Avoid employees from stealing source code on a project (WebDevelopment)

Hello experts,

for some work I use odesk or local freelancers but let's asume I have some tribe employees too. How do you think you can protect your code in small webdev business? The CMS is the main attribute of concerns here. I'm in situation where I can't have tribe employees yet and the "danger" that freelancer actually benefits from my code and set up a small business too is much higher I think. But I guess the protection options are very limited but I don't know. I hope You have some advices.
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Ray PaseurCommented:
It's very difficult to "protect code" because as soon as an idea is understood, the code can be built to implement the idea.  This is especially true in a field like web development where the code basically does nothing but move data around.  We don't drive machinery or launch rockets with PHP.

OTOH you have a good chance of protecting the underlying data.  You can encrypt your data base and communications.  You can organize your application in the form of an API so that the exposed data is strictly limited to authorized clients.  You can use reasonably secure API keys.  In the USA you have legal protections, too.  You can sue at law for remedies against those who steal from you, however the need for this is very, very rare.  Not so in some other countries, and USA talent may appear expensive, but you get what you pay for.  There are legal protections available for process and design patents and these can cover software.

These are all parts of "security" and for that, I would recommend that you become active in OWASP.  There are no short answers here - security is a layered process and it's constantly changing.

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Fajer39Author Commented:
Thank You Ray for a good explanation. You're right that moving things around with PHP is not rocket science but when you have CMS which can work with different ERP systems (for bigger e-commerce clients), it's quite a big know-how there.

But it's of course a hypothetical thinking from my perspective :-) and I was just curious.... So thank you.
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