Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a software testing technique that aims to identify security vulnerabilities in an application’s source code before it is deployed. SAST is performed at an early stage of the software development lifecycle and helps to find and fix security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. Using static analysis tools during code reviews, and integrating them in your CI/CD pipeline is a code review best practice and helps to improve the reliability and security of applications, as well as to reduce the manual inspection time during code reviews.
When to use SAST
- During development: SAST can be used throughout the development process to identify and fix security vulnerabilities early on, reducing the risk of these issues being introduced into the production environment.
- As part of a security audit: SAST can be used as part of a security audit to check an existing application’s source code for security vulnerabilities.
- Before deployment: SAST can be used to check the source code of an application before it is deployed, to ensure that it does not contain any security vulnerabilities that could be exploited in the production environment.
How to perform SAST
- Prepare the code: The source code of the application should be made available for analysis.
- Choose a SAST tool: There are many SAST tools available, each with its own features and capabilities. Choose a tool that best fits your needs and the specific requirements of your application.
- Configure the tool: Set up the SAST tool, including configuring any custom rules or security policies that need to be enforced.
- Run the SAST analysis: Start the SAST analysis by running the tool on the source code. The tool will scan the code and identify any security vulnerabilities or code issues.
- Review the results: Review the results of the SAST analysis to identify any security vulnerabilities or code issues.
- Fix the vulnerabilities: Fix the security vulnerabilities by making the necessary changes to the source code.
- Repeat the analysis: Repeat the SAST analysis until all security vulnerabilities have been fixed.
SAST during code review
To automate the process of identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities in the source code, SAST can be integrated into the code review process.
SAST tools can be integrated into the code review process, allowing for automated scanning of code changes before they are committed to the repository. Automating the security analysis reduces the time and effort required for manual code review. In addition, static analysis tools are often much more reliable to find certain security issues. Another benefit of integrating SAST into the code review process is that security assessments can be performed continuously, ensuring that security vulnerabilities are detected and fixed as soon as they are introduced. It also helps to improve collaboration between developers, security teams, and stakeholders by providing a clear and comprehensive report of security vulnerabilities and code issues.
Shifting security left
Shifting security left refers to the practice of integrating security considerations into the early stages of the software development lifecycle, rather than waiting until later stages when it may be more difficult and expensive to address security issues. Integrating Static Application Security Testing (SAST) during code reviews performed by developers is a key aspect of shifting security left, as it allows security vulnerabilities to be identified and fixed as soon as they are introduced into the codebase.
Checkmarx: Checkmarx is a comprehensive SAST tool that provides advanced code analysis capabilities, including support for multiple programming languages, deep code scanning, and a user-friendly interface.
SonarQube: SonarQube is a popular open-source SAST tool that provides automatic code analysis and reporting, including support for multiple programming languages, integration with multiple tools and platforms, and an extensive library of custom rules and plugins.
Veracode: Veracode is a cloud-based SAST tool that provides a complete suite of security solutions, including support for multiple programming languages, automatic scanning and reporting, and integration with popular development tools.
Fortify: Fortify is a SAST tool that provides advanced code analysis capabilities, including support for multiple programming languages, deep code scanning, and integration with popular development tools.
Synopsys: Synopsys is a SAST tool that provides deep code analysis and reporting, including support for multiple programming languages, integration with popular development tools, and a user-friendly interface.
Coverity: Coverity is a SAST tool that provides deep code analysis and reporting, including support for multiple programming languages, integration with popular development tools, and a user-friendly interface.
Static analysis tools and security scanner
- Codiga: Customizable static code analysis that works in your IDE, CI/CD pipelines and more
- CodeQL: Semantic code analysis engine to detect security vulnerabilities
- PMD: An extensible cross-language static code analyzer
- Semgrep: Security scans during continuous integration
In conclusion, SAST is an important technique for improving the security of applications. By identifying security vulnerabilities in the source code before deployment, SAST helps to reduce the risk of these issues being exploited in the production environment. SAST is performed by using a SAST tool to scan the source code and identify security vulnerabilities, which are then fixed by the development team.
Learn also about dynamic application security testing, equip yourself with an awesome secure code review checklist, and read about the 10 best code review tools.