One of the things about technology is that it’s constantly evolving. It’s no different when it comes to software and particularly testing.
No matter the size of business or organisation you run, it’s essential that you prioritise the use of software test resources so you know you’re doing all you can to protect yourself against hacking and cyber crime.
Unfortunately, no one is safe these days and a good defence is most certainly you’re best offence when it comes to keeping your networks safe. Reuters has just reported on one of the most high profile cyber attacks to hit Australia, with its national parliament targeted by hackers earlier this month (February).
Although there is no evidence as yet that any data has been compromised or stolen, all those on site were instructed to reset the passwords on their computer networks as a precaution.
Director of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney James Der Derian suggested that in order to carry out an attack of this nature, the perpetrators would need to have access to all sorts of big resources, so it’s most likely that a state-backed hacker is behind it.
Speaker of the lower House of Representatives Tony Smith and president of the upper house Senate Scott Ryan issued a joint statement on the matter, saying: “We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes … Accurate attribution of a cyber incident takes time and investigations are being undertaken in conjunction with the relevant security agencies.”
If you’re worried about being targeted in a similar manner, it might be worth having a free health check carried out across the board so you know how well you’re performing and identify and control the inherent risks involved in your operations.
For many years, software development has been dominated by a few large companies, but one expert has recently suggested that we could see the landscape changing shape in the coming years.
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Shishir Mehrorta explained that a new generation of ‘makers’ is coming through and that they are changing software development to bring it closer to its roots – a sector where anyone could program and solve problems.
“I think software is entering a new phase with its own version of the Maker Generation – people won’t want to buy one-size-fits-all solutions made by others, they’ll want to make it themselves,” he asserted.
That could mean businesses of all sizes investing more heavily in people with knowledge of software development to ensure that they have systems, both customer-facing and back-end, that are tailored for their company.
Of course, within the software development process there needs to be testing, and developing a software quality process will be essential to ensure the output works as desired.
However, Mr Mehrorta stated that for a true revolution in software development to take place, there will need to be a change in the interfaces we use for coding and software development. He added that this will lead to some exciting new solutions, but said that “for every brilliant solution, there’ll probably be a hundred not-very-brilliant solutions”.
If you’re already developing software for your business in-house, you may want to explore the idea of continuous testing, which we recently explained can be a useful tool for ensuring your software development stays on track and doesn’t hit any major problems along the way.
You may well have set out personal resolutions this January, but have you set out any business resolutions? If the answer is ‘not yet’, you may want to consider setting some that relate specifically to the technology you’re using.
A recent article for CMSWire offered five suggestions of resolutions that can help your company have a “digitally excellent” 2019. Among them is the need to always be testing.
The news provider explained that quality and speed can come together, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, in a digital environment you should never “sacrifice speed to market in the name of quality, or quality in the name of speed”, the article argues.
How do you manage to balance those two elements? By always testing your software and applications.
The article explains that carrying out continuous testing “prevents the costly delays that occur when a bug is uncovered at the end of a release cycle”. It’s this that gives you your speed. But, of course, continuous testing also means that any performance or functional issues are identified early and therefore don’t make it into production. This provides the quality.
“It is an essential and often overlooked element of digital excellence, one capable of turning lost customers into delighted advocates,” the website states.
Software Development Times also highlighted the benefits that continuous testing brings recently. It shared the results of a survey among developers and testers, which found that 92 per cent believe continuous testing provides quicker feedback on “observed defects”, while 84 per cent of those questioned said it also “speeds up release cycles”.
If you need some help with test process improvement, talk to our experts today.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to reassess your IT security and decide which areas need prioritising the most – which software test teams can certainly help with.
Any charity out there planning on making this a focus over the next 12 months may want to have a look at this article on the Charity Digital News website, where head of charity engagement at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Kate Sinnott goes through some of the biggest cyber security trends expected to emerge this year.
She explained that we’re now seeing a rise in ransomware, which could see systems shut down by cyber criminals demanding a ransom be paid before these systems are restored. In addition, email fraudsters will likely continue targeting the third sector and those involved in charity work would be wise to be on their guard against phishing attacks.
Ms Sinnott explained that a “community of trust” often exists in this particular sector and it’s easy to believe that people are reaching out because they want to show their support for the charity in question.
As such, always be vigilant about emails coming in and remain suspicious of anything that looks untoward, avoiding clicking on malicious links or inputting your bank details.
The big problem here, Ms Sinnott continued, is that these phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can be very convincing.
“The NCSC has done a lot of work to make emails safer – including pro-actively stopping 54 million malicious emails being sent in one year spoofing government. But other ‘phishing’ techniques still present a danger to tricking recipients. Just because an email contains some personal information about you such as your address, don’t automatically think that it is a legitimate email,” she said.
You can find a cyber security guide for charities on the Ecclesiastical website if you’d like a few pointers on how to really prioritise this in 2019. Figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office show that the number of charities experiencing a data breach rose by two-thirds year-on-year from April 2015/2016 to April 2016/2017.
It’s important to remember that cyber crime can happen to any business, no matter the size or industry, and while you might well think you’re small fry compared to other companies and criminals would have more to gain from going after a larger organisation, it’s also worth thinking that smaller enterprises may well be easier targets.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with all the ways that cyber criminals may try to take you down so you can adequately prepare and make sure that your systems are robust enough to withstand an attack… and that you have processes and procedures in place to mitigate the impact should something happen.