These days, businesses in the UK and beyond are increasingly dependent on third party software solutions, making software escrow a critical component of almost all risk management strategies. The recent iteration of ISO 27001:2022 has emphasised the vital role of software escrow in strengthening information security frameworks within organisations.
Software escrow is a legal agreement that protects the source code of software. It comes into play when businesses rely on third-party software vendors. In this arrangement, a neutral third party, the escrow agent, holds the software’s source code. This protection kicks in under predetermined conditions, such as if the vendor becomes insolvent or disputes arise.
Emerging software dependencies introduce vulnerabilities that can disrupt vital services, leading to significant operational setbacks. The new ISO 27001:2022 standard recognises these potential software vulnerabilities and the associated risks. To counteract these risks, ISO 27001:2022 highlights the importance of software escrow, particularly in the context of outsourced software development.
Annex A 8.30 of ISO 27001:2022 provides guidance on ensuring outsourced development aligns with an organisation’s information security requirements. Key factors from this annex relevant to software escrow include the protection of the source code through escrow agreements, documenting and assuring how the supplied software or IT system has been tested for malicious content, and auditing rights. These factors align with the transparency that software escrow agreements often facilitate.
Software escrow agreements help businesses mitigate risks by preparing for scenarios like vendor insolvency or disputes, as outlined in ISO 27001:2022’s Annex A 8.30. They ensure operational stability by guaranteeing access to the source code under stipulated circumstances. They also enhance vendor relationships by fostering trust and ensuring balanced partnerships.
In the UK, software escrow is becoming more relevant due to the country’s growing digital landscape. SES, a company with over 20 years in the software escrow industry, crafts agreements that align with modern business needs and standards like ISO 27001:2022. Their dedication to the industry and their clients’ safety and success makes partnering with them a strategic imperative in the current digital era.
To sum up, as digital work further evolves, safeguarding software investments becomes paramount. Software escrow is an effective way to protect your business from potential disruptions and legal disputes. It promotes trust, transparency, and continuity, aligning with the guidance provided in ISO 27001:2022. Given the increasing reliance on third-party software solutions, businesses should consider integrating software escrow into their risk management strategies to ensure their software investments are compliant, shielded, and future-ready.