The Process of a Code Audit and Why It’s Necessary

Code Audit
Akash Shakya By Akash Shakya June 7th 2021

If you’re reading this sentence, it’s time for a code audit. Just like a home needs upkeep and a book needs editing, coding needs to be audited.

During this important process, your software will get examined from top to bottom to help keep it current, functional, and bug-free. 

Everyone wants a product that is visually appealing, fast, and the best at doing what it sets out to do. But without including code audits and the experts who conduct them in your development and maintenance process, you’ve got little chance of creating a lasting product or improving your current one. 

Keep reading below if you’re ready to learn more about what a software code audit is and how one performed by a top-notch company will keep your product healthy and up-to-date. 

What Is a Code Audit?

When code receives an audit, the depths of an app or software are inspected to catch errors, security risks, areas for improvement, and any other changes that could benefit the program.

In a proper audit, a developer will analyze each line of code to ensure it’s running how it should and to check that it couldn’t be made better.

At the end of the process, you’ll receive a detailed document outlining how the audit was performed, what it found, and what changes are recommended for best practices. From there you can choose how you want to manage your code with the recommendations you’ve received. 

While it may seem time-consuming, the result is well worth the effort. A code audit ensures that everything is working correctly and will continue to do so, helping to prevent larger bugs later on. Audits also help to ensure that your code is able to change as technology changes. 

You can think of a code audit as a chance to double-check every part of your product, even if it’s already live. Whether you need to make something market-ready or just want to make it the best it can be, a code audit will help you meet your goals.

It may even save you time and money in the long run by preventing larger bugs or catching security issues before they’re taken advantage of. For any software or program to have a chance at success, a code audit is necessary. 

When Is It Time for a Code Audit?

The short answer to this is: Always. There’s typically never a bad time for a code audit unless you’re dealing with extenuating circumstances. Otherwise, even the healthiest seeming code can benefit from an audit.

This is because auditing isn’t just for fixing problems, it’s for stopping them before they start. 

That being said, there are a few warning signs that your code is in need of prompt inspection. 

  • Performance bugs 
  • Security problems
  • Your software looks noticeably outdated
  • You’re unable to resolve certain issues
  • It’s been more than two years since your last code audit

Even if your software is running exactly the way you want it to, a code audit could still be a good idea. Without them, you can’t properly improve performance or prepare for upgrades. You also may not learn about security vulnerabilities until it’s too late.

No matter how good a code is, it won’t last forever. As devices, hardware, software, and user preferences change, so does coding. Audits are one of the best ways you can protect your code from falling behind or developing performance issues. 

As the access to technology and software development tools continues to widen, the amount of competition continues to increase as well. For any company or product to have a shot at success, they need to do everything that can to stay ahead of the pack. For software developers, that means conducting code audits. 

What Are the Benefits of Code Audits?

No one is perfect, and any code has room for growth. 

Whether your software is running well or not, it will benefit from an audit. Because auditing code is a process that is detail-orientated, almost no audit comes back empty-handed. Generally, the biggest benefits from an audit are better security, improved performance, updated style, and readiness for innovation, all of which work to improve your product.

Boosted Security

Each line of code is examined on its own and in context with other software, making an audit the perfect place to spot any issues which may compromise product security.

Hackers and viruses are constantly changing methods and tools, meaning that you can never assume you’re entirely protected. A routine involving a code audit is one of the best ways to ensure your software is as safe as possible. 

Improved Performance

While the codebase is being audited, anything that could slow down or otherwise hamper performance will get noted. Overly complex code, poor structure, and inconsistent style are all issues that can impair usability or cause bugs later on.

One of the biggest benefits of code audits is that even if they don’t find any ‘errors’, they usually find something that can make your software function better. Combining audits with hindsight is a great cocktail for improving the performance and speed of your program

Updated Style

A code audit looks at the styling of your product as well, checking that it looks and works the way users expect it to. Any decent software developer knows that a program can’t just be functional, it needs to be attractive. Users will move on from software that looks outdated, untrustworthy, or inexpert, so your interface needs to make a good impression. 

With code audits, you have the opportunity to look at how your software appears now and how it compares to your competitors. This helps you defend your program from user disinterest. 

Readiness for Innovation

As the internet and technology move forward, it’s crucial that your software is able to keep up.

