How to protect your source code from a contract programmer?

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Are you concerned about the safety of your source code when you hire a contract programmer? How can you ensure your source code is secure from being stolen or misused? What measures should you take to protect your source code from a contract programmer?

Protecting one’s source code is a major concern for many companies, particularly those in the software development industry. According to the 2018 DevOps and Security Survey, the majority of the companies surveyed reported that they were “worried about the security of their source code”. This concern is further highlighted in the 2020 study “Lessons Learned While Working with External Developer Teams”, which found that “data security was the number one constraint among companies when engaging an external software developer”. As such, it is important for companies to take measures to protect their source code when hiring outside programmers.

In this article, you will learn the best practices for protecting your source code when working with a contract programmer. We will cover the best strategies for ensuring the security of your code, as well as exploring what measures you should take to ensure your source code remains safely protected. Additionally, we will discuss the options available to help companies protect their intellectual property from theft or copyright infringement. By the end of the article, you will have a clear understanding of the steps you can take to safeguard your source code during and after the completion of the contract.

We’ll also look at the steps that contract developers can take to ensure their own code is protected when working with external employers. These will include understanding and complying with the applicable licensing laws and regulations, creating secure communication protocols, and using authentication systems to protect intellectual property. With this information in hand, contract developers will be able to better secure their own code, while employers will also be able to properly safeguard their own source code.

How to protect your source code from a contract programmer?

Definitions for Protecting Your Source Code from Contract Programmers

Contract programmer is a professional who creates digital products or services for others on a contractual basis. This might include coding, website development, software engineering, and more. To protect your source code, it’s important to understand the basics of source code and contracts.
Source Code refers to a set of instructions and algorithms that make up a software program. It is written by a programmer using a specific programming language and can be used to create a digital product or service.
Contract is an agreement between two or more parties that states specific terms and responsibilities. Contracts should outline specific details on the job, including ownership of the source code, security measures, non-disclosure agreements, and terms of payment.
Non-Disclosure Agreements are legal documents that prevent a person from disclosing confidential information, such as source code. These agreements ensure that the programmer does not have the ability to share the code with anyone else.
Security is the practice of keeping your source code safe and secure from unauthorized access. This might include using secure storage systems, encryption, password protection, and access controls.

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Understanding the Dangers of Contract Programming

Understanding the Dangers of Contract Programming

The Risk of Source Code Leaks

When working with contract programmers, it is important to understand the risks involved in releasing source code to them for development and/or debugging purposes. Of primary concern is that of protecting the source code, as it contains the trade secrets of the business that created it. As such, the risk of a leak should always be considered whenever dealing with contract programmers.
The threat of source code leakage can come in two forms. The first is that of a malicious contractor, who has deliberately gone out of his/her way to steal the source code from the company. The second is that of an accidental leak, which can occur even for the most conscientious of developers. Accidents can happen, and it is important to be aware of the risks posed before allowing a contactor to access the code.

Mitigating Risk

Fortunately, there are steps that the business can take to minimize the chances of its source code being obtained illicitly, or accidentally leaked. These steps should be employed whenever a contractor is hired.

  • Identify the details of the developer’s work/access required for them to carry out their duties, and ensure that they are limited only to the minimal requirements.
  • Encourage the use of monolithic source control systems rather than distributed ones for all code management.
  • Ensure that the code is regularly backed up and tested, to ensure future development is not hindered by any lost sections.
  • Perform background checks on contractors, as these will give an indication of the level of trustworthiness and responsibility of the individual.
  • Ensure that all contracts involving the transfer of source code include a confidentiality clause, which explicitly states the legal implications of revealing any code.


Working with contract programmers can be extremely beneficial to businesses, however, it is important to remember the potential risks, as these must be mitigated in order to protect the company’s source code. By following the above steps, businesses can greatly reduce the risk of an individual gaining access to the code. While this does not completely eliminate the risk of a malicious or accidental leak, it does provide an extra layer of security that will help to minimize any potential losses.

Establishing Security Protocols to Protect Source Code

Secure Access to Source Code

When hiring contract developers, the first step is to ensure that the programmer does not have access to the source code until they are fully vetted and trustworthy. Setting up a secure system for sharing source code with contract workers is essential for protecting source code from any potential malicious actors. Strong passwords, two-factor authentication, limiting access to a single computer or device, and auditing logins regularly are some of the precautionary measures that can be taken to protect your code.

