Keeping Source Code Safe with Data Loss Prevention

When developing new software and algorithms, companies’ number one concern is that they do the job they are meant to do and function efficiently. Cybersecurity features, when implemented, are meant to ensure the protection of users’ data and guard against malicious process hijacking attacks. Source code itself is often left out of these security considerations and its importance as proprietary confidential information is overlooked.

Sensitive data is frequently viewed as referring to individuals’ data that is protected in many cases by law and whose leakage can cause both financial liability and a loss of customer trust.  When it comes to source code, inevitably, there are competitors that might develop similar products, but there is a marked difference between them having to do the ground work themselves and simply following a company’s available code as their blueprint.

The Vulnerability of Source Code

The simplest way source code can be leaked is through employee theft or negligence. The human factor is at the heart of many data leaks: whether it is disgruntled employees feeling underappreciated or individuals leaving the company, they often have direct access to the source code and can easily transmit it, post it online or copy it onto portable devices.

Third party contractors are also a notable vulnerability. In today’s interconnected world, companies often rely on outside services to run or improve their software. By outsourcing projects, they put their trust in other companies’ security measures to protect their source code. At the same time, they have no way of monitoring and ensuring the enforcement of non-disclosure agreements.

Many developers today incorporate open source software into their projects. Depending on the type of license used, this can mean that any software incorporating them must also adhere to open source policies. This means that, although companies are not obligated to publically post their source code, they can be legally bound to provide it to individuals who request it.

How Data Loss Prevention Can Help

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools can help software developers combat data leakage and theft by ensuring security policies that protect it in place. This means limiting or blocking employees from copying source code into emails, transferring it via social media channels or uploading it onto websites. They can also stop the copying of source code files onto portable devices such as USB sticks or external drives.

Source code detection in DLP often uses complex libraries to identify programming languages. These require in-depth knowledge to accurately differentiate between various programming languages, leading to heavyweight databases. DLP solutions such as Endpoint Protector, have taken source code detection to the next level by implementing N-gram-based text categorization which greatly improves the accuracy rate of source code detection, as much as 98% in the case of some programming languages.

By accurately identifying source code, DLP tools can more efficiently apply the policies created to manage, limit or block the transfer and use of source code.