5 reasons why software license tracking strengthens your organization

Organizations often use software license tracking applications as a tool to prevent license violations or other compliance issues. Even so, it is relatively common for these types of systems to be overlooked over time. After all, tracking software licenses isn’t the most exciting thing IT pros can do, and IT staff almost always have more pressing issues to solve. However, using a software license tracking application does more than just help with license compliance; software can also help to improve the security of an organization. Here are five reasons why.

1. You are responsible for the software running on network devices.

IT is ultimately responsible for all software running on devices connected to an organization’s network. While this does not directly translate to a safety issue, it does mean that if an application poses a security problem, IT staff will almost certainly have to answer for it. Take the initiative to closely monitor all software that is running on network devices can help IT avoid unpleasant surprises.

2. Software license tracking platforms have evolved along with the use of applications and devices by businesses.

Software license tracking platforms have evolved considerably in recent years. Five or six years ago, for example, it was relatively common for organizations to focus only on tracking software running on Windows desktops. While users were certainly “Bring their own devices” Back then, most organizations weren’t trying to track software running on user-owned devices.

Today, it has become increasingly rare for employees to work only from Windows desktops. Alternative desktop operating systems have become commonplace in the company. Likewise, BYOD is more common and some organizations are implementing CYOD (choose your own device) or COPE (custom activated by the company) device programs.

These programs have increased user productivity (and reduced capital expenditure) in many organizations, but they may also have increased the threat landscape. Software license tracking programs have evolved to accommodate these programs and help organizations mitigate risk.

3. You may be able to improve security by removing obsolete software.

Keeping an eye on the apps that users are working from can help you identify which versions of outdated apps are still in use.

There are many situations where an organization adopts a new version of an app that its employees are using, but continues to support the old version for a period of time. However, at the end of this coexistence period, some users may continue to use the old version. They may have an urgent need to keep the old version a little longer, or there may be a technical issue that prevents an immediate upgrade. Whatever the reason, it’s easy for these failed or postponed upgrades to be ultimately overlooked. Over time, users may find themselves continuing to rely on an outdated app – one that is probably not actively corrected.

Using a software inventory application can help IT staff identify obsolete applications which are still in use so that these applications can be replaced by a newer version.

4. Tracking software licenses is one of the best ways to detect hidden threats.

Tracking software licenses is one of the best ways to spot hidden threats. I have seen real life situations where a software license tracking application has identified the existence of hacking tools on an organization’s network. Likewise, I heard the occasional story of a software license tracker finding malware that an organization’s anti-malware software had completely missed.

5. Tracking software licenses may reveal excessive user privileges.

Finally, tracking software licenses can sometimes reveal the existence of excessive user privileges.

Suppose a software inventory audit reveals the presence of an unauthorized application installed on an end user’s corporate desktop. Because the app is unauthorized and not sanctioned by the organization, there’s a good chance the user installed the app themselves. If desktop operating systems have been hardened to make them resistant to end-user tampering, then the user who installed the unauthorized app was clearly given excessive permissions or found a way to work around the limitations that have been put in place. In either case, there is a security issue that needs to be addressed, and that security issue might have gone unnoticed without the software license tracking audit.