Appsec Knowledge Center

Shift-Left Security: Integrate SAST Into DevSecOps Pipeline

6 min.

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Why SAST And DevSecOps Go Together

DevSecOps as a mindset and philosophy can be a powerful evolution in the journey of shifting security left. However, a DevSecOps program is only effective if developers and security personnel have access to the right tools.

In practice, this means integrating tools like static application security testing (SAST) to ensure that developers are creating secure applications within the software development lifecycle.

DevSecOps teams would use SAST to ensure that the applications being created are as secure as possible, validating code as written against known vulnerabilities and weaknesses that threat actors could exploit to use the application in their attacks. Because DevSecOps considers security throughout the entire development process, a SAST tool for static code analysis ensures that they can deliver the most secure application possible.

The Value Of DevSecOps In AppSec

Secure application development is critical. An application that includes an obvious weakness is an application that cybercriminals will use as part of their attack chain. This is why integrating security into the software development lifecycle is so important in modern software development. It’s also why the discipline of DevSecOps has become so common in the past few years.

It’s much more efficient to do security testing as code is being written rather than bolting it on at the end where mitigating vulnerabilities is a lot more challenging and expensive. DevSecOps integrates and automates security into the DevOps process rather than after code is completed, reducing voluminous and unmanageable numbers of alerts to fix which leads to developer fatigue.

DevSecOps brings cybersecurity in from the beginning of code development and throughout the DevOps SDLC by using static code analysis and testing. These practices find vulnerabilities before the code is completed, leading to malicious attacks like SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS), buffer overflows, cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and others.

Without a secure SDLC using static code analysis, there’s no assurance that an application is released without security vulnerabilities. When DevSecOps processes are integrated with the DevOps process and use the same processes and automation, development time is reduced and security is much stronger since it’s been integrated throughout the process.

The Benefits And Challenges Of DevSecOps – Shift-Left

Newly discovered application vulnerabilities are still increasing every year and attackers seek low-hanging fruit, so security breaches of sensitive data and malware infections continue to increase. DevSecOps automated static application security testing throughout the DevOps process drives shift-left strategies and gives security leads confidence that they’re delivering secure applications.

Businesses have discovered that the total cost of fixing a vulnerability in an application that’s in production is expensive and creates a risky threat vector. DevSecOps drives shift-left security to reduce those issues during the SDLC, which reduces risks and costs to fix vulnerabilities later when the application is completed or in production. It also reduces security breaches of sensitive customer and business data that could have far-reaching expenses and impacts.

Some challenges for DevSecOps testing are that security processes create hurdles in the application development process, and DevOps priorities are releasing applications on time with as few bugs as possible. Security can slow down that process and can be seen as an obstacle, but over time, the static application security testing and analysis tools automated functionality and integration into DevOps processes and infrastructure makes adoption easier, making code more secure.

The Best Tech Stack For DevSecOps

Following is a list of tools used for code analysis that enables DevSecOps to find vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC and in pre-production environments that interact with other systems. Ongoing code testing prevents threat gaps and the high costs of fixing problems after applications are completed:

  1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)/Static Code Analysis (SCA) does not execute the code that’s being tested for vulnerabilities, so they can easily be incorporated into DevOps continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) workflows.Integration with centralized CI/CD pipelines means that security is part of every stage of the SDLC. CI/CD static code analysis adds automated security, validation and authentication to the DevOps pipeline by testing code before release. With application code security testing as part of the development process, pre-release testing requirements are reduced since problems are remediated continuously.
  2. Dynamic Application Security Testing identifies vulnerabilities and analyzes code in a pre-production environment that SAST can’t find because it looks at portions of code without executing it. The parameters of testing are changed to spot vulnerabilities like sensitive data sent in clear text or authentication and authorization gaps.
  3. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) looks for vulnerabilities as the application interacts with other systems through sensors within the application. IAST solutions are used to find issues with code in a running application in a pre-production environment to find issues and mitigate problems before production. The sensors help trace data through the flow of the session to identify vulnerabilities as the application runs with other systems.

How SAST Integrates Security Into Application Development

DevSecOps tests code with static application security testing tools to eliminate vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC that can lead to security gaps. So it’s important to use automated SAST processes that integrate with existing CI/CD tools to simplify the development process for developers and increase the chance that they will use it.

Many DevOps team members don’t feel equipped to effectively integrate security into the development process thoroughly to avoid vulnerabilities, but they’re not trained to make code secure. Automated SAST finds coding issues like programming errors, authentication gaps, etc to detect security vulnerabilities.

SAST tools can import projects from all major source code management systems (SCMs) and bug trackers, flag poor coding practices, and automate scan schedules to prevent misalignment between scanned codes.

SAST tools automate application backlogs and project on-boarding for a better user experience to improve confidence in developers’ experiences with uncovering vulnerabilities that could lead to threats. SAST tools have in-line teaching tools to train DevOps and DevSecOps as they go, which improves the accuracy of scan results, reduces false positives, and allows them to mitigate faster with targeted remediation information.

Presets and queries are other ways DevSecOps can reduce time in configuring SAST, with customized scans for precise identification of vulnerabilities of critical vs false-positives. Meaningful results save AppSec teams time and effort to identify and fix vulnerabilities, which vastly improves DevSecOps confidence and experience to avoid alert fatigue.

The Benefits And Limitations Of SAST

The benefit of using code testing and analysis tools during code development is that application threat vectors like buffer overflows, syntax errors, malware injections, social engineering, and DDoS attacks are identified and fixed early in the development process.

When to Use SAST Over Linting, DAST, SCA? Linting is static code analysis in its most basic form that DevOps uses to identify incorrect naming, formatting issues, syntax errors, stylistic errors, etc without having to execute code and without changing how they develop code.

SAST tools identify vulnerabilities by deep analysis across code that’s beyond standardized code testing that linting tools wouldn’t be able to find. SAST tools were made to identify problems in complex codebases for large application code development projects.

Corporations have determined that the budget hit to setting up reliable secure code analysis and testing in DevOps and DevSecOps is less of a concern than reducing application threat risks.

SAST configuration time, false-positives, manual intervention, and tuning are time-consuming. However, the costs of remediating application security issues after the code is completed, and dealing with the subsequent cybersecurity gaps are much more expensive when application development is completed or after an attack.

SAST is applied to source code and doesn’t execute the code it’s scanning, but DAST and IAST tools are used to test applications in pre-production and how they work with other systems to identify vulnerabilities like misconfigurations that only show security gaps at runtime.

Mature organizations use SAST, DAST and IAST for the highest level of application security to avoid breaches and cyber attacks that could bring down their business and to maintain cybersecurity compliance mandates and best practices.

Conclusion: SAST’s Role In Empowering DevSecOps

To beat cyber attacks in applications, before they become a problem on the network, vulnerabilities have to be addressed during code development through integrated SAST tools for DevSecOps to test and measure security before being put into production.

By using SAST, DevSecOps can confidently approve an application as secure before releasing it for production because they know that security has been integrated and tested at every stage of the code development process and problems were fixed as they were identified.

By integrating SAST into developers’ existing CI/CD tools and workflows, they can continue to work in the way that works for them, to make sure security is integrated at every stage of creating and deploying software. By providing DevSecOps the tools they need to develop secure code at all stages of the SDLC, it becomes a part of the teams’ focus and increases security by identifying code issues and remediation paths that save them time and make their job more enjoyable.

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