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What is phpSHIELD?
phpSHIELD is a PHP encoding tool brand owned by Source Guardian which uses bytecode to encrypt PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) scripts, thereby making them less vulnerable to security breaches. It is designed for use by experienced PHP script publishers, developers, and authors.
In 2003 phpSHIELD was released as a lightweight PHP encoder. In 2006 phpSHIELD became part of Invoca Ltd. At the time Invoca Ltd. offered a flagship PHP encoding product called SourceGuardian PHP Encoder. After a few years phpSHIELD and SourceGuardian PHP Encoder were combined into a single product.
The phpSHIELD brand is still maintained for name-recognition marketing purposes but practically speaking phpSHIELD and SourceGuardian PHP Encoder are now the same product. If you purchase phpSHIELD today you are actually purchasing SourceGuardian PHP Encoder.
What is phpSHIELD used for?
Encryption is defined as the act of scrambling messages and information to the point of being nonsensical and unreadable to an outside viewer. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why encryption has become a widespread method for keeping website scripts illegible to hackers and other intruders.
Unfortunately, though, there are also many ways for hackers to reverse engineer some of the most popular script encryption systems, restoring the encrypted scripts back to their original (and readable) states.
To overcome this issue in script protection, phpSHIELD has stepped beyond standard encryption by utilizing bytecode. Bytecode is a dense, concise form of coding which is made up entirely of numbers and thus is indecipherable by humans.
Only a software interpreter can correctly comprehend the meaning embedded within a bytecode program, and even then it can only do so if it has explicit permission and instructions from an authorized administrator. In short, while not completely undecipherable, bytecode encryption systems are stronger and more reliable than other types of encryption systems.
What does phpSHIELD cost?
A free 14 day trial of any version of phpSHIELD can be downloaded from the phpSHIELD website free of charge. To continue using the software after the 14 day trial you will need to purchase a license. As of May 2015 the cost of a single phpSHIELD license is $199 for a single version of the software. Different versions are available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and IBM PowerLinux. Various combinations of the Linux, Windows, and Mac OS versions are available at a discount if purchasing more than one version at once.
What are some alternatives to phpSHIELD?
phpSHIELD is synonymous with SourceGuardian PHP Encoder and is one of the three major PHP encoding software solutions. The other two industry mainstays are ionCube and Zend.
ionCube PHP Encoder is comparably priced to phpSHIELD and provides similar protections. ionCube is available in three flavors: Basic, Pro, and Cerberus and begins at $199 as of May 2015.
Zend Guard is the most widely accepted PHP encoding product on the market to protect your application from unlicensed use and reverse engineering. Zend Guard is sold as Software as a Service (SaaS) at a rate of $600 for a one year license as of May 2015. It’s worth pointing out that even at that high price Zend Guard is the most popular PHP encoding product available.
How do I install phpSHIELD?
You must have root access to your server in order to install phpSHIELD. What this means is that you cannot use phpSHIELD with a shared hosting account. In order to use phpSHIELD you’ll need a dedicated server, a virtual private server (VPS), or to own your own server. If you do want to use phpSHIELD with a VPS or dedicated server account we would recommend verifying support for the software with your hosting provider prior to purchasing the software.
Since phpSHIELD is available in versions compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac, and thanks to the help of installable loaders, you can use it with the operating system of your choice.
To incorporate phpSHIELD into your hosting plan in order to better protect your website’s scripts, contact your hosting provider’s support team for help with the installation of appropriate loaders and the proper implementation of the encryption system.
phpShield Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between phpSHIELD and SourceGuardian PHP Encoder?
Several years ago phpSHIELD was a lightweight, low-cost alternative to SourceGuardian PHP Encoder, and offered a more limited feature set.
However, more recently SourceGuardian rolled both products into one and basically did away with the legacy phpSHIELD product.
Today SourceGuardian PHP Encoder is sold under both brands: SourceGuardian and phpSHIELD.
Are files encrypted with phpSHIELD completely undecipherable?
There’s no such thing as an un-hackable app. If there’s someone smart enough to encode it, there’s someone else smart enough to figure out how to decypher it.
For example, there are websites that openly offer to decrypt code encrypted by phpSHIELD/SourceGuardian, Zend, or IonCube for a fee. This means that encrypted PHP can be deciphered, but that’s ok.
The goal with security measures is to throw up enough roadblocks that someone trying to hack your site moves on to an easier target.
Encryption of code with phpSHIELD is a useful security measure, but it needs to be just one tool of several you’re using to protect a sensitive or valuable application.
If files encrypted with phpSHIELD can be deciphered why bother with encryption?
This is a question some developers find disconcerting enough that they don’t bother with encryption and instead focus on other strategies such as fair pricing and licensing strategies, and strategies to keep code as far out of view as possible.
Those who argue against encryption would say that the only protection against piracy and hacking is to make the effort more trouble than it’s worth.
On the other hand, those who favor encryption would argue that it needs to be used in concert with other security measures to make it difficult for a hacker to get their hands on clean deciphered code.
The basic argument from the encryption camp is that encryption helps move your application out of the “low hanging fruit” group that tends to be the focus of hackers and software pirates.
The effort to hack your app needs to be greater than the potential value to a hacker or software pirate.