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Source Code Theft Investigation – The Ultimate Victim’s Guide

Written by Anuraag Singh ~ Modified: 28-12-2022 ~ Source Code ~ 5 Minutes Reading

It takes years for companies to build a source code that causes a sensation in the market. However, once source code theft takes place, it can affect the organization in unexpected ways.

So, if you are one of them who doesn’t consider protecting your source code a priority. Do it right away!

What is a Source Code?

Source Code is a piece of code written in some programming language to carry out a specific action by a device (computer or smartphone).

Moreover, it helps in meeting the needs of businesses that have procedures in place, and want to retain regardless of the software used.

It is a part of the company’s intellectual property built with its blood, sweat, and tears. So, it puts the company in a problematic situation when a person steals it and declares it as its own without putting any effort. 

What is Source Code Theft?

Source code theft is an act of stealing the unique code of any software generated by companies. This software helps the company in many scenarios such as keeping financial records, preserving confidential data, and improving communication. 

However, once hackers gain illegal access to the software, they might edit the source code to suit their purposes. This also grants the hacker unfettered access to the company’s computer system which poses a serious risk to an organization.

You may also be interested in knowing – how to stop and prevent software piracy

How Does a Source Code Get Stolen?

The person stealing the source code can either be a dishonest employee, or the manager knowing the ins and outs of the organization. These people copy the source code and provide it to another person in greed for money.

Once the person gains illegal access to the source code, they can claim it as theirs, after making minor changes to it. Thus, protecting your source code is a must.

There are several laws under the Information Technology Act and Copyright Act to protect the Source Code of the company. However, it is better to be one step ahead and protect your intellectual property beforehand. 

So, it is advised to use the services of a cyber expert like Anuraag Singh, who has 10+ years of experience in the field. As specialist in cyber space,  he offers a variety of services such as Email Investigation, Phone Investigation, Data Forensics, Malware Forensics, Web Forensics, etc. 

He has core knowledge of the field,  making him a credible source for training and workshops aimed at raising public awareness of various cybercrimes.

But, if the cards are stacked against you, and you are a victim of source code theft, then you may contact me and my team, and we will guide you with utmost diligence on how to move forward with your investigation.

What is the Punishment Under the Law for Source Code Theft?

Stealing the source code of another person or organization is a cybercrime in India. 

This crime is punishable under Section 43, 65, 66 & 66B of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Also, under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Let’s discuss the action in brief, shall we? 

The Information Technology Act, 2000

Section 43 – Fine and Reimbursement for damage to the computer, computer system, etc.

For claims up to Rs 5 Crore, the petitioner can approach the Adjudicating officer (Who is an IT Secretary of each state)

However, for claims more than Rs 5 Crore, the petitioner needs to approach the Competent Court. 

Section 65 – Altering Computer Source Documents

For this act, the law penalizes the individual with imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to two lakh rupees or both. Sample Certificate 65b for admissibility of Electronic Evidence.

Section 66 – Computer-related Infringements

If a person commits the act specified in Section 42 dishonestly or fraudulently, he faces up to three years in jail or a fine of five lakh rupees, or both.

Section 66B – Penalty for Accepting Stolen Computer Resources or Communication Devices Dishonestly.

When a person acquires or keeps stolen source code dishonestly. Or, when there are grounds to suspect that it is a stolen source code. The individual will thereafter face up to three years in prison or a fine of one lakh rupees, or both.

The Copyright Act, 1957

Section 63 – Infringement of Copyright or other Rights Conferred by this Act

Any person who intentionally infringes or aids in the infringement of: 

(a) the copyright in work (SourceCode), or 

(b) any other right conferred by this Act, excluding the right given by section 53A.

For this, the person is imprisoned for a term ranging from 6 months to 3 years. In addition, a fine of Rs 50,000 Rs 2 lakhs is levied.

Tips to Prevent Source Code Theft

To safeguard yourself during development, avoid sharing access to the computer or network where the software is hosted.

  1. Always register the copyright for the computer program, source code, and documentation for greater protection and legal recourse.
  2. Always have a Non-Disclosure Agreement in place with each contractual party.
  3. Train and prepare employees against phishing attacks and data breaches.
  4. Always have a License Agreement in place with your clients.