The government has launched the PAS 754 "software trustworthiness" standard to help organisations avoid software failures.
The standard is "the UK's first successful attempt at codifying what constitutes good software engineering", and sets out the processes and procedures which organisations can apply to "help them procure, supply or employ trustworthy software", said the government.
Universities and science minister David Willetts launched the PAS 754 standard. He said: "Robust and reliable software is a vital tool for modern day businesses, enabling them to operate efficiently while protecting them from growing cyber security threats.
"This new publically available specification, developed with the Trustworthy Software Initiative (TSI), will help UK companies select the most secure, dependable and reliable software for their needs, as well as providing them with the skills to use it effectively."
He added: "Future UK companies will also benefit, with the education materials being made freely available to universities for the next generation of young professionals."
Sir Edmund Burton, TSI president, said: "It is unacceptable to customers, users, shareholders and taxpayers that major programmes have been delayed and, in many cases, have failed, because of serious defects in software.
"All parties are entitled to expect the same degree of reliability, availability, security and resilience from their software as they have come to expect from the mechanical components of their systems."
Howard Kerr, chief executive of the British Standards Institution (BSI), said: "A document such as PAS 754 is important because it can help to close down the trapdoors in an organisation's software platform that leave it vulnerable to cyber attack.
"Identifying how trustworthy software is, means addressing its safety, reliability, availability and security. It ensures that those in the organisation responsible for maintaining and strengthening IT systems have conducted due diligence in this area."
The TSI is supported and funded through the UK government's £850 million National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) and is one of the key elements helping to deliver the government's National Cyber Security Strategy. The document is said to be the result of extensive collaboration amongst the public sector, industry and academia.