CommunityDevOps ExchangePartners
10 minutes

Security Through Obscurity Pros And Cons — And Why It’s Nowhere Near Enough

Written by
Team Copado
Table of contents

Cyberattacks and data breaches are constantly in the news, and hackers’ methods grow more sophisticated daily. So, it’s no surprise that many organizations are looking for outside-the-box ideas for network security. This search leads some to the “security through obscurity” methodology. In this blog post, we’ll explain this phrase, discuss security through obscurity's pros and cons, and then explain why this approach is nowhere near enough.

What Is Security Through Obscurity?

Security through obscurity is a controversial principle that equates “secrecy” with “security.” Organizations relying on security through obscurity believe that hiding information and resources will prevent malicious actors from attacking. Although their applications and systems may have security vulnerabilities, they believe they can prevent cybercriminals from finding out about them and thus avert an attack.

For example, many people store their spare housekey under the doormat or inside a container camouflaged as a rock. This is a huge security vulnerability – anyone could use that spare key to break into the house – but these homeowners believe that the key is well-hidden enough that burglars won’t be able to find it. They rely on security through obscurity to prevent a break-in because it’s easier and less expensive than calling a locksmith each time they lock themselves out.

Organizations that use security through obscurity take the same gamble in exchange for cost savings and convenience. Rather than implementing firewalls, access controls, and other robust security measures, they simply obscure information about their systems and hope malicious actors never find their vulnerabilities.

Security Through Obscurity Pros and Cons

There aren’t many advantages to using security through obscurity because it’s essentially the absence of a security strategy. Let’s discuss security through obscurity's pros and cons to illustrate why that is.

Security Through Obscurity Pros

Obscurity itself is not a bad idea. For example, if you have an internal resource that’s only accessed by on-site employees, it’s best practice to create a non-obvious URL and only share it with authorized users. This reduces the likelihood of hackers finding and breaching that resource. However, obscurity isn’t enough; it should be layered with other defenses.

Many advocates for security through obscurity argue that it’s better than no security. That is technically true, but those shouldn’t be your only two options. Security is mandatory if your organization uses any data systems, applications, or web services to conduct business. And, as mentioned above, security through obscurity isn’t really security.

Security Through Obscurity Cons

In the security through obscurity methodology, you hide details about the design of your system or application. The idea is that hackers won’t be able to find vulnerabilities if they don’t know what OS you are using, the model of the hardware it’s running on, what language your application was programmed in, etc. However, this logic is flawed for a few reasons, including:

  • Organizations are still susceptible to insider attacks from current or former employees who were trusted with these secrets.
  • Employees may be encouraged to host external cheat sheets that make it easier to access obfuscated resources, both legitimately and maliciously.
  • Systems details could be leaked (even unintentionally) and made publicly available.
  • Knowledgeable hackers can reverse-engineer your software to find this information for themselves or exploit small breaches to discover internal architecture.
  • Malicious actors can still use social engineering tactics to gain access to obscured resources.

It’s impossible to keep every detail about your network, systems, and applications secret forever. If you rely on security through obscurity, you’re essentially risking your entire business in hopes that nobody will find and exploit your vulnerabilities. This goes against current best practices like Zero Trust, in which you assume a breach has already occurred and take continuous action to mitigate it. That’s why obscurity can never be a replacement for an actual security strategy.

What Is Defense in Depth?

Obscurity alone is not enough to protect your organization, but it can be layered with security policies and controls to create a more robust security strategy. The practice of applying a multi-layered approach to security is known as Defense in Depth.

Imagine a medieval castle. To breach the castle, attackers first need to get through an external wall with archers firing arrows from the parapets. Once inside that wall, they need to cross a deep moat filled with ice-cold water. If they make it that far, they still need to get through the castle's iron doors and stone walls. Even if the invaders can get through one or two of those security features, the next layer of defense may turn them back.

Defense in Depth works the same way. You layer unique and redundant security measures, including firewalls, multi-factor authentication, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), and frequent OS patches. If one of these measures fails, there’s another one standing directly behind it to continue pushing the attackers back. For example, even if a hacker finds a “hidden” resource, they won’t be able to access it because they can’t confirm their identity with MFA. And even if they do bypass MFA, their unusual activity will trigger UEBA to lock the account before they can jump to other systems.

Defense in Depth is the only scenario where obscurity can be used for effective security. Simply obfuscating your systems and applications isn’t enough to keep bad actors at bay. Protecting your hidden resources with several layers of security policies and mechanisms can create a comprehensive security strategy to defend your business from cyber threats.



Book a demo

About The Author

#1 DevOps Platform for Salesforce

We build unstoppable teams by equipping DevOps professionals with the platform, tools and training they need to make release days obsolete. Work smarter, not longer.

