What is SAST
March 17, 2020

What Is SAST? Overview + SAST Tools

Security & Compliance
Static Analysis

Software security is important to avoid the coding errors responsible for the majority of security vulnerabilities. And SAST tools have are essential to any software development process.

Here, we give an overview of what is SAST and explore what software vulnerabilities that these tools can detect.

What Is SAST?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a type of software security vulnerability testing. Also known as “white-box testing”, SAST tools — such as static code analyzers —  inspect and analyze an application’s code for security vulnerabilities.

These tools are crucial to software development. It detects vulnerabilities that leave systems open to:

  • Denial of service (DoS).
  • Leakage of private data.
  • Unauthorized changes to system behavior.

Static Application Security Testing is just one element of a complete automated security testing toolkit.

Other tools include:

  • Dynamic analysis security testing (DAST).
  • Fuzzing.
  • Software composition analysis.
  • Network vulnerability scanning.

However, a Static Application Security Testing tool should be used as the first line of defense.

[Related Resource: Everything You Need To KnowAbout Software Security]


What Kinds of Software Vulnerabilities Can SAST Tools Detect?

Some applications are more susceptible to security vulnerabilities than others. For instance, web, desktop/server, and embedded applications have different levels of risk. So do programming languages.

For example, cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are found in around 2/3 of all web applications. Embedded applications written in C are more likely to contain memory corruption bugs that make it possible to exploit the code.

So, it is important to use a software security tool that has been designed for your application type. 

Here are some of the most important vulnerabilities that are detected.

SQL Injections

SQL injection is a code injection technique. It's used to attack data-driven applications. The cyberattack enables cybercriminals to embed DQL commands with user-provided parameters.

Input Validation Attacks

An input validation attack is a security problem. It's caused by a trusted user identity and parameter input problems. This usually is a malicious action against a computer system. It involves manually entering strange information into a normal user field.

Stack Buffer Overflows

Stack buffer overflows are a common software vulnerability. Buffer overflow is caused when a program writes more data to a buffer located on the stack than what is actually allocated for it. 

Buffer overflow can also be caused deliberately as part of an attack known as “stack smashing”. Stack buffer overflow often leads to the corruption of adjacent data on the stack. And, in some cases, it causes the program to crash or operate incorrectly.

Integer Overflows

Integer overflow occurs when an arithmetic operation — such as multiplication or addition — exceeds the maximum size of the integer type used to store it. When an integer overflow occurs, it can jeopardize a program’s reliability and security.

Top 10 Embedded Security Vulnerabilities

Discover what the top 10 embedded security vulnerabilities are. And learn how to protect against them. 

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Key Differences Between SAST and DAST

Static Application Security Testing and Dynamic Application Security Testing are both types of security vulnerability testing. The key difference between the two is that Static Application Security Testing tools inspect code for vulnerabilities early in development. While Dynamic Application Security Testing toolstest applications for vulnerabilities late in development. Both are important and complement each other.

When to Use SAST

Use a Static Application Security Testing tool to spot vulnerabilities each time the software is built or packaged. However, some Static Application Security Testing tools — such as Klocwork — also integrate into the developer environment. This helps you spot flaws as the developer is actively coding.

When to Use DAST

Use a Dynamic Application Security Testing tool to check for:

  • Vulnerabilities in business logic.
  • Issues introduced across multiple application tiers.
  • Issues created at runtime.

A Dynamic Application Security Testing tool runs against an executing version of a program or service. It typically executes a suite of prebuilt attacks to automatically simulate a human attacker.

Is One Better?

Each method is able to identify vulnerabilities that the other may not. But, one is not inherently better than the other. Use both for comprehensive software testing.

[Related Resource: SAST vs DAST: What's the Difference?]


Benefits of SAST Tools

There are many benefits, including:

Automated Vulnerability Detection

The tool examines the code continually throughout the development process and provides an in-depth analysis that identifies defects, vulnerabilities, and compliance issues in the source code.

Vulnerability Elimination

The best tools provide guidance on how best to address and eliminate vulnerabilities. This helps you ensure safe, secure, and high quality code.

Ease of Integration

The best tools easily integrate into a development team’s established toolset. This protects your development process from delays.

Development Velocity

These tools examine the code quality, which accelerates development velocity. This reduces the amount of disruption to the software development cycle.

Why Choose Perforce Software Security Tools?

Klocwork is the most accurate and trusted static code analyzer for C, C++, C#, and Java. It provides software development teams with the ability to automate source code analysis as the code is being written. And, Klocwork has been designed to easily scale to projects of any size.

What’s more, Klocwork’s Differential Analysis enables teams to perform very fast incremental analysis on only the files that have changed while providing results equivalent to those from a full project scan. This ensures the shortest possible analysis times.

In addition, Klocwork provides software developers with the following benefits:

  • Detecting code vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and rule violations earlier in development. This helps to accelerate code reviews as well as the manual testing efforts of developers.
  • Enforcing industry and coding standards, including CWE, CERT, and OWASP.
  • Reporting on compliance over time and across product versions.

See for yourself how Klocwork can help you identify security vulnerabilities earlier in development. Request your free trial today. 

Try Klocwork For Secure code