Appsec Knowledge Center

Effective SCA Tool: 7 Essential Features for 2024

4 min.

SCA Hero image

Today much of the technology we rely upon to build new applications, particularly cloud-native applications, utilizes Open Source Software (OSS).

But the sheer amount of OSS code now available makes it a labor-intensive task for development teams to manually track that code to ensure that it is safe and compliant for use.

Why Software Composition Analysis is the Cornerstone of Effective Application Security

This is where Software Composition Analysis (SCA) has become the cornerstone in not only maintaining software security, but also reducing OSS risk.

As organizations now increasingly rely on open source components, a dependable SCA tool and source code vulnerability scanner is an absolute necessity to protect the business.

In fact, choosing the right SCA tool is vital to identify OSS vulnerabilities because cybercriminals are also looking to exploit these vulnerabilities.

According to the Ponemon Institute the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over the last three years.

Therefore, in 2024, the value of SCA should not be underestimated if you are looking for reliability, speed, OSS vulnerability scanning and overall enhanced application security.

The Definition Of SCA

Gartner defines SCA as a technology that analyzes applications and related containers and registries to detect open source and third-party software components known to have security and functional vulnerabilities, that are out-of-date in terms of security patches, or that pose licensing risks.

SCA products and services help ensure the enterprise software supply chain includes only secure components and, therefore, supports secure application development.

Once a piece of OSS code has been identified, an SCA scan can determine whether there are any security threats or licensing information that requires attribution or policy compliance.

Its value lies in its ability to pinpoint and remediate vulnerabilities quickly, reducing the risk of exploitation.

The more advanced SCA tools, like Checkmarx SCA open source scanning, automate the entire process of managing OSS components and OSS vulnerability scanning.

How SCA Security Should be Used Throughout the SDLC

SCA tools also provide comprehensive information about the vulnerabilities they detect, so developers can easily fix any issues.

Additionally, SCA security can be used throughout the whole software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Gone are the days when organizations relied solely upon application security teams to test and undertake OS code scans and reviews at the point when the application goes into production; now there are several application security testing tools that allow developers to secure their code themselves.

These include static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), and SCA.

These tools empower individual developers, enriching the developer experience and enabling businesses to avoid any wasted time and money associated with reactive security approaches.

The Value of an SCA Solution

As mentioned above, SCA solutions provide indispensable insights into the security of open source components used in software projects.

Not only do they help identify known vulnerabilities, they also enable organizations to manage compliance with open source licenses, and suggest safer package versions, enhancing the overall security and integrity of software applications.

SCA software improves security by helping organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities in the software they use, thereby reducing the risk of security breaches and data leaks.

SCA security also helps organizations ensure that they are complying with legal and licensing requirements for the software they use, which can reduce the risk of legal issues and fines.

SCA security can facilitate better decision making by helping organizations make informed decisions about which software components to use in their applications, based on factors such as the component’s security, reliability, and compatibility with other components.

By identifying and managing the OSS components being used, organizations can more easily maintain and update their applications, which can improve efficiency and reduce costs.

And finally, SCA security can help organizations identify and fix issues with software components, which can improve the overall quality and reliability of their applications.


7 Essential Features of an Effective SCA Solution

Therefore, now that we have established the importance of SCA Software, SCA security and SCA scans, what essential features should organizations look for in a dependable SCA tool?

Which is why we also recommend utilization of not just SCA, but SAST and DAST, too – approaches that apply equivalent levels of analysis to the code your own developers are working on.

  • Open-Source License Management

A good SCA tool identifies the various open source licenses in use, ensuring legal compliance and avoiding potential intellectual property issues.

  • Known Vulnerability Detection

It’s crucial for SCA software to detect known vulnerabilities (CVEs), offering a foundational layer of security by identifying and addressing these risks. Checkmarx CX SCA supports open source analysis and open source code reviews.

  • Safe Version Recommendations

Advanced SCA solutions, like Checkmarx CX SCA suggest secure, updated versions of open source packages, thereby empowering developers to undertake proactive vulnerability management.

  • Vulnerability Remediation Difficulty Analysis

The best SCA tools assess the complexity involved in fixing a vulnerability, aiding developers in prioritizing security efforts effectively.

  • Container Scanning

With the rise of containerized applications, an SCA tool should have the capability to scan containers for open source packages, ensuring security in cloud-native environments. Checkmarx container security does this seamlessly.

  • Support for Supply Chain Security

SCA software and SCA security plays a critical role in software supply chain security, protecting organizations against both direct and indirect vulnerabilities caused by third-party partners.

  • Malicious Packages Versus Known Vulnerabilities

It is critical for developers to understand the difference between malicious packages and known vulnerabilities. Malicious packages are intentionally designed to exploit or harm systems, requiring sophisticated detection methods. In contrast, known vulnerabilities are typically unintentional security flaws that have been publicly documented.

Choosing the Right SCA Solution

When selecting SCA tools, SCA security and SCA software, organizations should consider factors such as the comprehensiveness of the vendor’s vulnerability database. Other factors that should be taken into consideration include the ease of integration with other tools and the solution’s user-friendliness, as well as its support for containerized environments.

Ultimately organizations should opt for a solution that balances advanced features with usability as a good developer experience is key to adoption. With the ever-evolving threat landscape, selecting the right SCA tool is crucial for the security and compliance of software projects going forward.

By focusing on key features and understanding the different types of threats and how to address them with SCA tools, organizations can more effectively safeguard their software supply chains and avoid an inevitable data breach.


Download our resource:
Software Composition Analysis: What to look for in a solution