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How Static Application Security Testing (SAST) Secures Your Network


What Is Static Application Security Testing (SAST)?

Static Application Security Testing, often simply referred to as SAST, is a type of security testing designed to be implemented at the very early stages of the software development life cycle. It's a white-box testing methodology, meaning it examines an application's source code from the inside out. Unlike dynamic testing, which tests code while the program is in operation, SAST involves analyzing code when it's at rest.

The primary advantage of SAST is its ability to identify potential security vulnerabilities early on in the development process. This early detection allows developers to identify security issues before they become more significant threats. By integrating SAST into your software development process, you can ensure that your applications are as secure as possible from the get-go.


How SAST Works to Secure Networks

SAST works to secure networks in a variety of ways. It's a multifaceted methodology that includes early detection, comprehensive analysis, preventing data leaks and exploits, and reducing false positives. Let's delve into these aspects one by one.


Early Detection

One of the key strengths of SAST is its ability to detect potential security vulnerabilities early in the software development lifecycle. This is possible because SAST analyzes the source code of an application before it's even compiled. As a result, developers can identify and rectify potential security issues long before the application is deployed, reducing the likelihood of costly and damaging security breaches.


Comprehensive Analysis

SAST goes beyond merely identifying potential security vulnerabilities. It also provides comprehensive analysis of the identified issues, including their severity and the potential impact they could have if left unaddressed. This analysis assists developers in prioritizing their remediation efforts, ensuring they focus on the most critical issues first.


Preventing Data Leaks and Exploits

Data leaks and exploits are a significant concern for any organization. Through its thorough examination of an application's source code, SAST can identify potential avenues for data leaks and exploits, such as unsecured data transmissions or insecure storage practices. By identifying these potential weak points, developers can strengthen their applications' security and prevent data leaks and exploits.


Reducing False Positives

In the realm of cybersecurity, false positives can be a significant drain on resources. A false positive is when a security tool incorrectly identifies a harmless piece of code as a potential vulnerability. SAST helps to reduce the occurrence of false positives by only flagging issues that are genuinely problematic, freeing up resources and allowing developers to focus on real threats.


Implementing SAST to Improve Network Security: Step by Step

Choose the Right SAST Tool

The first step in implementing Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is to choose the right tool. This decision should be informed by a careful assessment of your business's specific needs and objectives. A comprehensive SAST tool should be able to identify and track a wide range of potential security threats, from SQL injections to cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

It's also important to consider the tool's capability to integrate with your existing development environment and processes. A good SAST tool should be able to seamlessly fit into your development pipeline, allowing for continuous testing and monitoring. Furthermore, the tool should provide comprehensive and easy-to-understand reports, enabling your team to quickly identify and address any detected vulnerabilities.


Integrate SAST into DevSecOps Pipeline

Once you've chosen the right SAST tool, the next step is to integrate it into your DevSecOps pipeline. This process involves embedding the tool into your development environment and setting it up to automatically scan your code for potential vulnerabilities during the development process.

Integration into the DevSecOps pipeline means that SAST becomes a part of your development lifecycle, not an afterthought. It allows for continuous scanning and testing, enabling your team to identify and address vulnerabilities as early as possible.


Define Security Policies

Defining clear and comprehensive security policies is a critical aspect of implementing SAST. These policies establish the guidelines and standards that your team should follow when writing and testing code.

Your security policies should clearly outline the types of vulnerabilities that your team should be looking for, as well as the steps to take when such vulnerabilities are detected. They should also provide guidelines on how to securely handle sensitive data and define the responsibilities of each team member in maintaining security.

Furthermore, these policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure their relevance and effectiveness. As your business evolves and new threats emerge, your security policies should adapt accordingly.


Maintain Logs and Audit Trails for All SAST Activities

Maintaining logs and audit trails for all SAST activities is another critical aspect of implementing SAST. These logs provide a detailed record of all security testing activities, including the vulnerabilities detected, the actions taken to address these vulnerabilities, and the results of these actions.

Audit trails are particularly useful for identifying patterns and trends in your security testing activities. They can help you identify recurring vulnerabilities, pinpoint weaknesses in your security strategies, and track the progress of your security efforts over time.


Complement Automated SAST Scans with Manual Code Reviews

While automated SAST scans are an essential part of your security strategy, they should be complemented with manual code reviews. Automated scans can identify a wide range of potential vulnerabilities, but they can also miss certain types of issues that can only be caught by a human reviewer.

Manual code reviews involve a team member thoroughly examining the code to identify potential vulnerabilities. This process allows for a deeper understanding of the code and can uncover more nuanced issues that automated scans might miss.


Occasionally Engage in Penetration Testing to Simulate Real-World Attacks

Lastly, occasionally engaging in penetration testing is a valuable strategy to complement your SAST efforts. Penetration testing involves simulating real-world attacks on your system to identify potential vulnerabilities.

This type of testing provides a different perspective on your security, as it allows you to see how your system would fare against an actual attack. It can help you identify vulnerabilities that might not have been caught during the SAST process and provide insights into how these vulnerabilities could be exploited.


Conclusion

In conclusion, implementing Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a crucial step towards ensuring optimal network security. By choosing the right SAST tool, integrating it into your DevSecOps pipeline, defining clear security policies, maintaining logs and audit trails, complementing automated scans with manual code reviews, and occasionally engaging in penetration testing, you can significantly enhance your security and protect your business from potential threats.


Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.




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