I know a little about Zend Optimizer, but never considered it for source protection as I know in the end the bytecode will need to be decoded for the interpreter, and was sure people easily decode optimized files using some software.
Apache checks the request and notices that it is using some PHP files that are encoded with Zend Guard, to which the request is passed. (Note that since the files are encoded, PHP will not be able to read them).
Joomla does not communicate directly with any encoded PHP code. All the PHP code that Joomla deals with is decoded (by the PHP decoder) prior to any interaction, which means compatibility is a non-issue.
Morse code is a great way to explain what encoding is about. When it was developed, it was one of the first times in history that a message could be encoded, sent, and then decoded and understood by the receiver.
Yesterday I received a couple of files encoded with an unknown encoder for me, it didnt require any php modification or extension install, so I tough that it would be easy to break it, because at some point the code must be evaluated, so after I opened the zip file, I noticed a folder called scopbin, that contained only 1 php file named 911006.php, the two encoded files were including this file so I assumed that this is were the decryption logic had to be.
ionCube Loader is a PHP module needed for your server to read / decode any encoded and secured PHP scripts used by some apps. PHP can use the Loader with one line added to a PHP configuration file (php.ini). Well, as not all apps are using this technology so basically in common Vestacp install, ionCube loader is not necessary especially if you just want to host WordPress. But however some apps like ClientExect or any other PHP apps are using ionCube PHP encoder technology to protect PHP source code from easy observation, theft and change by compiling to bytecode.
Zend Optimizer is the run-time needed to be installed on the web server in order to enable it to run PHP scripts encoded by Zend Guard or the legacy Zend Encoder. The run-time is compatible with apache and IIS web servers and it can run on many platforms such as Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and the Linux family. Installing Zend Optimizer also gives you the advantage of running your regular un-encoded PHP scripts at a faster speed. The official Zend website published many results for experiments that proved that their Optimizer can execute PHP file 2 to 10 times faster than without the extension. Zend Optimizer installs itself into PHP.ini as a php extension and is automatically installed with many products such as Cpanel's easyapache, Helm, Plesk, Zend Core and more. Zend Optimizer usually requires root access for Linux servers or Windows user account with administrative privileges in order to be installed using the linux or windows installers but an experienced user can manually install it on a shared webhosting account if the webhosting company allows the use of user's specified custom php.ini file or via .htaccess file. The software supports both PHP version 4.x and 5.x. The configuration can be set directly in the php.ini file and allows you to control the different optimization settings. 2b1af7f3a8