Imagine if your code wasn’t able to transition from desktop to mobile, which has become a de facto requirement for any program worth a user’s time. How much business would you miss out on?

Code audits are crucial if you want your software to seamlessly cooperate with new tech trends and feature updates. 

Updated Design Patterns And Framework

The code of your program could be based on outdated design patterns, meaning that the best practices used to create it have been updated. Revisiting your code provides you with an opportunity to improve the design patterns and frameworks your program incorporates. 

What Is the Process of a Code Audit?

A quality code audit is more than just cracking open your program and taking a look around. 

Code audits often involve thousands of lines of code, making it a process that calls for patience and careful attention. Even if you’re a software engineer, you may want to consider hiring outside of your company when looking for someone to conduct a code audit.

Third-parties bring more experience and fresh eyes, and they are also more objective about the code they’re looking at. 

During the audit, a software developer has several tools at their disposal. There are plenty of programs designed to painstakingly analyze your code for complications, duplications, and other common issues. Auditors can also use specialized programs to test security, speed, and functionality.

Most developers have a preferred process for conducting their audit, so the exact steps may vary by who performs it.

Many use checklists, break the audit down into chunks, and spend time familiarizing themselves with the code before getting really technical. However it’s performed, the general goals and steps are the same. 

A true, well-done audit usually involves three phases of review: frontend, backend, and infrastructure. These different phases look at different parts of the program, ranging from what the user sees to the building blocks of code that allow the software to run. 

Frontend Audits

During this part of the audit, a software engineer will look at the code that directly impacts what users see and interact with within your app or program. While coding needs to function well, this portion of your product also needs to appear current and attractive. 

Software that looks outdated is likely to be ignored for a more recent option, so frontend code auditing helps keep the user engaged with your software. As technology continues to move forward, front-end audits have become more and more important. They are vital to making sure that your program looks and feels the way users and the industry want it to. 

Backend Audits

What most people think of when they think of code audits, this portion of the process inspects the code that really makes your product work. Here, the codebase is inspected for security problems, application of current best practices, functionality with other programs, and errors. 

The auditor will search for out-of-date tools and any overcomplexities in code that may be leading to bugs or slowing down your software. They’ll also be looking for ways the code can be improved to prepare for future updates and modifications. 

Infrastructure

Code audits are about checking every nook and cranny, and that’s what the infrastructure portion is for.

During this portion of an audit, the software developer will look at your hardware, any software that interfaces with the audit subject, and how your servers are functioning. They’ll be looking for more security risks, performance issues, and places for improvement. 

While outside of the bounds of code for just one program, this portion is just as vital as the other two in keeping your product healthy and current. 

What Happens After a Code Audit?

To some degree, this is up to you. Sometimes audits come back with little work needing to be done, and in that case, you can make the updates or wait a little while before doing so.

But for the most part, there are typically issues or potential issues that can be fixed that will immediately benefit your code, even if it’s not to a degree that a user will notice. 

Once your audit has been conducted, a process which usually takes from five to eight days, you’ll get a document with all the information you need to move forward with updates and modifications. 

Many companies do code audits as preparation for a big update or patch, so they use that information to help them minimize bugs and performance complications during that process. 

What if I Don’t Perform Code Audits?

While it may save you time or money, it’s never a good idea to skip code audits forever.

You may not see any immediate downsides, but odds are at some point it’ll become clear that you missed out. That’s because code audits are as much about preventing issues as they are about fixing them, so choosing to go without means choosing not to make protect your program for the future. 

Double-checking your work can definitely take time and effort, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’ve got a top-notch company helping you do it.

So if it’s been more than two years since the last time your software’s code got a check-up, it’s probably time. After all, the only thing worse than a security breach is one that could have been prevented with a simple code audit. 

Take Care of Your Software 

If you’re in the software business, you care about your code and your products. Code audits are one of the most powerful ways to boost your performance and protect your software now and in the future, and no good product should ever go without at least a few. Now that you know more about how code audits work, why they’re necessary, and what you can expect during them, it’s time to find the perfect partner to conduct your next one.  If you’re ready for us to start reviewing your code and making your software shine, reach out for a free consultation

Akash Shakya By Akash Shakya

Coming from distributed computing background, Akash manages the Sydney operations. He is highly technical yet very business focused and is always driven to create successful business products for our clients.

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