Dmitriy N. Full-Stack Developer

How to secure your own app and not to lose it?

You order a company to develop a mobile app, website or other project, fully believing that the finished product will be yours alone. But are you sure this is the case? Can developers hold or claim ownership of your product? If conflicts arise, who will be right and how do you protect yourself and your rights? Let’s talk about that in this article.

What can happen?

When you turn to professionals, everything usually goes smoothly: outsourcing companies tend to act honestly, and all processes are transparent. However, there are cases when developers can hold an app or website hostage. This can happen not only because of the unfairness of the team - it can be caused by disagreements during the project. For the customer, such a situation can turn into a real disaster: money paid, but no product received. Or the developer is the only one who has access to your application and can influence business processes. Sometimes the owner may be required to pay additional fees for access, which is also unpleasant. Fortunately, you can avoid such situations: it is important to follow the rules right away, which will help you control your project from the beginning.

Five steps to securing your product

Protect yourself legally

Before working with a developer, make sure that all intellectual property, including the source code, will belong to you legally. Pay close attention to all legal formalities.

List of required documents:

- registered patents and trademarks;

- copyrights;

- non-disclosure agreement (NDA);

- contract for the development of software.

Developers protect themselves from customers who don't want to pay, so a fair agreement is payment in exchange for intellectual property. The contract should clearly state the owner of the intellectual property created during the project, as well as the requirements of both parties. By taking these steps before the project begins, the customer is guaranteed legal ownership of all intellectual property created during the contract.

Get administrator access to your code

As with legal ownership of your IP address, it is important to have administrator access to a repository with an updated version of your code. Different levels of repository permissions give you access to features and tasks, and the administrator level allows you to manage individual team and group access. If the developer grants you read-only access, this means that you can only browse the site (and this is the lowest level of access).

The developer may not grant access at all, or may remove you from the repository if they want to hide code.

Insist on administrator access. It's best to get all access before you start developing, but if you don't have time to do it right away, negotiate access while you're at it.

Request access to app store accounts and certificates

Often development companies publish apps to AppStore and Google Play through their accounts. This gets the product out into the world faster and avoids lengthy publishing delays for everyone involved. You can create your own account later, and the developer can transfer ownership without losing any feedback.

By the way, don't forget about app store certificates. These certificates are used to distribute and submit to the app store, so this is sensitive information associated with your product. It is critical to have administrator access to these certificates to avoid any future problems.

Keep a list of all accounts

It is advisable to keep a list of accounts for all the services the team works with on your project. Keep a permanent list of accesses so that nothing will lock you out

Keep all relevant documentation

The developer is likely to create a plan or guide to the steps involved in creating the app. Keep this information safe, especially in case it becomes necessary to hand over control of the project to another team.

Choosing a developer

Before starting a project with a new developer, always research the company or person carefully if you decide to work with a freelancer. Ask for references and talk to past clients to get a complete picture of the contractor.


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