The Effectiveness of Source Code Obfuscation: an Experimental Assessment

Ceccato, Mariano and Di Penta, Massimiliano and Nagra, Jasvir and Falcarin, Paolo and Ricca, Filippo and Torchiano, Marco and Tonell, Paolo (2009) ‘The Effectiveness of Source Code Obfuscation: an Experimental Assessment’, 17th IEEE International Conference on Program Comprehension (ICPC-09). Vancouver (Canada) May 17-19. 2009, 178 - 187.

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Ceccato, M. (2009) ICPC 178-87.pdf - Accepted Version
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICPC.2009.5090041

Abstract

Source code obfuscation is a protection mechanism widely used to limit the possibility of malicious reverse engineering or attack activities on a software system. Although several code obfuscation techniques and tools are available, little knowledge is available about the capability of obfuscation to reduce attackers’ efficiency, and the contexts in which such an efficiency may vary. This paper reports the outcome of two controlled experiments meant to measure the ability of subjects to understand and modify decompiled, obfuscated Java code, compared to decompiled, clear code. Results quantify to what extent code obfuscation is able to make attacks more difficult to be performed, and reveal that obfuscation can mitigate the effect of factors that can alter the likelihood of a successful attack, such as the attackers’ skill and experience, or the intrinsic characteristics of the system under attack.

Item Type: Conference or Event Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Citation: Ceccato, M. et al. (2009) ‘The Effectiveness of Source Code Obfuscation: an Experimental Assessment’ In: 17th IEEE International Conference on Program Comprehension (ICPC-09), Vancouver (Canada) May 17-19, 2009, IEEE pp. 178 - 187.
Divisions: Schools > Architecture Computing and Engineering, School of
Depositing User: Mr Stephen Grace
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2010 15:26
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2013 13:12
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10552/691

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