“Software audit” is a term that describes the process of checking the source code of a program to verify compliance with the specification of a standard.
An essential characteristic of a software audit is that it is not concerned with the effectiveness of a program but rather with its security. The reason for this is that finding security flaws and then fixing them is too time-consuming. Auditors usually focus only on those aspects of a program’s source code that affect the application’s security, such as input validation, output encoding and data validation.
By contrast, software engineers focus on the functionality of their programs and so are less aware of the security implications. Thus, software engineers usually expect it to function correctly when they write code. For instance, they will write code that calculates whether two numbers are evenly divisible by three without testing whether their math functions are doing the right thing.
An audit request will come your way if your company purchases software licences. Microsoft is the company with the most frequent requests. Oracle, Adobe, IBM, and SAP are just a few examples of large technology companies.
This week, I’d want to talk about some techniques for avoiding a software audit that you can use. Even if you do not participate in audits, you will still receive inquiries. On the other hand, the following suggestions will assist you in navigating the problematic auditing playing field. Put another way, you should be better positioned to resist an audit. It is much better if you can avoid one altogether.
Complicated licencing procedures lead to uncertainty among applicants, which plays straight into the hands of auditors. You may honestly feel that your organisation is operating within the confines of the law. The auditors, on the other hand, know where to look. They are well-versed in identifying ambiguity in language and contracts that you would otherwise ignore.
Incredibly complicated software contracts are created by the software firms themselves, which are extremely difficult to understand. As a result, even if you are meticulous in assessing every contract you sign, there may be misunderstandings in how you distribute those licences throughout your organisation.
Recent work included collaborating with a firm that was migrating a number of its services to the cloud. One of the reasons for doing so was to lessen the complexity of their licence agreements, which had become increasingly complex.
However, they discovered that the situation was considerably more complicated because they were working in a hybrid cloud and on-premise setting. When it comes to creating services in the cloud, it is so simple that many workers don’t think about the licencing implications until it is too late. This same dynamic element of the cloud makes it so alluring, but it may also present tracking challenges owing to the ease with which a computer can be brought online by anyone.
Relocating solutions to the cloud can minimise intricacy. It is still early where combined atmospheres are the norm. Don’t think your cloud suppliers recognise the details of your licensing deals. Understand that you’re likely to have licensing issues if you attempt to move on-premise software to a cloud setting. It is best to resolve those sooner than later with your vendor.
Perform Regular Internal Audits
When it comes to internal auditing, many organisations will undoubtedly wait until they have received a request for a software audit before starting. Please do not fall victim to this technique. Making internal audits a priority can assist you in identifying licence deviations before they become costly concerns. It has come to my attention that when a firm is expanding at a rapid rate and expanding its geographical reach, some of the most visible licencing issues occur.
It is much too simple to assume that you will ultimately be able to ensure that all of your new recruits are utilising software that is compliant with the regulations and standards. Auditors are well aware of this weak spot. When they track it down, you should expect them to cost you for prior non-compliance, which will be billed to you retrospectively.
An internal audit should be carried out at least yearly. Vendors who offer to assist you in resolving your compliance difficulties are to be avoided. Many are sincere, but others see it as a chance for a covert audit. It is preferable to do the audit on your own, with the help of your employees. Almost all of the main software developers provide solutions to assist you in conducting internal audits.
Most people are honest about how their tools function and how frequently they contact their loved ones. Ask the vendor about how they access and share data before deploying any monitoring equipment. The idea here is to anticipate problems before they are brought to the attention of suppliers. Work with the seller to fix any issues you identify.
Educate Your Employees
Too many compliance issues stem from the fact that employees use the software in ways that are outside the licensing contract. I have seen this happen inside companies that rely heavily on virtualisation. Some employees do not understand the complexities around virtualisation and assume a temporary host/server can be deployed without breaking the contract. Virtualisation is so mainstream today that you can solve the problem by educating your employees on basic software compliance models.
Make education part of the onboarding process for new employees to understand the start’s seriousness. However, don’t stop with new employees. Ongoing awareness campaigns can help you get the word out and bubble up any concerns employees have about their tools and devices. You must be vigilant when communicating the importance of software compliance to the entire company.
You should also have a process whereby employees can request software tools they need to do their jobs. Ignoring their requests will not make the problem disappear. You are far better off having a vetting process to ensure new software requests match business objectives. That allows you to work with the employee to determine the best option while remaining compliant.
Plan Accordingly for a Software Audit
You may have all your licences in order, but you will face an audit if you buy enough software. It is better to plan for an audit than to pray for none. Most businesses expect to be audited eventually. Your organisation should establish who is responsible for managing audits. It’s important to have a single point of contact, especially in large firms with several software buyers. An audit team is usually formed with one person as the lead.
The audit team should be ready to respond. This is usually 60 days, although it can be changed. Some vendors may agree to no audits for the first several years. The audit team should know the contracts and be able to advise and question internally and outside. Putting together an IT, asset management, and legal team is a smart start. The team does not have to be enormous, but it must be well-informed and ready to respond.
Like a root canal, a software audit is generally not your cup of tea. Audits are tedious, difficult, and costly. But they don’t have to be if you’re prepared and follow some simple standards. The main issue I find is that organisations do not act until they receive an audit notification. Maybe you can persuade the auditor to put it off for a few months.
Your lack of forethought will ultimately catch up to you. Accounting audits are becoming increasingly common as software businesses migrate to the cloud. Some auditors consider themselves sales reps. That is the current environment.