Source code is kept in two different languages when looking at the broad spectrum, these are interpreted and compiled. In interpreted languages, source codes are readable using software that executes codes. Scripting languages are usually the kind that is commonly interpreted.
Compiled languages are deciphered using software to decompose it then analyze, after that the software can write out readable binary instructions on a microprocessor. In between all of this, there are bytecode languages that are also compiled but maintain the names of the symbols used, often seen with a 1:1 sequence between instructions in the program source and instructions in the compiled coding.
Generally speaking, compiled languages are easier to keep source codes private and safe. The compilation process breaks down calls into small binary codes and puts the instructions in a completely different order. For example, a function call could be disguised as to not appear like a function call.
Using this method, you can avoid displaying any symbols from the binary codes so that every function indication is removed. If you allow for only the binary code to be distributed, somebody could convert the information into readable data, but it will be very low level and not representative of the original source.
Bytecode language is such things as Java or .Net, this type of code is broken down then rearranged into a compiled language using symbol names. So removing them would not be an option, but you still can't retrieve the source codes from the binary.
Being able to see the symbol names means somebody could convert the source codes into a readable form for humans, so technically there is less secrecy here. This could be done at a much higher level than if somebody has used a type of language suitable for machine coding. This type of code can be run through an obfuscator replacing the names of symbols, variables, and functions with random sequences, making the code very difficult to follow if somebody tried to read it.
We hope this has helped shed some light on how source code is kept secret and the different types of codes available to use.
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