SAST 101: The Basics of Static Application Security Testing

by in Security

What is SAST?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a frequently used Application Security (AppSec) tool, which scans an application’s source, binary, or byte code. A white-box testing tool, it identifies the root cause of vulnerabilities and helps remediate the underlying security flaws. SAST solutions analyze an application from the “inside out” and do not need a running system to perform a scan.

SAST 101.jpgSAST reduces security risks in applications by providing immediate feedback to developers on issues introduced into code during development. It helps educate developers about security while they work, providing them with real-time access to recommendations and line-of-code navigation, which allows for faster vulnerability discovery and collaborative auditing. This enables developers to create more code that is less vulnerable to compromise, which leads to a more secure application.

Why is SAST Important?

SAST is an essential step in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) because it identifies critical vulnerabilities in an application before it’s deployed to the public, while they’re the least expensive to remediate. It’s in this stage of static code analysis that developers can code, test, revise, and test again to ensure that the final app functions as expected, without any vulnerabilities. When SAST is included as part of the Continuous Integration/Continuous Devlopment (CI/CD) pipeline, this is referred to as “Secure DevOps,” or “DevSecOps.”

Analysis of Fortify on Demand (FoD) vulnerability data shows that 94% of over 11,000 Web applications contained bugs in security features, while code quality and API abuse issues have roughly doubled over the past 4 years (2019 Micro Focus Application Security Risk Report).

If these vulnerabilities are left unchecked and the app is deployed as such, this could lead to a data breach, potentially resulting in major financial losses and damage to your brand reputation.


How does SAST work?

SAST uses a Static Code Analysis tool, which can be thought of like a security guard for a building. Similar to a security guard checking for unlocked doors and open windows that could provide entry to an intruder, a Static Code Analyzer looks at the source code to check for coding and design flaws that could allow for malicious code injection. Some examples of these malicious attacks, according to OWASP, include SQL InjectionsCommand Injections, and Server-Side Injections, among others.

How is SAST different from DAST?

SAST tools are not capable of identifying vulnerabilities outside the source code. SAST looks at applications from the “inside out,” meaning it searches for vulnerabilities within a static environment. For example, vulnerabilities found in a third-party API would not be detected by SAST and would require Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST). You can learn more about DAST in this blog post, DAST 101: The What, Why, and How of Dynamic Application Security Testing.

What is a SAST tool that is well-suited for developers?

Micro Focus Fortify Static Code Analyzer (SCA) pinpoints the root cause of security vulnerabilities in the source code, prioritizes the most serious issues, and provides detailed guidance on how to fix them so developers can resolve issues in less time with centralized software security management.

It reduces security risks in applications by providing immediate feedback to developers on issues introduced into code during development.

Fortify Static Code Analyzer allows you to:

  • Code securely with integrated SAST
  • Quickly triage and fix complex security issues
  • Cover languages that developers use
  • Automate security in the CI/CD pipeline
  • Launch fast, automated scans
  • Scale your AppSec program

About Micro Focus Fortify

Fortify has recently been named a Leader seven times in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing  as well as named #1 in two use cases,  Enterprise and Mobile and Client, in the 2020 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Application Security Testing.

Fortify offers an end-to-end application security solution that secures and protects code throughout the entire development lifecycle of any type of software—from development to testing, release to production and every iteration in between. Fortify static, dynamic, interactive, and runtime security testing technologies are available on premise or on demand, offering organizations the flexibility needed to build an end-to-end software security assurance program.


Application security