Application testing is a process that helps ensure the quality and safety of your software applications, whether the app is for a mobile or desktop device. Of course, it’s easy to understand why assessing & inspecting the security of an application can be beneficial. The process of testing can be used to find bugs and vulnerabilities, as well as to evaluate the overall security health of an application.
There are various types of testing that can be performed on an application, and the most popular ones are SAST, DAST, and IAST, but Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is one of the most effective ones.
Namely, SAST is a type of testing that analyzes an application’s source code rather than its binaries or executables. Many online security platforms like Mend SAST allow for an in-depth analysis of the application and can often find vulnerabilities that would otherwise be missed with other methods of testing.
What is SAST?
As we mentioned previously, SAST (Static Application Security Testing) is a type of security testing that analyzes your source code for vulnerabilities. This is in contrast to other forms of security testing, which focus on analyzing the behavior of running applications.
Regarding SAST, the method of testing can be used to find a wide variety of security issues, including SQL injection flaws, cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, and unsafe coding practices that could lead to buffer overflows or attacks.
Thus, most experts believe that SAST is an important part of any security program, as it can help find vulnerabilities that other types of testing might miss. For example, a web application firewall (WAF) will only be able to detect and block SQL injection attacks if the attacker uses a specific type of payload that the WAF is configured to look for. However, SAST can find SQL injection flaws regardless of the payload that is used, as it analyzes the source code to look for insecure coding practices.
Comparing SAST with IAST and DAST
As we mentioned above, SAST is one of three main types of application security testing. The other two are Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST).
In its approach, IAST is similar to SAST in that it also analyzes the source code of an application. However, IAST tools are typically used while the application is running in order to provide more accurate results. This can make IAST more intrusive than SAST, as it can potentially interfere with the regular operation of the app.
On the other hand, DAST is different from both SAST and IAST as it focuses on analyzing the behavior of an application rather than its source code. DAST tools work by directly sending requests to the application and observing its response.
Benefits of SAST
There are many benefits of using SAST to improve the security health of your application, including:
- Improved overall security: SAST can find vulnerabilities that other types of testing might miss. This means that your applications will be overall more secure.
- Reduced false positives: since SAST analyzes the source code rather than the binaries or executables, it is less likely to produce false positives than its counterparts.
- Easier to use: many SAST tools are easy to use and do not require a lot of training. This makes them ideal for organizations with somewhat limited resources.
- Faster results: Unlike DAST and IAST, SAST tools can often find vulnerabilities much more quickly than other types of testing like manual code reviews.
- Lower costs: SAST is usually less expensive than other types of testing, especially when comparing it to more intrusive methods like penetration testing.
The Effect SAST Has On Security
When it comes to testing the security of an application, SAST is an integral part of the security assessment, as it can find vulnerabilities testing methods might miss. Unlike other types of testing tools that can be used much later in the application’s software development lifecycle, SAST tools can test the security from the moment when the first lines of code are written.
This is why SAST has an incredibly positive effect on security – it can help the team of developers fix the problem even before it becomes one. For the vast majority of developers & applications, it is much easier to patch a vulnerability in its early stages and fix the line of code where it happens than to build a massive application only to remodel the code afterward.
We can conclude that SAST is incredibly beneficial & should be regarded as an essential part of the security assessment of an application. It can also help find vulnerabilities that other types of testing (like IAST and DAST) might miss, and it’s often faster and less expensive than its counterparts. So, if you are looking to improve the security of your applications, SAST is a great place to start.