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Finding Software Flaws Early in the Development Process Provides Clear ROI

Enterprises spend enormous effort fixing software vulnerabilities that make their way into their publicly-facing applications. The Consortium for Information and Software Quality estimates that the cost of poor software quality in the United States reached $2.41 trillion in 2022. That’s nearly 10% of the current GDP within the US. As we will show, it makes sense that the cost of poor software quality is so high. It’s also completely avoidable, and software flaws must be avoided with the world’s increased dependency on software. 

Consider that in 2010, the worldwide software market was $232 billion. By 2030, that figure is expected to reach $1.4 trillion. Our software runs our finances, business transactions, commerce, healthcare services, manufacturing, energy distribution, and, increasingly, our automobiles. The time for the world to start taking software quality as the public safety and cost issue that it is has long passed. However, setting the public safety and privacy issues of software quality aside, the cost of poor and insecure software to individual companies is high — and there’s a clear return on investment (ROI) in finding these flaws early.

It’s in every organization’s self-interest to improve the software quality they create and do so as early as possible in the development process. 

Unfortunately, enterprise software development teams at many organizations are not finding security-related software flaws as they write their software. As a result, such flaws get shipped in the applications used by customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. This creates serious security risks as threat actors might find and use these flaws to breach enterprise applications and move laterally throughout their target environments.

Once a security-related flaw is published to software used in production, the race is on to find the bug first. If a company is lucky, the flaw will be found during a software security assessment by its internal security team or perhaps a third-party provider. If the flaw lingers too long, it’s more likely to be found by an attacker targeting the organization in the hopes of stealing data or perhaps conducting a ransomware attack.

The security and increased trust associated with quality software are clear. The return on investment and the business benefits of high-quality and secure software are not always well understood. 

Here they are:

Cost Efficiency and ROI: It’s estimated that developers can spend 20% of their time fixing vulnerabilities. If these vulnerabilities can be found early in the development process, that cost is reduced dramatically. For instance, if it costs $200 in developer time (for simplicity) to fix a flaw in production, that cost would be close to $10 if it was found in development. And if a developer spends 20% of their time fixing flaws in production systems, there’s roughly $20,000 in potential labor savings annually. 

Further, automated testing in the development process will improve developer output testing time and reduce the risk of a data breach or regulatory fines. 

Improved Efficiency and Productivity: Automated security testing will provide faster feedback to developers about their errors and enable more rapid remediation. Rapid identification and remediation of flaws will also reinforce good coding habits, reducing the amount of time addressing vulnerabilities even further.

Risk and Liability Reduction: In specific industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and elsewhere, software flaws can have serious consequences, even leading to injury and death. Here, vulnerability detection and remediation early in the process can mitigate these risks, with potential savings in avoiding legal and financial penalties.

Protect Business Brand and Reputation: Data breaches and security incidents that cause availability issues and downtime will harm reputation. This leads to lost business and eroded customer trust. Finding flaws before they make it to production systems will go a long way to avoiding such situations.

Lower Insurance Premiums: Quality software may reduce cybersecurity insurance premiums. Organizations may successfully negotiate reduced cybersecurity insurance premiums by demonstrating effective and secure development processes.

While it’s evident that quality and testing will increase security and software quality, there are also considerable business benefits and savings. The ROI of finding vulnerabilities early in the development process provides for cost savings, efficiency gains, and risk reduction. 

These advantages make a compelling case for integrating security testing early and throughout the software development process.