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Security testing is an essential part of the software development process. The software applications you develop shouldn’t have any security weaknesses that can be exploited by hackers and lead to denial of service, loss of data, or any similar incident. To avoid such issues, you need a tool that can detect and remove bugs right from the time you start building a product and not after the product is completely developed.
Static application security testing (SAST) software can help identify security vulnerabilities in the source code of applications throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The tool is mostly used by development, DevOps, and security teams to find and fix security issues during the application coding and designing stages.
Given the many options available on the market, deciding which software to choose can be confusing. In this buyers guide, we’ve provided all the information you need to make the right purchase decision for your business needs.
Here’s what we'll cover:
- What is static application security testing software?
- Common features of static application security testing software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits of static application security testing software
- Market trends to understand
What is static application security testing software?
SAST software, also known as white box testing software, is an application security tool that analyzes an application’s source, byte, and binary codes to identify security vulnerabilities without actually executing the codes. It’s used during the coding and designing stages to scan applications, in a non-running state, for security flaws.
SAST software generates vulnerability warnings or triggers about errors introduced in application codes during the development process. It also offers recommendations to improve the codes and helps detect vulnerabilities such as authentication errors and policy violations early on in the development process.
Common features of static application security testing software
|Application security||Scan application codes to identify critical vulnerabilities and protect applications from threats such as unauthorized access, credential thefts, and code or data tampering.|
|Real-time analytics||Get insights into the security posture of application codes. Analyze the scan results in real time to help developers detect and fix issues without delay.|
|Vulnerability scanning||Identify configuration or coding flaws that can be exploited by hackers or other miscreants to compromise the app you’re developing.|
|API||Integrate the SAST software with your existing tools and processes such as bug tracking software and your integrated application development environment.|
|Dashboard||Use a centralized dashboard to track the status of application testing during each phase of the SDLC. Access all vulnerabilities and code flaws in a single view and track them over time.|
|Debugging||Detect and fix code errors (also known as bugs) that can cause apps to behave unexpectedly or crash. These errors can be buffer overflows, input validation and scripting errors, or SQL injection attacks.|
|Integrated development environment||Provide programmers and developers the tools they need to automate the software development process. Allow them to access source code editing, debugging, and multilingual coding capabilities using a single platform.|
|Deployment management||Manage the complete process of planning, designing, building, testing, and releasing new software products for end users.|
|Multilanguage scanning||Scan various coding and scripting languages, along with commonly used frameworks, to find errors that can lead to bugs. Programming languages include Java, Python, and Ruby, whereas development frameworks include Eclipse and Visual Studio.|
What type of buyer are you?
Before evaluating SAST software options, you should assess the kind of buyer you are. The majority of buyers in this market belong to one of these categories:
- Solopreneurs: Buyers in this category include independent or freelance software developers who work on a variety of projects, ranging from simple to complex app development, based on client requirements. Therefore, they need access to multiple code libraries to address the needs of customers from different industries.
Such buyers should opt for a SAST solution that offers an extensive code library to scan various programming languages independently. A tool with customization capabilities would be a good fit for them, as it would allow them to incorporate custom rules or write new rules, based on their client’s industry, to find security vulnerabilities in the applications they develop.
- Businesses: This category includes companies that have a dedicated team of developers and application security monitoring staff. These businesses work on multiple projects simultaneously, building applications that comply with security, quality, data protection, and safety standards.
These buyers should opt for a SAST tool that can scale well and run on software written in a variety of languages. A fully featured solution with multilanguage security vulnerability scanning, issue management and remediation, and flexible deployment options would suit the needs of buyers in this category.
Benefits of static application security testing software
Below is a comprehensive list of benefits you can expect from implementing SAST software:
- Real-time security testing: A SAST tool ensures security right from the start of the application development process. It detects vulnerabilities in real time during the application design and coding stages—when issues are easier to mitigate—rather than after the entire product is developed. This helps prevent security weaknesses that may become a big problem once the application is released.
- Integration with existing tools: SAST software can integrate with the tools you already use, such as bug tracking software and source repositories. It can also integrate with your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CICD) pipeline, allowing developers to make code changes more frequently and quickly. This capability ensures continuous monitoring of application codes, making software delivery faster and more secure.
- Less costly to fix vulnerabilities: SAST software can detect a security risk or potential vulnerability during the early stages of the SDLC. It identifies bugs early on in the development process rather than after a product is completely built. This helps save money because fixing errors post development requires additional investment since the developers will have to start from scratch again.
Market trends to understand
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help improve static code analysis: Besides detecting vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC, AI-driven SAST tools can also suggest solutions to the identified issues. They can do so by using logical programming rules or ML algorithms to process vast amounts of codes and quickly identify patterns of changes that occur in the codes. The technology is capable of improving speed and accuracy in providing insights when codes are written. The continuous learning capability of an ML-driven SAST tool can also reduce false-positive error reports.
Note: The application selected in this article is an example to show a feature in context and is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.