely to ensure that the program is designed from the ground up to meet functionality goals and deadlines. 

Devsecops goes one step further by rolling the security team into the development process. Instead of having a DevOps group and a Security group, everyone on the project is responsible for ensuring it’s secure. This helps prevent fundamental security flaws from being baked into the final product and reduces the risk of costly security fixes after development is complete. 

Building a devsecops culture within your business helps you accomplish this by providing five main benefits. When your team is dedicated to pursuing devsecops goals throughout the SDLC, you can:

1. Improve Communication

The traditional approach to application development involves siloed teams. Each part of the development process is handled by separate groups. These groups don’t typically work together and only communicate about the project when it’s moved from one team to the next. As a result, communication delays are common, and miscommunications can cause problems that take weeks to resolve. 

Taking a devsecops approach can resolve this issue entirely. Instead of having siloed teams working separately, everyone is working on it at the same time. The group can easily communicate and bring up potential problems in advance, saving time and effort in the long run. 

You can further improve communication about security concerns by implementing security solutions in your application from the very beginning. PreEmptive makes it easy for everyone on your team to ensure the app is secure, including non-specialists. Everyone can communicate in the same language and avoid delays since they’re all working with the same tools.

2. Implement Early Testing

Devsecops allows you to start performing critical tests early before it becomes cost-prohibitive to make essential changes. There’s no need to wait until the project is nearing completion to send it to the security team. Since everyone is responsible for security, and protective features and architecture should be included from the very start, it’s possible to start security testing significantly earlier in your SDLC. 

Working with a tool like PreEmptive makes early testing easier to accomplish. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or worry about whether your tests will miss something. You can simply verify that the PreEmptive hardening features are working as intended. 

This early testing can significantly improve your team’s productivity. You can catch potential flaws and risks right away when they can be fixed in hours or days. The result is less time wasted on preventable fixes and more time spent on features that matter.

3. Incorporate Security Into Metric Monitoring

Many teams monitor productivity metrics to determine how well they’re performing. When you’ve built a devsecops security culture, you can include your security teams in your monitoring process to understand how your project is going. 

This holistic overview helps you spot places where you’re inefficient. You can quickly address delays or redundant processes and refine your SDLC to reach peak performance. 

4. Integrate Shared Knowledge

Another benefit of devsecops culture is the way it encourages sharing knowledge. A well-structured devsecops approach means that everyone does a little of everything. Having team members share their knowledge ensures that the loss of one person won’t derail an entire project. Someone else will have a basic understanding of what needs to be done to keep things moving. 

Furthermore, this team culture can benefit your project as a whole. Collaboration between groups with different skill sets leads to more robust, secure projects, particularly when they have high-quality tools to work with. Providing shared security tools like PreEmptive reinforces this knowledge transfer and collaboration, making your final product even better. 

5. Institute Automation

A quality devsecops team will prioritize the use of automation. When your development and security teams are one and the same, it’s easy to build high-quality security automation from the beginning of your SDLC. This can make all the difference down the road. 

Security automation includes attributes like:

  • Obfuscation: Protecting sensitive information and code through renaming, encryption, and minification.
  • Tamper detection: Identifying and shutting down outside attempts to adjust your application without permission.
  • Control-flow: Ensuring that outside forces can’t affect the commands issued within your application.

The sooner these features are built into an application, the less likely it is to contain major security flaws. Devsecops ensures that you can bake in automated security protection while your app is still in early development.

PreEmptive makes it easy to automate your app’s security from the moment your team begins work. It’s as easy as adding your chosen solution to your app, with no need to send your sensitive or protected code to a third party at any point. You get the benefits of automated security and regular updates while keeping your code in-house.


Make DevSecOps Easier With PreEmptive

It’s never too early to start thinking about application protection and security. Devsecops is the best way to make sure your app is secure from the moment you begin development. 

If you want to make devsecops a fundamental part of your SDLC, PreEmptive makes it simple. By adding a PreEmptive security solution like DashO, JSDefender, or Dotfuscator to your app, you ensure that security is baked into your design. Learn more about how PreEmptive can help you accomplish your security goals, or start your free trial today.