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Open Source Vs. Premium SAST Tools: True Costs Of “Good Enough” Static Code Analysis Tools

7 min.

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The Enterprise Dilemma: “Good Enough” Vs Premium SAST Tool

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) secure coding practices are a vital part of cybersecurity threat prevention because these tools continuously look for vulnerabilities in code that can cause security gaps.

The SAST landscape is full of preconfigured and customizable options:

  • “Good enough” open-source SAST tools are written and updated by an informal community with no formal support teams. They have breadth and can be configured to find vulnerabilities in certain languages and to detect errors.
  • Premium enterprise SAST tools provide comprehensive solutions, automated static application security testing that integrates into IDE, DevOps workflows and pipelines. They offer presets to support major use cases and can find vulnerabilities across multiple files and compilation units. Remediation guidance helps identify the best fix location and can fix multiple vulnerabilities at once, which reduces the time to remediate.

Open-Source SAST Tools

Open-source SAST tools offer freedom, flexibility, and cost benefits for CISOs who try to avoid vendor lock-in and expensive licensing models.

The drawbacks of open-source SAST are:

  1. Unreliable security vulnerability updates since users are limited by what has been provided by the community and it may not be comprehensive or up to date.
  2. No formal developers or support means functionality for in-depth code and less-used programming languages.
  3. Can’t scale across multiple languages and frameworks.
  4. Development teams can’t take action on vulnerabilities found on open-source SAST tool scans because they don’t provide remediation suggestions.

Premium SAST Tools

On the other hand, the case for enterprises to use premium SAST tools for secure coding practices is strong, especially when we see the risks highlighted in the news of corporations that have suffered data breaches because of poor application security controls.

Premium enterprise SAST tools provide comprehensive solutions that integrate into most AppSec infrastructure and workflows, scale with your environment, and include robust support. But the biggest value is assurance that your application development and security testing is automated and enhanced with the latest features and updates to keep applications secure.

The drawbacks of Premium SAST are vendor lock-in due to time invested in front-end integration and licensing fees.

Enterprise SAST Tools Requirements

To find the right SAST tool for your business, start by evaluating your security posture and the three areas below, which may push you to functionality that’s only available with Premium SAST tools, like robust reporting:

  1. Maturity – Is your security team staying on top of vulnerabilities or are they too busy working on other high-severity security issues that prevent them from effectively testing applications for security gaps?
  2. Threat landscape – According to Positive Technologies, the “number of [web application] cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022 in comparison to the previous year and the number of attacks culminated in Q4 with 1168 weekly attacks per organization”. And that “on average, each application has 22 vulnerabilities, 5 of which are considered high risk”.
  3. Regulatory compliance – If you have compliance reporting requirements across code quality and security risk teams, premium SAST solutions have a comprehensive analysis process and additional tools such as dashboards or presets (i.e. set of rules).

Mapping SAST features to your needs helps with the decision-making process when you take an in-depth look at what your requirements are in these areas:

  1. Functionality – Are there major use case presets to save developers time to install and update? Can it be automated easily to work with existing infrastructure?

  2. Integration – Can it easily integrate into DevOps workflows, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, and Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)? Application security testing is simpler and easier when the process of checking code for bugs and remediating vulnerabilities is consolidated and integrated into existing development tools

  3. Scalability – Most businesses use multiple languages and frameworks, will it scale to your environment? Will your solution scale to a larger AppSec environment as you grow?

Analyzing team resources is another important factor in making your SAST choice. If you go with an open-source SAST tool, your DevOps/DevSecOps teams will need to have the technical expertise to fix all application security vulnerabilities across the infrastructure, without support.

If you don’t have AppSec training for developers or developer security training resources for that kind of customized solution, then a premium SAST solution would make sense so that your team can focus on other priorities. That will give you the assurance that your applications are secure, with the latest vulnerability updates.

SAST Tools Cost-Benefit Analysis: Open-Source Vs Premium

Assessing the True Costs of Open-Source SAST vs Premium SAST


Open-Source SAST

Premium SAST


-Freedom from vendor contracts

-Flexibility to run scans on structured/unstructured code

-Cost-effectiveness since open-source is free and updated by a community

-Code can be accessed and updated at any time

-Comprehensive, automated features

-Robust support

-Automated remediation suggestions

-Scalable solutions

-Trust that security vulnerabilities are identified/ordered by severity

-In-depth compliance reporting



-Lack of actionable information to help developers remediate found vulnerabilities

-Customization has to be done across all AppSec workflows and existing infrastructure

-Potential security risks by using a customized versus preconfigured SAST tool



-Licensing fees

-Maintenance contracts

-Vendor lock-in

Choosing The Right SAST Tool: A Strategic Approach

Considering these strategic issues will help you make the right SAST solution decision:


1. Prioritizing open-source SAST customization versus premium SAST preconfigured analysis, reporting, and integration solutions.

Open-source SAST can be tailored to fix things like code causing false positives. Premium SAST tools can also be customized but also offer automated detection of security vulnerabilities with remediation suggestions and full reporting functionality.


2. Ensuring Vendor Compatibility.

Does the SAST tool integrate with your other AppSec tools such as SCA, DAST, and API SecurityEnsure that your SAST tool is compatible with existing security vendor solutions and workflows.


3. Planning for the Future: Scalability, Support, and Long-Term Sustainability. 

Your SAST tool should be able to handle things like structured and unstructured code for different application development and security teams’ testing requirements. Premium SAST preconfigured capabilities offer comprehensive programming languages and frameworks to scale with your business.


4. Open-Source Scalability Challenges: Community Support, Maintenance Burden, and Feature Updates.

Open-source SAST tools don’t have guaranteed update schedules or feature improvements; it is all dependent on a community of users who improve it over time. Your SAST solution should have It should be able to scale to increasing applications, security initiatives and regulatory compliance requirements.


 5. Premium SAST Scalability Solutions: Vendor Support, Managed Services, and Enterprise-Grade Security.

If your team needs support and guidance with your SAST tool, premium SAST vendors have fully built-out support and consulting teams to make sure you get the fixes you need. The latest vulnerability updates are integrated into these tools, and prioritized for your environment. They also offer different delivery methods for solutions like managed services and add-on functions to address enterprises’ various AppSec infrastructure needs.


When choosing open-source SAST or premium SAST, balance your existing compliance and infrastructure requirements, resources available to remediate vulnerabilities as early in the process as possible, and the future needs of your different AppSec projects.


Whatever your application security testing needs are, choosing the right one for your business comes down to mapping SAST tool functionality to your environment.

Open-source tools may be inexpensive and good enough to complete important application security workflows, but unreliable security vulnerability updates and limited support, comprehensiveness, scalability, and actionable results may not be right for you.

Checkmarx SAST  is an enterprise appsec tool with comprehensive features, robust support, and scalable programming language and testing. Integrated, automated solutions give DevOps and DevSecOps teams the trust they need to know that they are detecting and fixing vulnerabilities that may have put your organization at risk.

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