Testing for Failure

Not all errors in code result in failure. Not all vulnerabilities are exploitable. During the testing cycle, it is important to identify errors and defects, even those that do not cause a failure. Although a specific error, say one in dead code that is never executed, may not cause a failure in the current version, this same error may become active in a later version and result in a failure. Leaving an error such as this alone or leaving it for future regression testing is a practice that can cause errors to get into production code.

Although most testing is for failure, it is equally important to test for conditions that result in incorrect values, even if they do not result in failure. Incorrect values have resulted in the loss of more than one spacecraft in flight; even though the failure did not cause the program to fail, it did result in system failure. A common failure condition isĀ load testing, where the software is tested for capacity issues. Understanding how the software functions under heavy load conditions can reveal memory issues and other scale-related issues. These elements can cause failure in the field, and thus extensive testing for these types of known software issues is best conducted early in the development process where issues can be addressed prior to release.

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