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Conducted Proper Vetting

Once the proper security measures are in place, the next step is to properly vet the potential contractor. The hiring process should include a thorough background check and assessment of their skillset to make sure the programmer has the capacity to handle the task. It’s also recommended to check references and review a portfolio of potential past work. Checking social media accounts and other public information can be beneficial in confirming that the contractor is a legitimate source who can follow through with the job.
Verifying a contractor’s identity is similarly important to protecting source code. If possible, employers should video conference with the contractor to ensure they are who they say they are. Documentation should also be kept to strengthen the validity of the employment arrangement.
Finally, employers should be sure to properly train and educate the contractor about the importance of protecting source code. Outlining the expectations associated with the job and setting clear expectations for confidential data will help ensure that the proper protocols are followed and that sensitive information is not shared or abused in any way.
In addition to maintaining these measures, employers should also be sure to use strong anti-virus software and maintain regular backups of their source code. This will provide an additional layer of security, allowing employers to restore the code in the event of any malicious activity or security breaches.

Developing a Relationship of Trust with Contractors

Building a Relationship of Trust with Contractors

Securing top quality contract programming talent is essential for businesses looking to develop more refined products or services. However, working with outside personnel can be a tricky endeavor, with a business’ intellectual property and source code at serious risk of being revealed or misused unless certain guidelines are implemented. Consequently, to ensure the most successful relationships between contract personnel and the company in charge, it is important to build a strong foundation of trust between all parties.

Comprehensive Disclosure

Before beginning any programming work, the company management should provide the contractor with comprehensive disclosure and full understanding of what is expected. The source code should be revealed in its entirety, revealing its true potential but also highlighting any limitations and making the conditions of employment exceedingly clear. An inexperienced contractor that is unready to handle the more difficult aspects of the code will likely make mistakes that will need to be corrected in the future, so a comprehensive disclosure will help to minimize missteps and ensure the most successful and accurate completion of the job.
A non-disclosure agreement should also be included, stating that the contractor will not use the source code for any other purposes outside of the established contractual agreement. The extent of this agreement should be agreed upon by both parties and should include any information that might be of use to a potential competitor.

Ongoing Communication

To ensure that the contract programming job is progressing as planned, the company should institute regular contact with the contractor. This should include a complete agenda of tasks and should also hold the contractor to his or her commitment of timely task completion. It is also advisable to monitor the contractor’s work on a recurring basis, giving the programmer extensive feedback when needed. Additionally, ongoing in-person meetings should be used to discuss both short- and long -term goals as well as evaluate the overall success of the project.

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By establishing a foundation of trust between the contractor and the company, a business can ensure that its source code is kept hidden and safe. Employers should disclose as much of the source code and conditions of the job as needed, draw up a comprehensive nondisclosure agreement, and institute regular communication with the contractor. With these simple steps, an effective relationship between all parties can be achieved and maintained, thereby assuring the safety of the source code and the success of the project.


Thought-provoking question on the topic: Have you ever worked with a contract programmer and wondered how best to protect your source code?
Working with contract programmers can be a great way to get the job done without the worry of having to manage a full-time employee. But you don’t want to hand over the keys to your source code without the right protections in place. So how do you ensure that your source code is safe and secure when working with a contract programmer?
At our blog, we’ve compiled the essential tools and tips to help you protect your source code. From encryption to contract stipulations, we’ll be walking you through the best practices to ensure the safety of your source code. So be sure to follow our blog and stay tuned for the new releases.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What are the best ways to protect my source code?
A: Setting up contract stipulations, setting up appropriate permissions, and using encryption are some of the best ways to protect your source code. Encryption also ensures that the code is unreadable should it leak.
Q: What are the risks of not protecting source code?
A: Without the protection of source code, the code can be leaked, stolen, or used to maliciously compete against you. The lack of security puts you at risk of a variety of cyberattacks and financial losses.
Q: How do I make sure my source code is secure?
A: Make sure to assess your security needs and use the necessary tools to ensure that your source code can stay secure. Make sure to encrypt the source code and to place contract stipulations to further protect the code.
Q: How do I know if the contract programmer is trustworthy?
A: It is important to do your research before working with an individual or a company. Check the reviews, ask for referrals, and speak to their past clients to make sure that they can be trusted.
Q: Do I need to back up my source code?
A: Yes, it is important to back up your source code in order to protect your information in the event of an unexpected attack. Make sure to store the backups in a safe and secure place.

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