1- Programming and Scripting Language Support.
The modern IT organization has complex development setups, with the various teams working with different programming and scripting languages, often in a cross-platform setup. It’s important to check that the static code analysis tools you are considering are capable of scanning the language/s your application has been made of, with the required platform compatibility.
2 – Vulnerability Detection Capabilities.
Organizations today are required to scan for sector-specific security standards. For example, all organizations processing/using credit-card information have to comply with PCI DSS, while health-care related organizations are required to follow HIPAA. Based on the sector you belong to, it’s paramount to check if the solution can scan for the security standard/s you need.
3 – Are Security Scan Queries/Rules Customizable?
Application testing often needs customized security scan queries/rules to provide accurate results. Not having this feature can cause False Negatives (FN) to appear, eventually leading to the releasing of the application with lingering vulnerabilities. Hackers can then exploit these undetected vulnerabilities and cause extensive damage (data theft, denial of service, etc).
For example, if your organization has a unique sanitization method that it needs to test for, only customizable static code analysis tools can make this happen properly.
4 – Does it require a fully buildable set of source?
Many static code analysis tools require a build to be reached in order to start scanning. If you want your security solution to enter the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) earlier, your best bet is a source code scanner that doesn’t require a build to start working. While many open-source scanners can provide good results after the build is reached, earlier remediation provides better ROI.
5 – Can it be integrated into your developer’s IDE?
Static code analysis tools can be very effective, but have little to no value without the involvement of the developers in the organizations. The best way to achieve this crucial buy-in is to integrate the security solution into the developer IDEs and involve them directly in the security process. This is a crucial factor, if you want an effective long-term security solution for your organization.
6 – Can it be integrated into your Build Servers?
Also known as Continuous Integration (CI) servers, build servers are basically the regulators within the development process. They help the developers to define the frequency of the building, along with QA testing to ensure the functionality of the code. If your security solution is also built into these build servers, your remediation capabilities are significantly enhanced.
More and more organizations are using build servers such as Ant, Maven and Jenkins. It’s worth checking which static code analysis tools can be integrated into build servers. You can then define specific thresholds to stop the build when a medium or severe vulnerability is detected. This way you can stay on the top of things and enforce security protocols.
7 – Can it be integrated into your repository?
It has become important to integrate security into all the stages of development. One such crucial stage involves the Source Code Control System (SCCS), also known as the Version Control System (VCS), where changes to the code are recorded. Old versions can then be recalled as per the requirements with little overhead. Leading code analysis tools can be integrated here as well.
8 – Can it be integrated into your bug tracking tools?
Treating security as QA bugs is becoming common practice in the modern organization. This helps your developers get involved directly in the security process, while also raising their AppSec awareness. In other words, with the scanner integrated into your defect tracking system, you can see all QA and security flaws in one unified window. Another important application security functionality.
9 – Does it have the capability to scan third-party software components?
Modern web and mobile applications often third-party open-source components inside. Even flawless in-house developed application code is of no use if the third-party components are outdated or unsafe. This is why static code analysis tools that can investigate these open-source components enter the picture. Having this capability can help prevent the next high-profile hacking.
10 – Can it be integrated into DevOps/Agile/CICD?
Last but not the least, you have to filter out the static code analysis tools that are not suitable for Iterative Development scenarios (Agile, DevOps) or Continuous Integration (CICD) setups. This basically means that your scanner should be fast, customizable and should be able to reside within the SDLC, while providing accurate results with minimal False Positives (FP).
Another important functionality you should check for is Incremental Scanning. With this Agile/DevOps/CICD-friendly feature, your scanner doesn’t re-scan unchanged code. This significantly improves scanning speeds and blends into the dynamic nature of continuous development, where developers are constantly making small changes to the application code.
Sequential Design Process/Waterfall is becoming a thing of the past, along with old security techniques like Penetration (Pen) Testing and Manual Code Reviewing. While these application security methodologies can still be used as supplementary tools, there is little doubt that static code analysis tools are required for optimal security performance.