Xenocode Protects .NET IP

Xenocode releases Postbuild 2008 for .NET, a code-obfuscation and deployment tool that protects intellectual property.

Are you looking to keep rogue developers from reverse engineering -- or worse, copying -- your .NET-based desktop apps? A new tool lets software developers protect their intellectual property (IP) from various abuses.

Xenocode's Postbuild 2008 for .NET is the latest release of the Seattle-based virtualization and dev tools maker's code-obfuscation and deployment solution for developers writing to the Windows platform. The tool lets developers deploy .NET apps in a single executable, which can then run on any Windows desktop, regardless of whether it's based on the .NET Framework. At the same time, Postbuild employs its well-known obfuscation techniques to thwart decompilers and protect IP.

Obfuscated code (sometimes called "shrouded" code) is source code that has deliberately been made difficult to read to stop reverse engineering. Over the past few years, the company has expanded the scope of the product with application virtualization capabilities.

Kenji Obata, CEO and founder of Xenocode, says the company has observed two key problems developers encounter when deploying .NET-based applications. One is the ease of reverse engineering .NET-based code. That led the company to build the obfuscation solution. But a more substantial issue was the need to install a .NET runtime on end users' machines before the developer could run the application. "It's a huge barrier to deploying .NET-based applications," Obata says. "And as the .NET platform has evolved, new issues have arisen, particularly around .NET Framework versioning. In addition, you have this very large installed base out there that doesn't even have the .NET runtime on their machines. All of which complicates deployment, test and support."

Application Isolation
Virtualization in the app layer is essentially about isolating the applications from the hardware and the OS, explains Neil Macehiter, research director at IT market research firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton Ltd. The process encapsulates applications as independent, moveable objects that can be relocated without disturbing other systems.

Postbuild 2008 for .NET employs a range of obfuscation techniques and integrates directly with Xenocode's maturing app virtualization engine. It's designed to allow developers to deploy their apps in pre-configured virtual executables that "run instantly on any Windows desktop via intranets, the Internet, USB keys or existing desktop management infrastructure," the company says. This edition also comes with support for Visual Studio 2008, .NET 3.0 and 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation and Language Integrated Query (LINQ).

Along with the ability to convert .NET binaries into native executables, Postbuild's toolkit includes assembly-linking capabilities plus filesystem, registry and service virtualization features.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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