What is Static Application Security Testing?
Static Application Security Testing tools check the code in applications for flaws and vulnerabilities, such as the ones listed in the OWASP Top 10.
SAST is a software tool for software developers that makes it easier to test applications. It provides speedier vulnerability discovery and mitigates many common software vulnerabilities.
Security services need to be completed in minutes, instead of days or weeks, which makes SAST an excellent addition to any development team’s arsenal.
Why should you integrate SAST into DevOps?
Many security systems are designed with a test execution time in mind.
When moving to continuous integration and continuous delivery (a practice where an entire software development cycle is run on a continuous basis without break), this can cause real harm because of the extra time needed to perform the security checks.
SAST makes it possible to perform operations in parallel (i.e. execution of one task after another without blocking other related tasks) so that the entire security process doesn’t pause.
Since SAST tools test at the source code level, developers can implement them early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), fixing flaws before they become issues.
SAST or DAST? When to use each one?
Both SAST and DAST are application security testing tools that can find security vulnerabilities across the development cycle. What’s the difference between them?
SAST Is considered a white box method of testing, meaning it checks the application at the source code level.
DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) is a black-box method, thus it scans the application while running.
There are other differences among both methods, as we explain in the table below:
Finds vulnerabilities earlier in the development lifecycle
Discovers vulnerabilities only after the development cycle is complete
Can discover only code-related vulnerabilities.
Can discover run-time vulnerabilities.
Supports multiple types of software, including web services, thick clients, and web applications.
Only scans apps like web applications and web services.
Faster and cheaper to remediate vulnerabilities.
Remediation only happens after the cycle.
Which one should you use?
In reality, both solutions complement each other. Since they are different testing approaches with different benefits, when you use both types, you will get a more complete vulnerability assessment.
Tips to improve security testing
Application security is a key part of enterprise security. Running the right application security tools is just a part of securing applications along the pipeline.
Here are some steps that can help achieve a more secure code production:
1.) Use a secure scorecard framework
The Secure Scorecard Project was established by the Open Source Security Foundation as a practical framework for checking vulnerabilities in projects.
It consists of eighteen checks that you run against open-source projects for security controls. This framework gives you a quick checklist of pass/fail controls in the form of a scorecard.
2.) Continuously monitor for vulnerabilities
To effectively get full coverage on vulnerabilities, you need to continuously monitor for new risks.
Attackers constantly look for vulnerabilities to exploit, so it is important to get to them first. Shift security left so you can catch and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
3.) Bake security testing into the pipeline
This is part of the shift-left and DevSecOps approach. Integrate code analysis into the DevOps process by including SAST tools.
Since SAST identifies the flaws in the source code, you can detect vulnerabilities early and prevent them from being passed onto production.
Another benefit of including SAST into the workflow is that the automation saves engineers from having to leave the development environment to take care of security.
As a result, building SAST into the development pipeline ensures security without slowing the DevOps pace.
4.) Prevent insider threats with the principle of least privilege
The principle of least privilege is a security practice that ensures users have the least amount of access they need to complete their intended task.
For instance, you may limit a user’s permission to read or allow the user to edit. By limiting your user’s ability to change your code, you reduce the risk of internal threats that may insert malicious code.
There is a range of permissions you can grant to your developers:
Read: This permission allows the user to read the code but not to make any changes to it. It is a best practice to set this permission by default. Keep in mind these use cases to grant read-only access: non-coding collaborators, internal auditors, compliance checkers, and code reviewers.
Triage: This setup allows collaborators to manage issues in the code without needing to write changes into it. For instance, scrum masters, DevOps team members can pull requests and manage discussions.
Write: Since these permissions give users the capability of making changes to the code, they should be granted only to the developers working on a project. To ensure security, you can always limit the writing permission. For instance, preventing the erasing or restoring of packages, or merge pull requests.
Admin: This is the highest level of permission and should be limited as much as possible. Authentication and authorization measures need to be tighter around admins as they are privileged users and as such, an easy target to attackers.
Prevention of vulnerabilities is a critical aspect of application security. Deploying a SAST tool provides high visibility over the organization’s static code.
This type of application security testing can ensure you can detect vulnerabilities early in the development lifecycle and becomes a great addition to a security stack.
AST strives to meet a 3 STAR trustworthiness rating, based on the following criteria:
- Provides named sources
- Reported by more than one notable outlet
- Includes supporting video, direct statements, or photos