What to Take into Consideration When Choosing a SAST Tool for Your Business

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SAST is now an indispensable resource for maximizing source code security and mitigating cyber risk. SMEs can benefit immeasurably from writing, maintaining, and implementing static application security testing. 

Recall that open-source or first-party code is a high-priority target for hackers. Cybercriminals routinely probe apps for vulnerabilities, some known, others unknown. Indeed, a dramatic uptick in ransomware attacks has occurred since the pandemic. This resulted from a massive and unprecedented shift to remote work, offering many platforms on IoT devices and the accompanying security weaknesses.

Many SMEs are held hostage to ransomware syndicates, preferring to pay the extortionists than risk losing their valuable data, credibility, and clients. Indeed, there are lags between the time a vulnerability is detected and the patch is implemented. Cybercriminals exploit these windows to implement their nefarious schemes. When choosing a SAST tool for your business, it’s essential to understand precisely what it entails and what attack surfaces it protects. Security is sacrosanct, and all source code and software must be protected. 

SAST is defined as Static Application Security Testing. This type of service, or resource, is capable of deep-scanning your applications’ binary code or source code. It is a white box solution and scans the source code for security flaws and known weaknesses. Many of the top-ranking SAST solutions focus on threats based on severity. 

The more dangerous the threat to your source code and applications, the higher its priority. Remember, SAST does not analyze apps in runtime. This tool works with static code. Typically, they use AppSec (application security teams), but individual developers invariably use it. By offering solutions for line of coding weaknesses and vulnerability scanning, SAST allows developers to identify, detect, and correct problematic source code.

Making SAST Work

Identifying the right SAST tool in application security is crucial for strengthening the software development lifecycle against cybersecurity threats. The tool’s capability to seamlessly blend into Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) workflows is essential to this selection process. This facilitates automated security assessments without disrupting the development pace. 

For developers or security consultants seeking to deepen their understanding of SAST tools’ integration and automation features, the 2024 Ultimate SAST Guide for CISOs, AppSecs, and DevOps offers comprehensive insights. Available at a leading AppSec Knowledge Hub, this guide sheds light on the strategic role of SAST solutions. It is particularly effective in early vulnerability detection and mitigation, underscoring their importance in minimizing the attack surface and embedding security into the heart of development processes.

Practically speaking, SAST tools identify many false positives. Developers may ignore these and focus on a handful of outcomes. The time it takes to complete the scan varies from one SAST system to the next. Since they operate in a silo style fashion, along with other security systems like SCA, SAST tools are part of a hybrid security network for safeguarding company software, functionality, credibility, and data integrity. 

Viewed in perspective, it’s important to identify the key criteria when selecting a SAST system. We briefly examine several such elements, notably the accuracy of a SAST resource, the performance of SAST systems with other security tools, developer usage of SAST solutions and versatility in terms of language coverage etcetera.

The Accuracy of SAST Systems

Accuracy is sacrosanct with any security tool. Those generating a high rate of false positives should be avoided. Not only are they disruptive to security development, but they flag way too many potential faults, detracting from the efficacy of the security team’s performance. SAST resources incapable of identifying vulnerabilities and source code errors are doing a disservice to developers; they don’t identify the threats. However, those that flag too many non-errors are inefficacious to the extreme and wasteful of resources.

The Performance of SAST Systems

Recall, most of the source code that apps run on is from third parties. Many apps also use a variety of APIs for all sorts of services. Open-source repositories usually bundle data into packs. This practice delivers single lines of code, making it easier for developers who would otherwise spend excessive time integrating payment modules and GIS handling systems. 

Effective SAST systems work hand-in-hand with security tools to scan and monitor all parts of applications. Recall Software Composition Analysis as a case in point.

Developer Usage of SAST Solutions

It’s critical to have static application security testing systems that are easy to learn to use. The requisite number of users should use the tools to determine the overall difficulty level. Effective SAST tools should minimize repetition and maximize easy-to-understand workflow. Also, SAST tools offering too many false positives should be customized (or at least be able to be customized) to direct alerts to the appropriate security team members. Burdening everyone with false positives is a hard no.

Versatility and Language Coverage

App development teams typically use a variety of languages. Do the SAST resources provide coverage for all of these languages? Ideally, a single SAST tool is better suited to application security, but sometimes that’s not feasible. Beyond the number of languages in use, due consideration must be given to the quality of language coverage. 

Language includes Python and Java, .Net, and others. If your SME plans to add additional languages, they should be factored into the equation regarding SAST selection.  Naturally, other considerations are also important such as how quickly SAST systems complete scans, maintenance of these systems, ability of SAST systems to be updated, upgraded, integrated with other systems, etc.

Overall, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right SAST tool for your business. We have highlighted a handful of them in this guide.

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