What Is Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and what are its main benefits?

Static Application Security Testing, commonly identified as SAST, is a category of Security Testing that analyzes the Application Source Code looking for indications of Security Vulnerabilities, having as a distinguishing characteristic the scan occuring before the application code is compiled. It is also known as White-Box Testing.

 

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SAST takes place at the beginning of the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDLC) helping developers to quickly identify and fix vulnerabilities, avoiding them in production releases.

Common practices are creating customized reports with the output of SAST tools and centralizing that information into dashboards.

SAST tools must be run on a regular basis preferably every time new code is released.

The steps to solidly run SAST are:

  1. Identifying a static analysis tool to perform code reviews of applications written in the programming language used by the team.
  2. Defining how the tool will be integrated with the application pipeline and deploying it accordingly.
  3. Customizing the tool to get the most accurate results from your organization’s applications, aiming to reduce false positives and identifying additional security vulnerabilities.
  4. Progressive and prioritized onboarding of your applications in the tool.
  5. Sharing the scan results after exterminating false positives.
  6. Analyzing improvement opportunities for awareness and training.

Benefits worthy of mentioning:

  • Detecting security flaws at earlier stages of the SDLC, allowing faster response.
  • Integrating into mature SDLC processes and tools like a Software Development IDE (Integrated Development Environment), Code Repository, Bug Tracking Solutions, and other Testing tools to guarantee better consistency and effectiveness.
  • Analyzing 100% of the codebase quickly in an automated fashion which would be impractical to do manually.

In my opinion, SAST should be a requirement for all teams creating quality software.