Virtually every gadget you touch these days is controlled by a small computer following instructions written down deep inside it. We call those instructions software or sometimes code. The good thing is that computers will follow their instructions accurately and tirelessly, which allows it to operate efficiently. That can also be a bad thing as computers blindly follow those instructions, and, if not written, properly and securely it will continuously cause issues.
Code is constantly becoming more complex, which offers a greater possibility of human error in the coding made by developers. If not properly addressed, sometimes these mistakes make a service barely usable, or can even allow hackers to break into systems and steal information. To avoid these issues, better cleaner and more accurate code needs to be made.
How developers can build more reliable code
One good practice for other developers in your company is to periodically review the code for obvious mistakes. However, sometimes an outside group of developers have already solved a common problem and made that code available for anyone to use – freely in many cases. We call these third-party libraries. Saving time by reusing other peoples’ code is great, but always double-check the code to ensure there are no errors in those third-party libraries.
Processes and Automation to the Rescue
At Cohesion, we use tools to scan the code we write, in conjunction with good old-fashioned manual reviews at periodic intervals. We also use tools to alert us when third-party libraries have errors, so we can use the newer version of that library.
It doesn’t stop there. We can control any changes made to our service by having a quality assurance group who monitors if improvements were made correctly. Only when everyone tests and signs off on those changes are they released to our customers. On top of that, several times a year, we pay third parties to try to hack into our systems to ensure we are as secure as possible. This allows any possible security loopholes to be discovered and closed.
Why is this important?
Ensuring our customers use a stable product makes sense but ensuring our customers’ buildings and information are protected is critical. Securing code is a moving target. Developers are constantly adding new features, fixing bugs, or just making the app easier to use. Each change has the prospect of introducing an unintended vulnerability. Instead of fearing each change, we put processes and tools in place to catch them as early as possible and mitigate the risk of any negative outcomes. Ultimately, this shows our commitment to our customers that we take data and product security seriously and provide a top-class, quality product.