Software Compliance: Computing and Auditing

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Both managers and auditors know that compliance with software license agreements is an essential best practice. However, ensuring this has been an unending task for both managers and auditors. They intentionally or unwittingly allow their employees and co-worker to use unauthorized software to get a specific work done.

This is why as a best practice, software compliance audits have to consider both ethics and risks involved. There are two approaches most organizations take. These are; regular audit and self audit approach. Regular audit approach is done by the audit department and is labor intensive. It requires specialized technical audit expertise. This means there is need for best practices and compliance at a very high level. On the other hand, self audit is conducted by the management itself. Once it is conducted, the reports are sent to the audit department for analysis and monitoring the results. The management conducts random spot audits in individual units of the organization.

Both of these software compliance auditing approaches involve evaluation of some important best practices.  There must be appropriate identification of the software installed on the PCs, choosing the right tools and use of software recognition programs to check all data on installed software applications. The best example of such a tool is the SPAudit software. Other software programs work by combining a database with a recognition methodology in accordance with best practices. This creates a list of all installed executable programs regardless of whether they are included in the database or not. Additionally, the Barefoot Auditor (BFA) software produced by the company Pathfinder searches for all installed software on the hard disk. It retrieves information on product name, license, version and serial number. It recognizes all current and old installed software applications. This helps in ensuring software compliance within an organization in a sophisticated analysis approach.

BFA operates at a DOS platform of 2.1 or higher version. It recognizes all compatible LANs and runs on IBM compatible PCs. This minimum requirement is 256K RAM and takes less than 30 minutes for a complete analysis and generation of report. This application is straightforward, easy to use and simple to understand. The user guide has all the guidance needed to ensure best practice of the application in any organization. Follow-ups will be required as a regular best practice to ensure compliance and proper functionality.

Control Access by Guests to the Network

It is a recommended best practice to have a Guest user ID for visitors on the network. This has limited access settings to ensure control on problems. Internal audits must recognize lapses in controls while inspecting for control problems. The benefits of using a “Guest ID” are that it allows temporary access to only the shared folders. There is enough privacy for the organizations important and personal data. Additionally, the Guest ID doesn’t need a password which makes it easier to manage by the audits without accountability. At the same time, audits and managers can maintain their best practices without any hitch while guests visit their network.

Audits nonetheless need to ensure there is constant supervision and monitoring of all networks and internal data. Software compliance is an important and highly recommended best practice. It cannot be taken lightly in any organization managing massive databases of information.

Further reading: Corporate Governance | Audit | Performance Improvement

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