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App Security Insights

Source Code Protection: What Is It and Why You Need It

Feb 28, 2017 1:59:15 PM / by Sung Cho

Source code protection

In today’s age of malware and increasingly persistent hackers, software developers are often faced with more challenges than ever before. The hard work you’ve put into developing your mobile app has perhaps never been under attack more heavily than it is now, especially when the widespread accessibility of sensitive data is taken into account.

That’s why protecting your source code against malicious users should be among your top priorities if it isn’t already. Here’s why source code protection is such a vital component of your application's security and some suggestions on how you can keep hackers, and others who intend to tamper with your code, at bay.

Introducing Source Code Protection

Source code, as you know, is the initial layer of coding that programmers can reach, which can be modified by a program itself. This high-level coding is later converted into object code or machine code, where it serves its ultimate functionality. However, it is by its very definition the beginning of everything that your program is and will be once it reaches users.

Yet, despite the critical role it plays in the programming of your app, many companies have neglected to beef up the measures they have in place to protect their programs. In recent years, issues with lapsed software patents have left many codes vulnerable to attack, and even many of those businesses that do claim some level of protection often rely on outdated methods that no longer offer much security at all.

How to Safeguard Your Code

Don’t worry about your app’s programming just yet though. Thankfully, many easy-to-implement measures provide the opportunity to significantly reduce the vulnerability level of your source code. Let’s review just a few basic ones that you can consider.

  • Restrict access: Perhaps one of the most straightforward ways in which you can avoid your source code getting out into the world is simply to restrict which members of your team have access to it. There’s little reason that anyone other than hands-on, high-level personnel should be working with your source code, but even for those that do, institute two-factor authentication to ensure that no suspicious characters find their way into your source code.
  • Copyright and patents: As we mentioned, lapsed copyrights are among the biggest reasons why many companies aren’t protecting their source code like they should. Don’t make the same mistake. Be sure that all your software and coding is protected by copyright law and necessary patents. After all, it is essentially tantamount to trade secrets, and as such, this proprietary information needs to be treated like the intellectual property that it is.
  • Encryption and monitoring: Your source code is one of your most prized commodities on the programming side of things. So ensure that it includes the ability to encrypt the relevant data both in transit and at rest, as this will go a long way toward keeping it away from prying eyes. Moreover, monitor your data at all times to be alerted when any kind of suspicious activity comes to light. Then you’ll be ready to act swiftly to track, limit or reverse the damage or, better yet, prevent it before any real harm is done.
  • Redundancy: Although many effective ways to protect your source code are on the table, this is one case in which the more methods you have in place, the better off you’ll be in the long run. In many cases, businesses opt to limit redundancy, since it amounts to an excess expense of resources. For your source code, you cannot have enough protection in the picture. So pump it up as much as you can with multiple suggestions from this list and elsewhere.

Protect What’s Yours

Although source code protection may not completely keep your system secure from those who may threaten your programming, it’s certainly one of the best ways to create a baseline of safety and security for both your app and its users. Much as your source code serves as the basis for all other functionality in your application, likewise should the case be regarding the role source code protection plays in the infrastructure you build to guard against hackers.

Don’t leave your precious code vulnerable for another moment. Act today to pump up your defenses by locking down your source code.

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Topics: Mobile App Hacking, Source Code

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

VP, Growth & Strategy