Let’s say you have an old house. It coughs and sneezes once in a while — maybe there are plumbing issues or strange squeaky noises. If you want to continue living there worry-free, you’d need to conduct an inspection, find potential problems, and fix them before you run into costly damages.
(But you don’t have to tear down the house and build a new one!)
It’s not that different when you have to rescue a software application from becoming obsolete or take over a product and need to know what you’re dealing with to save you from flying blind.
What’s a Code Audit?
A code audit analyzes the source code of a piece of software to discover bugs, security issues, or deviations from programming conventions and best practices. It looks at the software’s architecture to determine if the program can meet your business objectives now and in the future.
This specialized process goes through your existing codebase and identifies areas for improvement. It gives you the information you need to take over or rescue a software product without tearing everything down and starting from scratch. It also identifies outdated tools and unnecessary complexity that could mask deeper issues.
At the end of a code audit, you’ll get a list of updates to bring your product where it needs to be in terms of current best practices and its ability to meet your business requirements. You’ll also know what you’ll need to do to make these changes.
A code audit includes the following activities:
• Examine current architecture and technology stack
• Analyze vulnerability and security risks
• Validate the quality of the existing codes
• Check for performance and scalability
• Detect potential maintenance issues or challenges
Why Do You Need a Code Audit?
A code audit is recommended if you have an old product that’s likely to contain outdated code, notice performance issues but can’t identify what’s causing the problem, or haven’t reviewed your current code base for more than a year.
A study found that every hour spent on code audit and inspection can help cut down 33 hours of maintenance in the future. Who doesn’t like a good ROI!
Here are some benefits of conducting a code audit:
• Ensure the security and stability of your product, e.g., the latest patches are installed.
• Identify application backdoors and malicious codes which can lead to costly breaches.
• Look for speed issues or outdated user interfaces that can impact the user experience.
• Check that the product meets the latest device, browser, and operating system requirements.
• Confirm that the code doesn’t infringe on any copyrights.
• Find and fix issues that can impact the product’s maintainability.
• Identify vulnerabilities that can expose your organization, the product, or users to malicious activities and loss of business-critical data.
• Confirm that all licenses are current if the code references external technologies or programs.
• Find bugs sooner rather than later, which makes it easier and cheaper to fix them.
The Different Types of Code Audits
Code audits come in different flavors. Choosing the right ones that meet your objectives can help you get all the benefits without spending extra time and resources on the process.
Manual Code Review
A manual audit validates whether the technology used in a minimum viable product (MVP) can support future growth and scalability. It gives you the boost and confidence you need to pitch to investors. You can also apply this review process to mature products to detect outdated tools and technologies that can slow down performance and make the product less competitive.
Front-end Code Audit
This process identifies issues that can impact the user experience. A website performance audit checks image sizes, unnecessary files, and messy code structure. A responsiveness audit ensures that your app or website delivers a mobile-first user experience, which is also key to improving your SEO ranking.
Back-end Code Review
This audit checks for a codebase’s stability and vulnerability to security risks. Reviewers look for outdated tools or technologies that can cause issues in future updates. Auditors will also check the code structure to ensure that it adheres to accepted standards and patterns, which can help improve the product’s maintainability and reliability.
Infrastructure Code Review
It focuses on server performance and checks if all the systems are running as efficiently as possible. It helps ensure optimal performance and site speed, as well as cloud security. You can also see if the product uses up more cloud or server space than is necessary, so you can make changes to reduce expenses associated with bandwidth and storage.
Security Code Audit
Security is a big deal in today’s business environment, and slip-ups can land you in hot water. A security code review helps you uncover security flaws, database permission issues, and potential breaches. Finding weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the codebase allows you to remediate the problems right away and avoid costly breaches or downtime and expensive bug fixes further down the road.
Key Steps of a Code Audit
No matter which type(s) of code audit you pursue, it typically involves these steps:
1. Manual code study: Your audit team will understand how the product works, how the code is written, and how the components are connected. They’ll identify potential problem areas, look for code duplication, and check for internal errors.
2. Automated code study: This step reviews the source code for compliance with rules, best practices, and business logic. It also verifies that object-oriented programming principles are applied correctly.
3. Version checks: Reviewers will look at the versions of the languages, frameworks, and libraries because outdated versions often result in security vulnerabilities. Moreover, obsolete code can prevent new libraries from working properly while causing performance and maintenance issues.
4. Code audit report: The audit team will prepare a report detailing issues discovered during the process. They should include comments, comparisons, and graphs to explain the problems and prioritize the severity to help you implement a remedial plan.
Conducting an Effective Code Audit
Even if you have an in-house team of engineers, you should hire a third party to conduct your code audits. This can help you get an unbiased perspective to prevent oversight and blindspots. You should also perform regular audits throughout a product development cycle to help save time, headaches, and expensive fixes in the long run.
A code audit should be an integral part of your product strategy and web/app development cycle. Don’t have a process in place? Don’t worry! Get in touch, and we can help you get started.
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