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HeadquartersHersden, Kent, United Kingdom
ProductsPHP Encoder
ionCube Loader
Package Foundry
ionCube 24
ServicesPHP programming

ionCube Ltd. is a software company based in Hersden, Kent in the United Kingdom.

ionCube was founded in 2002 and introduced tools to prevent the source code of software written using the PHP programming language from being viewed, changed, and run on unlicensed computers. The encoding technology grew out of earlier work on the PHP Accelerator project, and at its first launch, it included an online encoding service where PHP scripts could be uploaded and an encoded version downloaded in return, as well as a command line tool for Linux soon after. The tools use the technique of compiling to bytecode prior to encoding so that source code is eliminated and runtime overheads are reduced. A PHP extension called the ionCube Loader handles the reading and execution of encoded files at run time. Unlike CPU's such as 8086, where compiled code from many years ago continues to run on its derivatives today, the virtual machine instruction set of PHP has changed over time. The ionCube Loader uses the technique of on-the-fly patching of compiled code in memory to achieve back compatibility of running older files on newer versions of PHP.[1][2]

The encoding products were subsequently ported to FreeBSD, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, and the range of products expanded to offer additional features such as product licensing and encryption of non-PHP files. In July 2004, a Windows GUI was introduced, no longer requiring use of the command line for Windows users.

In 2004, ionCube introduced their Package Foundry product, IPF, for Linux and Windows. IPF allows web applications to be packaged as a Windows executable installer that can automatically deploy a web application to a remote server, as well as perform various installation and configuration tasks and launching the browser on the main page of the installed application.[3]

ionCube also produces a product called the Bundler. Unrelated to PHP, the Bundler is a Windows and Linux tool to produce self-extracting archives for Windows.

In December 2010, ionCube released version 7.0 of their Encoder, including support for the PHP 5.3 language.[4]

In May 2013, ionCube released version 8.0 with support for encoding the PHP 5.4 language. This was followed by an 8.1 release in October 2013 with changes including an updated GUI, enhanced security, and a feature to assist in selecting optimal security settings. February 2014 saw the release of Encoder 8.2 with some new features, and most notably a GUI for OS X users. As of April 18, 2014, Encoder 8.3 was released with support for encoding PHP 5.5 language features.[5]

In May 2015, ionCube released version 9 with support for PHP 5.6 language syntax and new security features such as decrypting compiled code using algorithmically generated runtime generated keys rather than static keys,[6] followed by version 10 with support for PHP 7.1 in August 2017.

Version 11 was subsequently released to support PHP 7.4 in October 2021 and version 12 for PHP 8.1 in August 2022.[7]


In Q1 2015, ionCube introduced a service called ionCube24, offering real-time malware protection for PHP websites.[8] ionCube24 uses the ionCube Loader to monitor and block any unexpected PHP code, as might be introduced by a software vulnerability exploit, before it executes. Alongside the security aspect of ionCube24, it also provides real-time PHP and Javascript error reporting, along with server monitoring from various regions, including Asia, North America and Europe.


ionCube was invited to talk about their EPIK community project and Minecraft with NetBeans JavaOne in San Francisco October 2014. In December 2014, ionCube presented a talk at the 2014 Google Developers Group DevFest conference in Istanbul, Turkey, about how websites can be hacked and how this can be prevented, featuring a live proof of concept demonstration with an emergency light and car alarm triggered when a website intrusion was detected.[9]

Community Initiatives[edit]


In February 2012, ionCube launched an initiative called EPIK, aimed at encouraging programming in Kids for people aged 16 to 24 through a programming competition, with winners sharing part of a £1000 prize fund and having the opportunity of an IT apprenticeship.[10]

In February 2013, the ionCube EPIK initiative was expanded and ran a three-day coding event for young developers with age ranges from under 10 to their early 20s. Most participants had no prior experience of coding or web technologies, and with support of industry mentors from ionCube and elsewhere, teams at three regional sites in Kent conceived and developed a range of website projects over two days. Teams came together for a third day of coding at the Turner Contemporary gallery before making final presentations of their projects, mostly with live websites. Judges from ionCube and Sony awarded various prizes, including Raspberry Pi and related hardware, a future presentation to the British Computer Society, and further one-to-one industry mentoring. Subsequent events have included a Minecraft 3D printing day in May 2013, a B9Creator 3D printer build day, and events in conjunction with Mozilla.

Involvement with Young Rewired State[edit]

On August 6–10, 2012, ionCube hosted a week-long hackathon in Kent, South East England, as part of the Young Rewired State 2012 Festival of Code event to encouraging self-motivated young programmers. Attendees were aged from 9 to 18, and with the guidance of mentors and the remit to use some Open data, devised and produced a website called[citation needed].

Mozilla MozFest 2016[edit]

In 2015 and 2016, ionCube helped organise the Youth Zone at Mozilla MozFest, interviewing some of the attendees and young makers at the 2016 event.[11][12]


  1. ^ "ionCube FAQ - Will my files work on newer versions of PHP". ionCube Ltd. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  2. ^ "ionCube FAQ - How is back compatibility possible, aren't your files compiled code". ionCube Ltd. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ "ionCube website on the wayback machine in 2004". Archived from the original on 2004-11-30.
  4. ^ "ionCube website on the wayback machine in 2010". Archived from the original on 2010-12-23.
  5. ^ "ionCube website on the wayback machine in 2013". Archived from the original on 2013-05-28.
  6. ^ "ionCube Encoder release notes". ionCube Ltd. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  7. ^ "ionCube News".
  8. ^ "ionCube24 Service". ionCube Ltd. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Devfest Turkey 2014 talk". YouTube. Retrieved 25 Oct 2015.
  10. ^ "EPIKwon the wayback machine in 2012". Archived from the original on 2012-06-03.
  11. ^ "ionCube at MozFest 2016". YouTube. Retrieved 5 Nov 2016.
  12. ^ "Interview with Femi". YouTube. Retrieved 5 Nov 2016.

External links[edit]