Marketing Glossary - Development - Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

What is Static Application Security Testing (SAST)?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a type of security testing that examines source code, bytecode, or binary code to identify security vulnerabilities without executing the program. It is often referred to as white-box testing, as it requires knowledge of the system's internals and operates from within the codebase.

Where is This Testing Used?

SAST is used throughout the software development lifecycle, ideally integrated during the early stages of development. It is particularly valuable in environments prioritizing secure coding practices and in industries where software security is critical, such as finance, healthcare, and government applications.

How Does it Work?

SAST involves:

  • Code Scanning: Automated tools scan the application’s source code to detect patterns that may lead to security vulnerabilities.
  • Rule-Based Analysis: The tools use predefined or customizable rules to identify potential security issues such as SQL injection, buffer overflows, and cross-site scripting (XSS).
  • Integration with IDEs: SAST tools are often integrated into Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) to provide real-time feedback to developers as they code.
  • Detailed Reports: The tools generate reports detailing vulnerabilities, including their severity and possible remediation strategies.

Why is Static Application Security Testing Important?

  • Early Detection: Allows for the early detection of vulnerabilities, reducing the cost and complexity of fixes later in the development cycle.
  • Improved Code Quality: Helps maintain high standards of code quality and compliance with security best practices.
  • Scalability: Can be automated and scaled across large codebases and multiple projects.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Assists in meeting regulatory and compliance requirements by ensuring code security before deployment.

Key Takeaways/Elements:

  • Pre-Execution Review: Analyzes code before it is executed, making it a proactive security measure.
  • Automation Capability: Highly automatable, allowing for regular and systematic security reviews.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Capable of scanning entire codebases for a wide range of security vulnerabilities.
  • Integrative Approach: Best used in conjunction with Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) for comprehensive coverage.

Real-World Example:

A software company developing financial services applications uses SAST tools to scan their products during development. This proactive approach allows them to identify and address a critical SQL injection vulnerability in their code before it progresses to later stages of testing or production, thus protecting sensitive financial data and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What are some common tools for Static Application Security Testing?

Popular SAST tools include SonarQube, Fortify, and Checkmarx, which offer comprehensive scanning capabilities for various programming languages.

How often should SAST be performed?

SAST should be performed continuously throughout the software development lifecycle, ideally with scans at every major code commit or as part of nightly builds.