Appsec Knowledge Center

Security Posture Boost: 5 Steps To Effective Static Source Code Analysis

5 min.

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Why Static Source Code Security Analysis Is Important

Source Code Analysis, also known as  Static Application Security Testing (SAST), is a form of application testing that involves scanning an application’s source code at rest. It’s distinct from Dynamic Application Security Testing, or DAST, in that SAST doesn’t require executing the source code to scan for security vulnerabilities.

The main goal of a static source code analysis is to identify potential security vulnerabilities and flaws that could lead to a security breach in an application’s source code. Application security and DevOps teams use this approach in the software development process to prevent security issues from being introduced in the first place.

SAST is a vital part of the software development life cycle. Adding it into an SDLC ensures that the code that’s developed is as secure as possible, resulting in better applications and easier compliance with code standards.

To get the most out of SAST, there are five key steps that organizations need to follow. They include picking the right SAST tool, making use of presets, and remediating vulnerabilities.

Step 1: Choose The Right Source Code Analysis Tool

Not all static source code analysis tools are created equal. It’s crucial to pick the right SAST tool, as many of them routinely deliver a lot of false positives when their analysis runs. Application security teams should look closely at how the testing is conducted within each tool.

A few key questions to ask when choosing the right SAST solution are:

  • What languages are covered?

    Not every application security testing tool is able to analyze every programming language. Make sure that any SAST solution in consideration can analyze the language important to the enterprise.

  • Does it use regex pattern matching?

    SAST solutions that use regex pattern matching help validate that the code is accurate.

  • Does it also use data flow and control flow analysis?

    Data flow and control flow analysis ensure that developers understand how data flows in their applications as well as understand what the program control flow is on execution.

There are also SAST tools targeted toward different users, such as developers, application security, and CISOs. When choosing a SAST tool, it’s important to pick the one that’s most relevant for who is going to use it.

Checkmarx’s eBook on picking the right SAST tool can help with the decision-making process.

Step 2: Make Use Of Presets And Frameworks

Presets, also sometimes called rulesets, are pre-defined groups of rules that application security teams can apply to their scans. Presets can be designed to meet regulatory compliance requirements or be based on the type of code being scanned. These pre-defined rules help application security teams move faster in their testing because they don’t have to write net-new rules for testing.

Presets are designed to support major use cases such as regulatory compliance with standards like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FISMA, as well as meeting the standards of OWASP Top 10, OWASP Top 10 API, and CWE Top 25. Using these presets, in addition to presets focused on specific development types like mobile applications or web applications, ensures that AppSec teams move faster in their application testing. These predefined queries mean that testers don’t have to write net-new rulesets for testing.

On the other side of this are frameworks that ensure all possible code is scanned. In application security, a framework is a set of standards and processes that developers can follow to ensure they’re building the most secure application. Researchers and standard bodies might create these frameworks based on specific use cases, such as mobile apps or web applications. Developers can then use these to check against specific best practices in development.

Presets and frameworks can be used in multiple ways, such as when security teams want to scan deeply to uncover all the high, medium, and low vulnerabilities in a mission-critical application or if they want to scan widely to only surface the most critical weaknesses in an application. Ultimately, the point of presets and frameworks is to speed up application security scans and make SAST more efficient. Using presets and security frameworks can also reduce false positives and false negatives by providing guidance about what to look for in the code scan.

Step 3: Integrate SAST Into The Development Pipeline

Application security testing needs to be tightly woven into the software development lifecycle to derive the most value. Tying SAST into the development workflow and executing it regularly ensures that organizations can identify potential vulnerabilities early.

This includes scanning uncompiled code directly from repositories and integrating with IDEs to make it easier to run application testing. The key point here is to make it easy for developers to run SAST scans.

The developer experience should be paramount here. If AppSec teams can help developers prioritize vulnerabilities based on business impact, meet Devs where they live, and equip them with the right tools and knowledge, then applications will become more secure.

Get more tips to drive developer security adoption in our eBook.

Step 4: Static Source Code Analysis Results Triage

Depending on the depth or breadth of the SAST scan, it’s possible for there to be a high number of results. Not every vulnerability will have the same impact on the security of the application, and it’s vital for application security teams to have a process in place for analyzing and triaging the SAST scan results.

Building a process for easily analyzing the output of a SAST scan helps security teams identify the most impactful application weaknesses. Part of this also involves using the right preset or framework in the scan to identify vulnerabilities based on the specific goals of the scan. Analyzing and triaging these results effectively means that developers can find and fix the most significant weaknesses in the application.

Step 5: Remediate Vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities need to be remediated as quickly as possible once they’re discovered. After the results of the SAST scan are analyzed and triaged, developers should begin their work on resolving the most severe issues in the application. The best-case scenario here is if there is a best-fix location that makes multiple vulnerabilities disappear at the same time.

The best SAST solutions will offer remediation guidance to developers that includes identifying any possible best-fix location. Being able to find and remediate weaknesses quickly ensures efficiency and a more secure application.

If the SAST solution is part of a unified application security platform, that will provide even more value. A complete platform should provide a unified dashboard for application testing platforms such as SAST, software composition analysis, SCS, API security, DAST, IaC security, and Container security.


SAST properly deployed is incredibly beneficial to AppSec and development teams. It makes for more secure code and ensures that applications are protected against severe vulnerabilities that could open up the application to breach risk or compliance violations. Organizations would do well to follow the five steps outlined above to streamline their processes and ensure that they get the most out of static application security testing.

Checkmarx offers some of the most user-friendly and impactful SAST on the market today. To find out how we help enterprises build more secure code, check out our SAST solutions.

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