What is Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and Why Use It?

The growing number of cyber threats means organizations need to take a proactive approach to application security. They must minimize vulnerabilities that could allow their entire system to be compromised. Static Application Security Testing (SAST) solutions provide automation to inspect proprietary source code. This replicates manual code reviews that identify issues to fix systematically before attackers can take advantage of weaknesses and cause reputation damage or loss of customer data.

Top down view of mobile phones with code on the screen and scanning lines moving through it to represent SAST scanning source code for vulnerabilities
Static application security testing (SAST) solutions automatically scan application source code as part of the development pipeline, duplicating manual code reviews at rapid speeds to catch security issues.

How SAST Works to Enhance Security

SAST examines source code to duplicate the manual code reviews done in previous decades. It identifies security flaws in the same way but through scalable automation that can keep pace with today’s rapid DevOps release cycles. Manual reviews alone are no longer feasible at the speed at which new code revisions are deployed. SAST testing happens early while code is still being written to find vulnerabilities before applications are released.

Core SAST Capabilities

  • White Box Testing: SAST solutions examine the interior workings of source code intimately, understanding intricate code paths that black box testing cannot evaluate since it only views external behaviors.
  • Integration with Development Environments: SAST capabilities integrate seamlessly into popular integrated development environments like Visual Studio, Eclipse, and IntelliJ. This hardens software security continually with every code commit.
  • Finding Vulnerability Weaknesses: In addition to confirming passed test cases, SAST solutions intentionally input invalid, unexpected values to analyze how well the code handles errors and unexpected situations.
  • Repeatable Analysis: Automated SAST evaluations consistently scan new code revisions, monitoring security improvements quarter-over-quarter.

Common Threat Vulnerabilities

Exposing the following vulnerabilities poses reputation and compliance risks that organizations seek to minimize urgently:

  • SQL Injections: Permit unauthorized database access and manipulation, typically to retrieve sensitive personal identities and data.
  • Cross-Site Scripting: Open up redirection vectors allowing phishing exploits and cookie/session thefts.
  • Buffer Overflows: Overwhelm reserved memory locations allowing access to the underlying operating system.
    Read more about Software Vulnerabilities here.

Achieving DevSecOps with SAST

Mature SAST practices embed security-first thinking to ensure:

  • Earlier Defect Detection: Identify vulnerabilities earlier so fixes shift left, reducing costly late-stage remediations.
  • Automated Analysis Workflows: Seamlessly incorporate security testing into any build pipeline stage, scanning repetitively thereafter.
  • Risk Visibility Dashboards: Consolidate organization-wide application risk postures, evaporating reporting lags management previously waited for.
  • Developer Enablement: Provide actionable, prioritized guidance to improve secure coding techniques systematically.

Conclusion

With cybercrime damages possibly reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, inadequately secured applications pose severe risks to brands, data, and compliance. Integrating SAST solutions creates needed DevSecOps shifts to continuously scrutinize proprietary source code. This guards customer assets aggressively while minimizing breach liabilities. What remains are either accidents waiting to happen next or secure code assurances confirmed with confidence thereafter.

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