How to have reliable developers and securing code from being stolen


I have couple of concept for website but they require immense coding and designing. For that I am planning to hire developers and designers [Contractors]. As I know this is going to take couple of months to complete I afraid that those developers (specially designers) can take away my code/design/concept. How can I protect my concept from being stealing by my own team?

Edit The reason why I am asking this question is because my friend had opened a Product based (software) development company and after 4 months few developers left the organization and developed the same product with that code. Eventually, due to financial crisis and wastage of 4 months my friend has shut down the company.

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asked Mar 15 '13 at 22:23
133 points
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  • To make your question helpful for future readers, and fit the question and answer format, please edit and post your two questions as separate questions. – Global Nomad 9 years ago
  • @Globalnormad Is that the reason why my question is downvoted? I will update it as a single question. I also believe the second question is much suited for Project Management. – Zerotoinfinite 9 years ago
  • Thanks for making your (separate) questions conform to FAQ and for making it more succinct for future readers. – Global Nomad 9 years ago

2 Answers


You can't, except by contract.

You are worrying about the wrong thing, thought. If your business plan contemplates hiring a couple of developers, letting them design your product and then firing them, you are in more trouble you realize. Just wait until the first bug appears after your original team is gone.

Edit: You seem to be worried because what happened to your friend. He having his source code "stolen" (he should start legal action, btw) is just part of the problem. If two products are identical, but only one is successful, what can be said of the failing company?

If you don't stop innovating, your competitors will have to follow you. You just need to become a leader.

And this is crucial: don't use contractors. Hire a killer team.

answered Mar 15 '13 at 22:33
Leonardo Herrera
216 points
  • +1 Find a technical cofounder. – James Adam 9 years ago
  • I am not going to fire them as soon as I am done. I am only worried if my concept will get steal in between the development. Though, I will also be the part of the development team but I can not concentrate on them all the time to check whether they are uploading the code repository for their personal use. – Zerotoinfinite 9 years ago
  • Also, don't be paranoid! People is, for the most part, honest. Give them no reason to want to screw you in the first place! – Leonardo Herrera 9 years ago
  • +1 I will surely take care of that, thanks :). I am concerned because I had have seen failures in spite of having brilliant team and ideas. I just want to be rock solid before I jump into it. – Zerotoinfinite 9 years ago


Take this for granted. There is almost nothing you can do to make your code/idea(s) 100% protected. That too only if you can catch them stealing your idea/code.

But allow me to propose a fail proof setup for you ;) :

  1. Set up a few computers and secure/encrypt the hdds.
  2. Make sure none the computers can connect to the internet but only to a local computer which can act as a code repository.
  3. Disable all USB ports.
  4. You can write a few scripts which will disable copy pasting if you are using Windows as your OS
  5. Make your development team sign NDAs and come up with a very stringent policy.
  6. Or Get a really big ass computer and create seperate VMs for all your developers. Make them connect to the VM and ask them to develop their code on the VM. of course take precautions for data transfer.

This will make sure that this is the slowest form of software development. What will you do if they can remember the code and go home and make this own up ? Most coders will take some code home to build their own libraries which help them with their day to day job, some will take it home to resell it. There is really nothing you can do. I dont know which country you are from. But you have to know your local situation and then take a call whether a contract can really be enforced or not. So this is a gamble you have to take. Or if you are technical enough, just make the entire thing on your own, which may take some time but hey no one aint stealing nothing.


answered Mar 16 '13 at 02:21
151 points
  • I like this answer, but your statement, "Most coders will take some code home to build their own libraries... [or] take it home to resell it" shows little faith in us software developers. :D – rbwhitaker 9 years ago
  • @rbwhitaker : I am a developer myself. Ironically, the only person I trust with my ideas or my code is, well, myself. – Happybuddha 9 years ago
  • @rbwhitaker I am also a developer :) who knows what does it take to build a thing. It took me a very long time to design my concept and I don't want to loose it, at any cost. I understand that I am doing injustice with the developers by doubting their reliability but I have to do it. There is a old proverb in my country I hope I can convert it in english "**Locks are not made to protect your house from thief but they are made to stop making gentleman a thief**" – Zerotoinfinite 9 years ago
  • I can understand a few simple things to protect yourself, such as passwords for the repo (which you can remove any time) and (reasonable) non-compete clauses in a contract. But I've *never* worked with a person that stated or hinted at taking bits and pieces (or whole projects) home with them with the intention of using said pieces in elsewhere. Nor could I imagine any of them doing so. My point is, if you don't trust your developers to be responsible with the company's code and ideas, rather than "disable the USB ports", etc., you should get new developers that you *can* trust. – rbwhitaker 9 years ago
  • I would never consider doing any of the things you mention here. The only reason I have security is to keep _outsiders_ out of my properties. People working in my company have, literally, the keys to the place. – Leonardo Herrera 9 years ago

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