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decrypt(3pm) User Contributed Perl Documentation decrypt(3pm)


Filter::decrypt - template for a decrypt source filter


    use Filter::decrypt ;


This is a sample decrypting source filter.

Although this is a fully functional source filter and it does implement a very simple decrypt algorithm, it is not intended to be used as it is supplied. Consider it to be a template which you can combine with a proper decryption algorithm to develop your own decryption filter.


It is important to note that a decryption filter can never provide complete security against attack. At some point the parser within Perl needs to be able to scan the original decrypted source. That means that at some stage fragments of the source will exist in a memory buffer.

Also, with the introduction of the Perl Compiler backend modules, and the B::Deparse module in particular, using a Source Filter to hide source code is becoming an increasingly futile exercise.

The best you can hope to achieve by decrypting your Perl source using a source filter is to make it unavailable to the casual user.

Given that proviso, there are a number of things you can do to make life more difficult for the prospective cracker.

Strip the Perl binary to remove all symbols.
Build the decrypt extension using static linking. If the extension is provided as a dynamic module, there is nothing to stop someone from linking it at run time with a modified Perl binary.
Do not build Perl with "-DDEBUGGING". If you do then your source can be retrieved with the "-DP" command line option.

The sample filter contains logic to detect the "DEBUGGING" option.

Do not build Perl with C debugging support enabled.
Do not implement the decryption filter as a sub-process (like the cpp source filter). It is possible to peek into the pipe that connects to the sub-process.
Check that the Perl Compiler isn't being used.

There is code in the BOOT: section of decrypt.xs that shows how to detect the presence of the Compiler. Make sure you include it in your module.

Assuming you haven't taken any steps to spot when the compiler is in use and you have an encrypted Perl script called "", you can get access the source code inside it using the perl Compiler backend, like this

    perl -MO=Deparse

Note that even if you have included the BOOT: test, it is still possible to use the Deparse module to get the source code for individual subroutines.

Do not use the decrypt filter as-is. The algorithm used in this filter has been purposefully left simple.

If you feel that the source filtering mechanism is not secure enough you could try using the unexec/undump method. See the Perl FAQ for further details.


See /usr/share/doc/libfilter-perl/examples/decrypt/ for examples of encryption and decryption scripts using this filter.


Paul Marquess


19th December 1995

2022-10-20 perl v5.36.0