Xygeni Security Glossary

Software Development & Delivery Security Glossary

What is SAST – Static Application Security Testing?

What is SAST? #

Static Application Security Testing (SAST): This involves the process of running security testing software that seeks out the vulnerabilities and malicious code from source code before an executable build. Known as white-box testing, SAST digs deeply into the codebase, somewhat like examining an application’s DNA to find flaws. This reveals that the possible vulnerabilities and malicious codes would be aiming to utilize such weaknesses. Therefore, SAST is a significant tool that can be used to make the application stronger against attacks to be exploited by attackers.

Relevance to Software Development and Security: #

The most important relevance for a fast-changing environment of software development is, of course, application security. Therefore, SAST assumes key positions, urging developer, security, and operation personnel collaborations for successful DevSecOps. Using SAST at the very beginning of the development lifecycle, it’s possible to quickly find and fix vulnerabilities, decreasing very high risks of infiltration of malicious code. This approach is important so the product can remain available, maintaining its integrity and confidentiality in a tough landscape of threats.

Related Best Practices or Strategies for Managing Associated Risks: #

  • Empowering Developers Against Malicious Code: Security-focused development practices will empower your team, giving them skillful abilities to exploit SAST tools effectively in this fight.
  • SAST tools should be integrated into a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline as early as possible. That is, it detects and fixes the vulnerabilities at the very early stages of the product development, which will allow one to do so-called ‘shift left’ for security. 
  • Continuous Scanning: Execute the SAST tools over your codebase regularly to catch any new vulnerabilities as they arise. Keep the scans automated in daily/monthly builds or code check-ins to maintain a secure codebase. 
  • Prioritize and Remediate: The vulnerabilities reported by SAST tools are numerous, and hence, after identification, they will have to be prioritized based on impact and severity. Remediation has to be prioritized after assessing the vulnerabilities and prioritizing them based on severity, which would be a continuation of effective risk management. 
  • Customization and configuration. Configuration of the SAST tool for your use cases and the context of your projects. This might include reducing the possibility of false positives and making the tool more effective for identifying security-relevant problems.
  • Training for Developers: Increases awareness of secure coding practices and the need for having a security motive during the time of code development. More knowledge helps in producing the work of coding securely and making SAST tools effective in this case.
  •  Review and Refine: Continuously review and refine your SAST process based on the feedback and evolving best practices of security. This is the iterative way to help ensure the security testing process is effectively adhered to. 
  • DevSecOps Friendly: Ensure the SAST tools are well integrated with your DevSecOps culture so that the development, security, and operations teams can easily work together to identify security risks and processes to mitigate them. 

Key FAQs on Static Application Security Testing #

What types of security vulnerabilities can SAST detect?

Most SAST tools identify vulnerabilities prone to SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), buffer overflow, and poor cryptographic practices.

Can SAST be used for all programming languages?

Although most SAST tools support a huge variety of programming languages, it’s very relative. Make sure you settle for a SAST tool with a comprehensive framework and language coverage for your project needs.

How does SAST contribute to DevSecOps?

Remaining a key DevSecOps technology, SAST encourages collaboration between development, security, and operations teams: it underpins the software development pipeline with continuous automated security testing, which enables the team to fix software vulnerabilities even as a part of work done periodically in the development process. 

Are there any limitations to using SAST tools?

Yes, SAST tools may also generate false positives and sometimes even false negatives, so that’s why manual verification is needed. Sometimes they do not understand the context of the application completely and hence miss some vulnerabilities at runtime, which will just appear once the application is run.

Conclusion: #

SAST is one of the most effective tools in the software security toolset: it allows the organization to reveal and eliminate potential vulnerabilities at a very early software life cycle stage. The organization’s application security posture can be hugely improved by bringing SAST into the software development life cycle. This is best managed through the best practices of early integration, continuous scanning, and developer training to manage those risks well and develop an application that is secure and trustworthy.

All these together not only ensure the application’s security but, with these best practices in application security, contribute to a more resilient software supply chain to add value for developers and stakeholders.

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