What is software audit and why is it performed
Modern businesses are incredibly software-reliant. To operate, they need countless applications that facilitate everyday tasks. Making sure that their software is on par with industry standards and their competition is vital for companies to succeed.
To make the most out of your systems, you can conduct a software audit, allowing you to assess the effectiveness, security, and weak points of your internal infrastructure.
Software audit definition
Software audit is a broad term. On the one hand, you have internal audits that help with the quality assessment of your systems. On the other, there are external audits that primarily focus on licensing, industry compliance, and legal requirements. Still, the purpose of various software audits is more or less the same — finding issues that can be improved and making the most of your system. And audit is definitely something that companies are interesting in right now.
Types of software audits
Software quality audits
If your business is operating on legacy software, it is a good idea to conduct a quality audit and define areas that should be improved to guarantee you have access to the highest quality software. The new technology is constantly emerging, and making sure that your systems are up to date with the latest trends should be an integral part of your strategy.
Such audits let you retain peace of mind about the future of your company. You need a long-term business strategy, and if you have an existing infrastructure, then an audit should be one of your priorities. Not only do you get an expert opinion about your system’s flaws, but you’re also provided with possible improvements and fixes.
When is a good moment for such an audit?
The best ones may be when you’re scaling your business up, moving forward with digital transformation, reshaping your system to match the current market conditions and requirements, or you’re simply in need of a new solution. Even if you think that your current solutions work well, there are always things that can be done better.
According to a study by Spiceworks Ziff Davis, as many as 76% of businesses plan on long-term IT infrastructure changes, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
How to run it?
Now, there are a couple of ways you can approach a quality audit. You can either make use of an in-house QA team to check out whether your software is working as intended, or you can outsource the entire process to professionals.
Outsourcing such a service comes with many advantages. You get an independent analysis and the conclusions that are drawn from such a third-party audit are usually far more in line with reality.
Another benefit to outsourcing is that you may expand your resources whenever you want, which is much more complicated with an internal team.
Currently, cybersecurity is a significant concern for many companies. Malicious acts, including data breaches, phishing, and distributed denial of service, are getting increasingly common. With our world largely based on software, hackers make use of the ever-evolving techniques to run cyber attacks.
Security audits are a way of preventing such attacks. By preparing your infrastructure, you’ll be able to mitigate the damage or avoid it altogether. Now, there are various ways of conducting such audits:
- Real-life social engineering is carried out to assess the chances of a potential attack.
- Penetration tests consist of simulated attacks, through which you get to find weak spots, code errors, and configuration issues in your systems.
- Web Application Security Assessment helps with finding flaws that stem from misconfiguration, information leaks, poor authentication methods, inadequate error handling, etc.
- The maturity of your Secure Development Lifecycle process assessment lets you maintain a sufficient security level of the apps your team is building.
- Compliance verification — GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, PCI-DSS.
- Third-party application checks to see if they somehow inhibit your infrastructure’s security.
Usability & accessibility audits
Already-deployed software can be subjected to a usability audit to see if there are issues with User Experience. Usually, such audits consist of multiple experts going through an application’s features, looking for potential hindrances to UX.
Such audits are necessary to investigate whether your app is comfortable and pleasant to use. There are numerous elements of usability & accessibility audits:
- User flow analysis, which consists of going down a potential path of a user and looking for any obstacles, makes sure that the journey is as smooth as possible.
- Colour use assessment allows for the correct selection of shades and tints to provide you with insight as to how the users perceive your product.
- Cognitive walkthrough looks at the application in terms of completing various tasks.
- Heuristic evaluation investigates usability in accordance with pre-established rules called heuristics.
- Most usually, third-party companies that offer such audits supply the software creators with advice as to what can be done to fix them.
Why are software audits performed?
Perhaps the most fundamental reason for software audits is Quality Assurance. Looking into your code can provide you with invaluable insights concerning its further optimisation. This is all done with respect to industry-specific requirements. This can prove to be crucial if you’re thinking about accelerating your digital transformation or system modernisation. Ensuring that your code and business processes are of sufficient quality is vital for moving forward. QA also takes care of your hardware — memory profiling and processor usage — to confirm that your machines operate at the highest efficiency possible.
Software audits also include due diligence of your current infrastructure and the profitability of modernising it. Conducting due diligence lets you investigate any hidden costs associated with further development and assess the technical debt. This allows you to get a grip on the risk factor of any subsequent investments. Future maintainability of your architecture and the costs connected to it is also an issue that’s often covered in software quality audits.
The appraisal of cybersecurity of your infrastructure is an integral part of software quality audit as well. This involves simulated hacker attacks, known as penetration testing, to find holes in your system’s security. A PENTEST is often the best way of uncovering any potential threats since it’s essentially the same as an actual breach or attack. Other security check elements are the Secure Development Lifecycle test, the assessment of risk in third-party components, real-life social engineering, a compliance audit, and Web Application Security Assessment.
Solutions for potential weak spots
A software quality audit not only pinpoints the issues with your architecture but also provides solutions for the weak spots. A good practice is to let the auditing professionals incorporate the improvements, as they know best what is wrong with your code.
Software audits are not only the necessary evil that companies need to conduct at some point. They are also a great opportunity to focus on the current state of your product/software/infrastructure and adjust it to business, legal, security and user requirements.