Mobile applications today are susceptible to a range of security threats and the developers are required to adopt security practices to thwart these types of attacks. Less than 50% of financial apps on the Android Market place have proper security measures installed in them. This means apps are vulnerable to various kinds of threats including IP theft, app clones, sensitive data loss, and reputational damage among others. There are several tools and methodologies for Android Studio that facilitate code obfuscation such as Proguard and DexGuard.
ProGuard serves three main functions
ProGuard is used in Android applications and large Java applications including libraries. It also makes reverse engineering difficult.
Features of ProGuard
ProGuard is critical to reducing app size and optimizing the applications as well. It can achieve these functions through a variety of techniques. Let’s understand each of the functions in detail.
Shrinking refers to reducing the size of APKs or applications. Unused codes are removed from both, the application and the libraries. Shrinking is achieved through two main phases:
- Code shrinking
Code shrinking includes removing unused variables, methods, classes, and attributes from the application and its library dependencies.
- Resource shrinking
Resource shrinking is mainly responsible for removing unused resource files from the application and the library dependencies.
Optimization refers to optimizing the bytecode of the system. Unused instructions can negatively influence any application’s performance. Redundant instructions in a small segment of the generated code are eliminated through different peephole techniques of optimization.
Obfuscation is the process of making the code unintelligible to be read easily. A third party who has gained unauthorized access won’t be able to make sense of the code generated.
Pre-verification refers to inserting pre-verified information into class files for certain Java versions. so that, it can take maximum advantage of faster class loading.
Benefits of Implementing ProGuard
ProGuard is an open-line command source tool highly recommended for Android application users. It decreases the readability of the code enhancing the security of its applications. The following are the major benefits:
- Compact Configuration
ProGuard consists of a template-based configuration in comparison to other Java obfuscators. This can be considered one of the greatest advantages of ProGuard.
- Protection Against Static Analysis
Hackers mainly use static analysis to gain access to the source code of any application. With static analysis, the application’s source code and control flow can be analyzed by hackers to figure out how the app works without running the app.
- Reverse Engineering is Tougher
By applying appropriate ProGuard rules, one can make reverse engineering difficult. ProGuard shrinks and obfuscates the code with different obscure names.
- Increases Efficiency of Applications
The codebase of applications is made more efficient with the help of ProGuard. It enhances the performance of the applications with its mesmerizing optimization features and removes all the unnecessary elements of the application.
- Lists Dead Code
ProGuard can identify any kind of dead code that the application is no longer using and removes them from the source code.
- Reduces the Size of the Applications
ProGuard can reduce application size ranging from 20% to 90%. It also discards unused codes and resources from your application and library dependencies.
Most developers utilize ProGuard mainly for its obfuscation capabilities but ProGuard’s benefits are not only restricted to the security aspect of it. ProGuard can reduce any app size to a great extent. It discards any type of unused codes and renames classes and their members to random characters.