Software Compliance Risks in the Age of Digital Transformation

March 5, 2019
Antony Attfield

Author

Antony Attfield

Head of Solution Sales, UK at SoftwareONE | Linkedin

Digital transformation is a burgeoning change in the world of business and technology. Organizational leaders are piping with excitement at the wealth of opportunities to grow their business and seize a considerable return on investment. As a result, these leaders can be blindsided by the risks of digital transformation. One considerable risk that initially seems innocuous revolves around software compliance and auditing.

It’s no secret that software helps employees perform their jobs more effectively. However, as the software environment becomes more complex, the risk of noncompliance with software agreements increases. Keep reading to find out software compliance risks associated with digital transformation, and what actions are required to avoid unnecessary challenges.

Lack of Software Compliance Facilitates Cybercrime

Cybercrime is at an all-time high. Over the span of just 10 years, the cost of cybercrime across industries has increased more than fivefold – up to $1.4 billion. One of the biggest driving forces behind this stark increase is data breaches.

Unfortunately, digital transformation exacerbates data breaches by granting organizations the ability to store massive amounts of data online. This increase in available data storage exists alongside the growing value of personal information. The growing popularity of IoT, the cloud, and other new networking technology has also dramatically increased the attack surface and number of entryways into an organization’s network.

These cyber incidents no longer are just a challenge for IT. Today, cybercrime often disrupts the entire organization with potentially devastating consequences.  According to IDG, 85% of CISOs said that security issues during digital transformation have had a somewhat to extremely large impact on their business. The average organization has also sustained an attack that resulted in data loss or compliance issues. However, a select number of well-prepared organizations that experienced breaches did not suffer from data loss or compliance issues.

One major way to become one of these well-prepared organizations is to update your software asset management plan. The first step to take is to acknowledge that any security risk is a business risk. Then, use software compliance to uncover where these digital security risks lie, and secure your business. This requires a security effort that is integral, holistic, and automated from the beginning, rather than put together over time. To assist in this, consider leveraging a managed security service provider.

The key outcome of a mature SAM program is understanding the data within your estate, and the risks inherent in having this data. A mature program can give visibility to software in need of patching and updating, which security software is running, and determine which software is no longer supported or soon won’t be supported. By utilizing these traits of a mature SAM solution, your organization will be able to eliminate some of their risk.

Our SAM maturity assessment can gauge your maturity level in 10 minutes.

Evolving Mandates

Partially due to cybercrime, software manufacturers have rewritten or reinterpreted their regulatory requirements. This has spurred organizations to re-examine their established business models. This is wise, as change is the only constant in the age of digital transformation. No compliance program will ever be a “one and done” process. It has become the norm for software providers to implement new standards, and enforce new interpretations of existing standards. These new interpretations are needed because the effects of digital transformation disrupt the traditional network infrastructure through technology like virtualization and cloud computing.

Being compliant with these evolving mandates isn’t easy. Staying up-to-date on such a complex subject requires reading and interpreting each individual document, and then determining how it interacts with other parts of your software environment.

It is a painstaking process just to ensure that the legal terms have been considered within the End User License Agreement (EULA). There could be restrictions for each software application that will impact your compliance or anticipated costs as you continue on your digital transformation journey.

The internal costs of the legal team reviewing these documents can be cost prohibitive, so many organizations choose to have other members of their organization review these documents – or, they just don’t review at all. By using external services, your organization can effectively manage these legal risks and identify key challenges within each contract or EULA.

After evaluating the state of your software compliance environment, it is important to partake in risk assessments. This will help your IT team prioritize which parts of software are most vulnerable to auditing. By regularly ensuring your organization understands the requirements of changing software agreements, full compliance will become feasible.

The Solution

Now that some of the biggest risks have been defined, it is time to forge a complete solution for software compliance. The first step is to implement a strong communication line across all of your departments, but especially to your IT team. It is important to realize that every team and department in your organization must be dedicated to resolving any software compliance issues.

Then, initiate a conversation with IT about putting software compliance as a serious priority on their radar. Achieving a suitable level of software compliance is a lot of work, but don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged. Break your effort down into bite-sized pieces to ensure everything is being done accurately, and avoid any overwhelmed feelings. To help identify software across your network infrastructure, be sure to find ways to increase the visibility of software on your network.

Last, think about how to get buy-in. Make sure your CIO and other members of upper management are aware of how digital transformation is affecting your compliance and internal audits. Communicate how improper software management can create major business risks. To help bring the point home, ensure everyone involved understands that a mature SAM program can bring an average spend reduction of 30%, ultimately acting as a boon to the business.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get lost in the hype surrounding digital transformation. While organizational leaders certainly should seize as many opportunities to grow their business, they must be aware of the potential software compliance risks spurred by digital transformation. With this information, your organization will be better informed of the risks involved with digital transformation, and have a better idea of how to stay compliant and avoid unnecessary risks.

Need some help tackling these complex issues? Contact us or learn more about our Software Lifecycle Management services.

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