How To Secure Source Code and Protect It From Theft
Read a detailed guide on how to secure and protect your source code from getting stolen.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Source code is one of the most valuable assets for any company. So if it gets stolen or leaked, this can result in colossal damages to your business. Source code theft can cause financial and reputational losses in the long term perspective. Even the giants in the industry are at risk, as the source code of Windows 2000 was stolen from Microsoft in 2004, and a recent data breach cost Capital One around $300 million. That's why securing your source code and protecting it from theft should be one of your top priorities.
Why Is Securing Source Code Important?
Recently, attempts to compromise services, software, apps, and devices have risen as the rewards for hackers can be quite profitable. Source code includes a lot of valuable information since it plays a crucial role in creating and building software, application, extensions, web services, and so much more. Unfortunately, source code security doesn't get enough attention in many cases.
By stealing your source code, hackers can get ahold of important and sensitive information such as technical specifications, passwords, OAuth tokens, encryption keys, users' personal data, and so on. Without proper security, they can easily copy, modify, or distribute this data. Besides that, hackers can use information from the source code to exploit vulnerabilities and cause data breaches. You could lose a lead in the development of innovational products to your opponents if stolen source code gets sold to competitors.
How to Secure Source Code
There are several ways to secure and protect your source code from theft. Creating a dedicated policy, encryption, and securing endpoint devices are just some of the precautions you should implement. Also, it is best to use a layered approach instead of point protection when using technologies to mitigate source code theft.
Implement Source Code Security Policy
The policy should include rules and requirements to protect source code during the development lifecycle. It should cover the source code development process and all employees involved in the development.
Every regulation you want to implement has to be clearly outlined in the policy. This includes encryption and security protocols, application shielding and hardening process, use of repositories, and access controls. You should also add documentation, training, and recommendations on best secure coding practices.
Manage Access Control
Defining who has access to the source code is fundamental in securing it from theft. Usually, there is no need to give a developer access to the whole code. Global access to source code brings potential security risks, so always avoid giving it unless absolutely necessary. You should use the "least privilege model" rule when managing source code access control.
In addition, you can define and isolate source code areas when giving access and use the Zero Trust model when possible. Using multifactor authentication will also prevent access to course codes from unauthorized users. Implement two-factor authentication to ensure that only users with appropriate privileges can obtain company data and source code.
Secure Your Endpoint Devices
Securing your entry point is a crucial step in protecting source code from theft. Endpoint devices such as laptops and desktops are prone to malware attacks and other malicious activities. You should use Data Loss Prevention tools should be used to prevent source code leaks and exfiltration. In addition, protecting your devices with anti-malware, VPN, and antivirus solutions such as Avast, Clario, and Norton brings an additional level of security.
While endpoint security is important, you should also remember to secure all other devices. Any phone or tablet connected to the same network as the entry-point device can bring potential risks to the source code security. If someone accesses these devices, they can get ahold of passwords and other sensitive information to further attack your source code. Use special code to check if your phone is hacked, regularly check it for malware and install the latest updates to keep your device safe.
Avoid Insecure Source Code Usage
It is easy to miss some security flaws during the development process. Analysis and testing tools are a great way to check source code security. Static Application Security Testing software can scan your code for security flaws, vulnerabilities, violations of coding standards, and other development issues. The tool works in real-time, providing updated information on an early stage of the software development life cycle.
You should also use Dynamic Application Security Testing to find vulnerabilities and flaws outside the code. The tool can find issues with third-party interfaces and prevent SQL injection, cross-site scripting, insecure server configuration, and other types of attacks.
Protect Source Code With Patents and Copyright
Copyright laws and patents can't prevent course code theft, but they can confirm the ownership of the code. Source code can include new concepts and technological inventions, so it should be protected as intellectual property. That is why securing the idea, and written code with patents and copyright is crucial to state your ownership in case of source code theft or legal dispute.
Securing source code and protecting it from theft is crucial for every business. Applying multiple security layers to your code hardens and bulletproofs your development against attacks. It can take one data breach to bring colossal financial and reputational damages to your business. So creating protection policies, managing access, and securing your endpoint devices are just some of the approaches you should take to protect your source code.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.