Enhancing Customer Service with CopadoGPT Technology
What is Efficient Low Code Deployment?
Copado Launches Test Copilot to Deliver AI-powered Rapid Test Creation
Cloud-Native Testing Automation: A Comprehensive Guide
A Guide to Effective Change Management in Salesforce for DevOps Teams
Building a Scalable Governance Framework for Sustainable Value
Copado Launches Copado Explorer to Simplify and Streamline Testing on Salesforce
Exploring Top Cloud Automation Testing Tools
Master Salesforce DevOps with Copado Robotic Testing
Exploratory Testing vs. Automated Testing: Finding the Right Balance
A Guide to Salesforce Source Control
A Guide to DevOps Branching Strategies
Family Time vs. Mobile App Release Days: Can Test Automation Help Us Have Both?
How to Resolve Salesforce Merge Conflicts: A Guide
Copado Expands Beta Access to CopadoGPT for All Customers, Revolutionizing SaaS DevOps with AI
Is Mobile Test Automation Unnecessarily Hard? A Guide to Simplify Mobile Test Automation
From Silos to Streamlined Development: Tarun’s Tale of DevOps Success
Simplified Scaling: 10 Ways to Grow Your Salesforce Development Practice
What is Salesforce Incident Management?
What Is Automated Salesforce Testing? Choosing the Right Automation Tool for Salesforce
Copado Appoints Seasoned Sales Executive Bob Grewal to Chief Revenue Officer
Business Benefits of DevOps: A Guide
Copado Brings Generative AI to Its DevOps Platform to Improve Software Development for Enterprise SaaS
Celebrating 10 Years of Copado: A Decade of DevOps Evolution and Growth
Copado Celebrates 10 Years of DevOps for Enterprise SaaS Solutions
5 Reasons Why Copado = Less Divorces for Developers
What is DevOps? Build a Successful DevOps Ecosystem with Copado’s Best Practices
Scaling App Development While Meeting Security Standards
5 Data Deploy Features You Don’t Want to Miss
Top 5 Reasons I Choose Copado for Salesforce Development
How to Elevate Customer Experiences with Automated Testing
Getting Started With Value Stream Maps
Copado and nCino Partner to Provide Proven DevOps Tools for Financial Institutions
Unlocking Success with Copado: Mission-Critical Tools for Developers
How Automated Testing Enables DevOps Efficiency
How to Keep Salesforce Sandboxes in Sync
How to Switch from Manual to Automated Testing with Robotic Testing
Best Practices to Prevent Merge Conflicts with Copado 1 Platform
Software Bugs: The Three Causes of Programming Errors
How Does Copado Solve Release Readiness Roadblocks?
Why I Choose Copado Robotic Testing for my Test Automation
How to schedule a Function and Job Template in DevOps: A Step-by-Step Guide
Delivering Quality nCino Experiences with Automated Deployments and Testing
Best Practices Matter for Accelerated Salesforce Release Management
Maximize Your Code Quality, Security and performance with Copado Salesforce Code Analyzer
Upgrade Your Test Automation Game: The Benefits of Switching from Selenium to a More Advanced Platform
Three Takeaways From Copa Community Day
Cloud Native Applications: 5 Characteristics to Look for in the Right Tools
Using Salesforce nCino Architecture for Best Testing Results
How To Develop A Salesforce Testing Strategy For Your Enterprise
What Is Multi Cloud: Key Use Cases and Benefits for Enterprise Settings
5 Steps to Building a Salesforce Center of Excellence for Government Agencies
Salesforce UI testing: Benefits to Staying on Top of Updates
Benefits of UI Test Automation and Why You Should Care
Types of Salesforce Testing and When To Use Them
Copado + DataColada: Enabling CI/CD for Developers Across APAC
What is Salesforce API Testing and It Why Should Be Automated
Machine Learning Models: Adapting Data Patterns With Copado For AI Test Automation
Automated Testing Benefits: The Case For As Little Manual Testing As Possible
Beyond Selenium: Low Code Testing To Maximize Speed and Quality
UI Testing Best Practices: From Implementation to Automation
How Agile Test Automation Helps You Develop Better and Faster
Salesforce Test Cases: Knowing When to Test
DevOps Quality Assurance: Major Pitfalls and Challenges
11 Characteristics of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) That Set Them Apart
7 Key Compliance Regulations Relating to Data Storage
7 Ways Digital Transformation Consulting Revolutionizes Your Business
6 Top Cloud Security Trends
API Management Best Practices
Applying a Zero Trust Infrastructure in Kubernetes
Building a Data Pipeline Architecture Based on Best Practices Brings the Biggest Rewards
CI/CD Methodology vs. CI/CD Mentality: How to Meet Your Workflow Goals
DevOps to DevSecOps: How to Build Security into the Development Lifecycle
DevSecOps vs Agile: It’s Not Either/Or
How to Create a Digital Transformation Roadmap to Success
Infrastructure As Code: Overcome the Barriers to Effective Network Automation
Leveraging Compliance Automation Tools to Mitigate Risk
Moving Forward with These CI/CD Best Practices
Top 3 Data Compliance Challenges of Tomorrow and the Solutions You Need Today
Top 6 Cloud Security Management Policies and Procedures to Protect Your Business
What are the Benefits of Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) for My Organization?
You Can’t Measure What You Can’t See: Getting to know the 4 Metrics of Software Delivery Performance
How the Public Sector Can Continue to Accelerate Modernization
Building an Automated Test Framework to Streamline Deployments