Why QA Testing can be an Issue for your Business
Every single computer system is at some point vulnerable to attack, often mistakenly introduced to a system by application code errors or bugs. Even though modern computing systems and networks tend to be highly sophisticated, they often rely on making network connections and exchanging data with systems and users that can’t all be controlled by a single organisation, company, nation-state and the like. This lack of overall control, combined with complexity, makes it difficult to implement any kind of system as securely as possible.
Simply stated, no useful system can ever be made 100 per cent secure. But, finding the right balance between security controls and usability can only be done by knowing how vulnerabilities come to life and how they can be addressed. It goes without saying that security is an essential mechanism that restricts attackers from exploiting software. However, modern applications are facing several security challenges, which if not properly tackled, may inject serious flaws in an application. While testing can play a major role in quality assurance, it has a set of disadvantages that could be detrimental to the development of businesses.
Let us first examine some of the challenges faced by testing professionals today:
Third-Party Code: Today’s applications are a collection of different components built through different sources that include in-house, outsourced, open source, commercially built and others. Due to market pressure for producing software quickly and at low cost, software industries are using a significant portion of code developed by the third-party. The presence of third-party code in applications represents a serious security risk for companies, according to a study from security vendor Veracode. Bugs in the third-party library may lead the host application as a whole to become vulnerable. Security vulnerabilities in third-party code expose serious concerns since these vulnerabilities can affect a large number of applications.
Dynamic Security Policies: Information security policies specify a set of policies adopted by an organisation to protect its information as agreed upon with its management. It clearly describes different parties with their respective parts of the information at different levels. Information security policy document includes the scope of the policy, classification of the information, management goal of secure handling of information at each class and others. In traditional systems, these security policies are static in nature, that is, programmers can only specify security policies at compile time. However, modern systems interact with the external environment where security policies cannot be known well in advance and applied. Thus, security policies are dynamic in nature for such cases like; for instance, deciding authority of users depending on the type of message received through an external environment. Therefore, a mechanism is essentially to allow security-critical decisions at runtime, based on dynamic observations of the environment.
Software Complexity: Software—both as a process and the product—is becoming more and more complex due to prevailing practices in the industry. Primitive software had limited functionalities with limited users, but due to advancement in technologies and increase in dependencies on software, the software is not only highly complex but also huge in size and virtually expandable operational environment. Complex software has more lines of code and has more interactions among modules and with the environment. Increasing complexity and functionality of IT systems make it a subject of exploitation, which is hard to defend, resulting in a target suitable for adversaries to exploit.
Given these challenges, it has become more and more difficult for QA practitioners to adapt to the changing technology landscape. Some of the reasons why testing has become an issue for businesses today include:
1. Time-consuming: The core problem with QA in today’s fast-paced product delivery cycle is that it’s simply not fast enough. Businesses need to be competitive to deliver best products in a limited time period and testing processes are generally time-consuming.2. Decline in Manual Testing: Traditional testing processes have seen a sharp decline especially after the development of more ‘agile’ methods and test automation techniques. There is a general belief that automation testing is superior to manual testing. But, is it really?
While automation has numerous advantages and helps in the production of a reliable system, improvement of the quality of the test effort, and reducing test efforts and minimisation of the schedule; whereas, manual testing is also crucial and often ‘irreplaceable’ in certain circumstances. There is no doubt that the quality of the results of manual software testing can vary widely depending on many factors. However, the shortfalls of manual testing can easily be avoided.
3. Issues with Test Automation: Test automation provides great benefits to the software testing process in terms of improving the quality of results, speeding up the process, increasing test coverage and minimising the variability of results. However, automation is not a silver bullet; it comes with some problems. These include:
- Uncertainty and Lack of Control: A very common experience in test automation is that it is hard to know what is going on. That is, what exactly is being tested and how is the progress of test development and test execution. This uncertainty makes test automation a risky investment.
- Poor Scalability and Maintainability: Software test automation can be a costly investment. If not properly done, it solves the manual test execution problem but creates a new test automation production problem.
- Poor Methods and Disappointing Quality of Tests: Test automation methods may have poor reusability, often due to a bad automation framework or architecture. If they can’t be reused, the costs of developing and maintaining the test automation scripts also can’t be spread out over the testing, resulting in an overall higher cost.
Technology vs. People Issue: There aren’t many tools that can meet all your needs and be affordable for your organisation at the same time. Test tools are generally sold with the claim that they provide ‘easy’ automation, including some form of sophisticated record and playback. However, the implicit assumption is that the testers—even those without an engineering background—automate their own tests. In reality, most testers will not be able to adequately maintain the tests as the system changes.
The challenges software testing faces now requires an integrative solution; this means that new solutions must run alongside all traditional solutions. However, well-developed and well-practised concepts should not be abandoned in search of the new.