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The Importance of SAST (Static Application Security Testing)

Static Application Security Testing or Static Code Analysis is a technique/tool that allows the source code of a software to be checked for possible vulnerabilities, errors and problems, as well as to evaluate the quality of the code, its readability and maintainability.

It is essential for several reasons:

  • Reduces costs and time spent on fixes and maintenance. It is possible to prevent code problems from being incorporated into other parts of the operating system and a longer and more complex time to fix, as long as they are seen and fixed early in the development process;

  • Detects security vulnerabilities, such as authentication failures, SQL injections, or Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), which can be exploited by attackers with the intention of compromising system security;

  • Helps with quality assurance by identifying issues that can affect software performance, usability, and reliability.

Implementing a SAST solution starts with choosing a SAST tool. Afterwards, it is necessary to integrate the tool in the software development process and then configure it in order to meet the needs of the development team.

Source: Snyk

Examples of Tools

It is important to make sure that the tool is actually configured to check for specific security vulnerabilities that are relevant to the application. There are several code analysis tools available on the market, each with its own features and characteristics. Some of the main tools include:

  • SonarQube

Helps in the recognition of problems that the source code may be present: code smells, security or bugs. Developers are provided with an overview of code quality in various areas that need improvement and steps are taken to correct quality issues. SonarQube can be complemented in the development process so that quality standards are met at all stages.

  • VeraCode

Used by development teams, government organizations and companies worldwide to ensure that their applications and systems are safe from cyber-attacks and data leakage. In this tool, advanced static and dynamic code analysis security techniques have the main function of examining the system security and providing information on how to correct the vulnerabilities found.

  • Checkmark

Security vulnerabilities in software during development are identified and fixed. For this, a combination of static code analysis and dynamic testing is performed to recognize such vulnerabilities that can be SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS) and other common ones. Checkmarx provides integrations with version control tools, IDEs and build management systems, making it easy for teams to incorporate security analysis into their workflow. In addition, it provides detailed reports and monitoring of the vulnerabilities correction process. Ultimately, its goal is to enable organizations to keep their applications safe from attacks, while accelerating software development.

  • Fortify

It has a wide variety of features to improve system security, including integration with development tools, like IDEs and version control systems. The platform has an intuitive user interface so that developers can easily understand vulnerabilities in their source code, as well as reports that track the progress of fixing vulnerabilities. Fortify also supports compliance with industry security standards such as PCI DSS and can be used by organizations to meet regulatory requirements. The goal is to help these organizations build secure software from the ground up, reducing the risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks.

These SAST tools, among many others, ensure that software meets security and compliance standards, helping to identify whether source code contains sensitive information or does not comply with corporate security policies. Furthermore, it helps in increasing the efficiency of the development team, allowing developers to focus on writing code and not have to spend time and resources manually searching for security vulnerabilities.

Important to Know!

SAST enhances the security of a system in many ways by finding vulnerabilities before the system is released and fixing them, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security threats.

While it is a useful technique to improve quality, it must be remembered that SAST is not a complete solution to all software security issues, as it can point out known vulnerabilities but does not detect emerging threats. Some challenges are presented, such as dealing with the large amount of data generated by the analysis, which can make it difficult to recognize the most critical problems, the existence of false positives and negatives that impair the effectiveness of the analysis. For these challenges to be overcome, it is important to have a concise code analysis strategy that takes into account the objectives and limitations of the technique.

Software security is an ongoing process, and static code analysis should be seen as part of a broader method of assuring software security.

Overall, SAST is a valuable tool for developers looking to protect the security of their products. By relating SAST to other system security techniques and taking a comprehensive approach, developers create more secure and reliable products for their users.

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