The Hidden Costs of Software in the World of Finance

  • Pedro Salgueiro , Business Development Manager Finance at CRITICAL Software

  • 07.03.2016 07:45 am
  • undisclosed

Tough competition, stringent security requirements and a business environment that demands instant results means that the financial industry has never been more reliant on safe, infallible software to support its success. From back-office applications with records loaded with highly-confidential information to smart, customer-facing apps, leading financial institutions must ensure their software systems are not only innovative, but efficient, secure and failsafe, to ensure they get things right.

Believe it or not, despite how much this sounds like common sense, many financial organisations choose to run the risky gauntlet of deploying and using software before it has been thoroughly tested. A major UK bank recently faced 56 million pounds’ worth of fines after a software error shut down its customers’ ability to access their banking accounts. The issue effected over 6.5 million customers over the course of many weeks, with many individuals unable to view their account balance, pay their mortgages or withdraw cash. And all because of a hidden software flaw.

Things don’t have to be like this. Industries with mission and safety-critical applications – like those in the aerospace and rail industries – have long tested software properly before it is put to use, wiping out the kinds of mistakes that could cost years of work to remedy or, in some extreme cases, human lives. Whilst the failure of processes in the financial industry might not endanger lives, that doesn't mean their failure doesn't cause significant, long-lasting business damage. Increasingly, industries with business-critical applications, like those in finance, are now also switching on to the dangers untested software poses.

So whilst time to market is always crucial and supporting business growth with new innovative products and services is integral to a financial market that is constantly seeking to re-invent itself, providing customers and employees with well-tested, fully-functioning software tools is paramount to long-term security, peace of mind and success. 

The good news is that new cost-effective, technological solutions are now emerging to help financial organisations achieve better, more secure and more reliable software. As part of this mini-revolution, the term SSDLC (Secure Software Development Lifecycle) refers to a specific process within the development of software where the analysis and prevention of potential problems that might otherwise go unnoticed until it is too late takes place. This process includes pre-release testing at what is called ‘the development level’, fixing potential problems before they materialise, when it is too late – in other words, when the software is actually deployed and where the cost to fix the problem would be far greater.

Of course, to take full advantage of the benefits SSDLC brings to financial organisations, it is important that a culture is put in place to ensure that all systems and software adhere to its principles. This means buy-in from the top of the organisation down, so that all software processes are subscribed to SSDLC best practices and integrated in a way that promotes security and efficiency. For institutions adopting these principles for the first time, working with external experts can be a crucial first step in ensuring that SSDLC is properly integrated into software development practices. 

The advantages for organisations that are able to implement SSDLC practices are clear. Research shows that correcting problems before business-critical software is actually deployed is approximately six times cheaper than trying to correct any problems after deployment. And, with the average banking app containing over 100,000 lines of software code, and with 1,000 lines of this code typically needing to be corrected pre-deployment, the value of proper pre-testing is clear.

Ultimately, ensuring the software used in the world of finance is properly tested before deployment means that organisations can enjoy peace of mind, lower overall software operational costs and a faster route to secure and reliable systems first time around.

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