Has anybody used a good obfuscator for PHP? I've tried some but they don't work for very big projects. They can't handle variables that are included in one file and used in another, for instance.

Or do you have any other tricks for stopping the spread of your code?

Solution 1

You can try PHP protect which is a free PHP obfuscator to obfuscate your PHP code.
It is very nice, easy to use and also free.
EDIT: This service is not live anymore.

As for what others have written here about not using obfuscation because it can be broken etc:
I have only one thing to answer them - don't lock your house door because anyone can pick your lock.
This is exactly the case, obfuscation is not meant to prevent 100% code theft. It only needs to make it a time-consuming task so it will be cheaper to pay the original coder. Hope this helps.

Solution 2

People will offer you obfuscators, but no amount of obfuscation can prevent someone from getting at your code. None. If your computer can run it, or in the case of movies and music if it can play it, the user can get at it. Even compiling it to machine code just makes the job a little more difficult. If you use an obfuscator, you are just fooling yourself. Worse, you're also disallowing your users from fixing bugs or making modifications.

Music and movie companies haven't quite come to terms with this yet, they still spend millions on DRM.

In interpreted languages like PHP and Perl it's trivial. Perl used to have lots of code obfuscators, then we realized you can trivially decompile them.

perl -MO=Deparse some_program

PHP has things like DeZender and Show My Code.

My advice? Write a license and get a lawyer. The only other option is to not give out the code and instead run a hosted service.

See also the perlfaq entry on the subject.

Solution 3

Nothing will be perfect. If you just want something to stop non-programmers then here's a little script I wrote you can use:

if (!$infile || !$outfile) {
    die("Usage: php {$_SERVER['argv'][0]} <input file> <output file>\n");
echo "Processing $infile to $outfile\n";
// compress data
// encode in base64
// generate output text
// write output text

Solution 4

I'm not sure you can label obfuscation of an interpreted language as pointless (I'm unable to add a comment to Schwern's post, so here goes a new entry).

I think it's a little shortsighted to assume you know all the possible scenarios where someone would like to obfuscate code, and you assume that anyone will actually be willing to go to whatever necessary lengths to view that code once obfuscated. Consider my current scenario:

I work for a consulting company that is developing a large and fairly sophisticated PHP-based site. The project will be hosted on a client's server that is hosting other sites developed by other consultancies. Technically any code we write is owned by the client, so we can't license it. However, any other consultancy (competitor) with access to the server can copy our code without getting permission from the client first. We therefore have a genuine reason for obfuscation - to make the effort required for a competitor to understand our code more than the effort of creating a copy of our work from scratch.

Solution 5

See our SD Thicket PHP Obfuscator for an obfuscator that works just fine with arbitrarily large sets of pages. It operates primarily by scrambling identifier names. With modest to large applications, this can make the code extremely difficult to understand, which is the entire purpose.

It doesn't waste any energy on "eval(decode(encodedprogramcode))" schemes, which a lot of PHP "obfuscators" do [these are "encoder"s, not "obfuscator"s], because any clod can find that call and execute the eval-decode himself and get the decoded code.

It uses a language-precise parser to process the PHP; it will tell you if your program is syntactically invalid. More importantly, it knows the whole language precisely; it won't get lost or confused, and it won't break your code (other that what happens if you obfuscate "incorrectly", e.g., fail to identify the public API of the code correctly).

Yes, it obfuscates identifiers identically across pages; if it didn't do that, the result wouldn't work.

Solution 6

The best I've seen is Zend Guard.

Solution 7

Try this one: http://www.pipsomania.com/best_php_obfuscator.do

Recently I wrote it in Java to obfuscate my PHP projects, because I didnt find any good and compatible ready written on the net, I decided to put it online as saas, so everyone use it free. It does not change variable names between different scripts for maximum compatibility, but is obfuscating them very good, with random logic, every instruction too. Strings... everything. I believe its much better then this buggy codeeclipse, that is by the way written in PHP and very slow :)

Solution 8

Thicket Obfuscator for PHP

The PHP Obfuscator tool scrambles PHP source code to make it very difficult to understand or reverse-engineer (example). This provides significant protection for source code intellectual property that must be hosted on a website or shipped to a customer. It is a member of SD's family of Source Code Obfuscators.

Solution 9

Using SourceGuardian is good as it comes with a cool and easy to use GUI.

But be aware:

Pay attention to its -rather funny- licensing terms.

  • You are only allowed to run 1 per machine -so far this is acceptable
  • If you want to run the command line interface on another machine, say your web server, YOU WILL NEED ANOTHER LICENSE (Yes, it's funny and I can hear you laughing too).

Solution 10

Obfuscation is only adding another layer of potential bugs and security vulnerabilities to your program. Please don't do it.

The kind of people who write obfuscation software usually seem very sketchy and non-skilled anyway.

If your code is "great", crackers will go through great lengths to spread it, regardless of whether or not it is obfuscated. If nobody knows/cares about your code, they probably won't, either.