How to Protect your Software on the Web
The internet is a great source of information, a limitless library of knowledge that can help us learn about anything and everything. However, the internet could be considered a dark and scary place by some as it can help some steal, cheat, lie, and engage in various harmful activities. All said and done, internet is just a reflection of the world – there are both good and bad in it.
Majority of us try to stay out of trouble online and not engage in harmful practices for the most part. But for software developers, who have put their content out there for others to see, download, and use, have to consider the type of people they might be attracting with their website and information. The major concerns are hackers, competitors, pirates, and rogue licensees who break their deal to share code and other license information with others.
With that being said, let’s look at a few things that you should be considering to make sure that your software and user base are safe:
Try using software escrows
To start with, you shouldn’t be releasing your source code to each and every one who pays for your license as there is no proper way to vet them to know possible liabilities. How will you know if that particular customer isn’t your competitor who is trying to get a peek at how your app works? You will never be able to protect yourself against something like that unless you are willing to go to some extreme lengths of conducting proper background checks and checking the identity of each and every licensee, which would actually discourage people from buying your software and will also add to your running expenses.
However, when you look from the point of view of a licensee, it is understandable that they want access to the source code at times, especially when the operations of their company depends a lot on the proper functioning of your software. At times like this, you can use a software escrow for their services. These services will be hosting the latest version of your source code in a secure online database that only the licensee will be able to access. The release of the source code can be determined by certain conditions as drafted in the licensee agreement. Say for example, they will be able to access the source code only when you are not able to provide updates in a regularly fashion and so on.
Try hosting software online with credentials
The fool proof way to stop your source code from getting into nefarious hands is by not circulating it in the first place. You can go this route if you are okay with the fact that you might by losing a few customers who wish to have access to the source code. At times like this, you can tag your source code with encrypted data, so that when it is wrongly circulated in the interwebs, you will be able to track it to the original licensee and can take them to court based on the terms of your agreement. Giving your software in a SaaS model is also a good idea, as the end user will be paying for a subscription fee to use the software and will never be able to own it.
I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about how you can protect your software source code online from various nefarious groups online and how you can assist the needs of yours customers without jeopardizing the future of your company. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.
Do you have any other reservations against using a service such as a software escrow? Have you invested in any other source code protection services? What is your opinion on the current state of security in software distribution? Do you think it’s robust enough to allow small companies to flourish? Let us know through the comments.