Tips for Keeping Your Software Up to Date and Compliant

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Using outdated or unlicensed software is like leaving the doors wide open for criminals to stroll into your business. It creates huge security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to steal data, install malware, disrupt operations, and cause all sorts of nightmares. Proper software license compliance and version management are essential for protecting your organization.

The Risks of Falling Behind

Here are some of the major pitfalls that businesses face by neglecting their software assets:

Security Breaches

Out-of-date, unpatched software is low-hanging fruit for bad actors looking for openings to attack your systems. You will be defenseless against the latest viruses, malware, and hacking techniques.

Operational Breakdowns

Older program versions often become incompatible with newer systems and applications, causing crashes, data corruption, and grinding productivity to a halt. You cannot afford those disruptions.

Compliance Violations

Many industries have regulations requiring companies to use fully licensed, up-to-date authentic software to remain certified or pass audits. Noncompliance can void contracts.

Lawsuits and Penalties

Software vendors actively audit businesses to crack down on piracy and improper licensing. You could face stiff financial penalties or even criminal lawsuits if caught using their products nefariously.

The bottom line: keeping your software current and properly licensed is not just good practice – it’s essential for security, productivity, and protecting your business’s very future.

Building a Software Compliance Program

So how can you ensure your organization stays on the straight and narrow with its software? Here are some key components of an effective compliance program:

Start with an Inventory

First, you need full visibility into every single software product installed across your entire environment, such as servers, desktops, laptops, virtual machines, cloud instances, etc. Automate this inventory process.

Track Procurement & Licensing

Meticulously log all software purchases, license keys, and entitlements issued. Associate these with each installation in your inventory so you can prove legal licensing.

Enforce Governance Policies

Establish clear policies around approving, deploying, updating, and retiring software assets. Designate roles for activities like purchasing, patching, access controls, documentation, etc.

Deploy Management Tools

Do not try tracking everything manually; it is impossible once you scale beyond a few machines. Invest in specialized license management and software deployment tools to automate the workload.

Schedule Regular Audits

The experts over at Miro Consulting recommend that at least yearly, you conduct a deep internal audit to catch any licensing gaps or exposure points that need correction before vendors come calling. For example, run an IBM audit defense scenario to pressure test.

Allocate Proper Budgets

Dedicating a sufficient budget is crucial for not only procuring software, but provisioning management solutions, staffing compliance efforts, and training personnel on best practices.

The Upside of Compliance

Maintaining a robust software license compliance program requires ongoing investments of money, tools, and dedicated personnel. Nevertheless, the payoff is well worth the effort:

  • Fully updated systems are vastly more secure against evolving cyber threats.
  • Productivity isn’t hampered by crashing outdated apps or compatibility snags.
  • You’re audit-ready at all times with little disruption or risk of violations.
  • Your organization develops a culture of asset accountability and responsibility.

Most importantly, you avoid any unpleasant surprises from software vendors conducting audits and seeking to penalize you harshly. With the proper compliance foundations in place, audits become a simple formality rather than a crisis.

Conclusion

Managing your software assets may seem like a tedious additional task, but it’s actually a mission-critical necessity for modern businesses. Failing to keep applications licensed and updated is just asking for security breaches, operational meltdowns, and potentially ruinous penalties. Investing upfront in sound software asset management practices and tools means you’ll save considerable headaches and costs in the long run while protecting your entire organization.

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