5 Reasons You Need SAST to Secure Applications in 2023

SAST, or Static Application Security Testing, is a type of security testing that is designed to detect potential vulnerabilities in an application’s source code. It is typically performed at the earliest stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), even before the application is compiled. SAST examines the code at rest, meaning it does not require the application to be running to perform the analysis.

The primary benefit of static application security testing is that it enables developers to catch and fix potential vulnerabilities early in the SDLC. This early detection is crucial as it allows for more cost-effective and efficient remediation. Furthermore, the nature of SAST as a white box testing technique ensures that all parts of the application are tested, not just the parts that are functioning or visible during other forms of testing.

SAST tools, which are either rule-based or proprietary, work by scanning an application’s source code and comparing it against a database of known vulnerability patterns. When a match is found, the tool flags it for review. It is then up to the developer to assess the flagged code and determine if it is indeed a vulnerability that needs to be fixed.

Why Is SAST Important to Secure Applications in 2023? 

1. Evolving Threat Landscape

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and their methods of attack are becoming more diverse and complex. In this increasingly hostile environment, proactive security measures like SAST are more necessary than ever.

The continuous increase in the number of software applications being developed and used across various industries also means that there are more potential targets for attackers. The security of these applications can have far-reaching implications, affecting not just the organizations that develop and use them, but also their customers and the broader digital ecosystem.

Furthermore, the advent of new technologies and programming languages continually adds to the complexity of the threat landscape. As these technologies evolve, so do the possible vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Therefore, it is vital to employ robust security testing methods like SAST that can adapt and respond to these changes.

2. Shifting Security Left

In the past, security testing was often seen as the final step in the software development process. However, this approach has proven to be inefficient and costly, as vulnerabilities detected at this late stage can be expensive and time-consuming to fix. This realization has led to the adoption of the shift-left security paradigm, which emphasizes integrating security measures early in the SDLC.

SAST is a key component of the shift-left security paradigm. By enabling early detection of vulnerabilities, SAST allows developers to address security issues while the code is still being written. This not only leads to more secure applications but also results in significant cost and time savings.

The shift-left paradigm also encourages a culture of security awareness among developers. With SAST, developers become more mindful of the security implications of their code, leading to the development of more secure applications from the onset.

3. Regulatory Compliance

In addition to the ever-present threat of cyberattacks, organizations also face the challenge of complying with a growing number of regulatory requirements related to cybersecurity. These regulations often mandate specific security practices, such as regular security testing of applications.

SAST plays a crucial role in helping organizations meet these regulatory requirements. By providing a thorough and consistent method of security testing, SAST can provide the evidence needed to demonstrate compliance with various cybersecurity regulations.

By catching and fixing vulnerabilities early in the SDLC, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of experiencing a security breach that could lead to regulatory penalties.

4. The Move to DevSecOps

DevSecOps, a practice that integrates security into the DevOps process, is rapidly gaining traction in the software development world. By making security an integral part of the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, DevSecOps aims to ensure that applications are secure from the start.

SAST is a vital tool in the DevSecOps toolbox. By automating the process of security testing, SAST can be seamlessly integrated into the CI/CD pipeline. This allows for continuous security testing throughout the development process, leading to more secure applications.

In addition to helping achieve the security goals of DevSecOps, SAST also supports the efficiency goals of this practice. By catching vulnerabilities early and reducing the need for time-consuming remediation later in the SDLC, SAST can help keep the development process on schedule and within budget.

5. Cost Efficiency

One of the most compelling reasons for the adoption of SAST is its cost efficiency. By identifying security vulnerabilities early in the software development lifecycle, SAST can significantly reduce the costs associated with fixing these issues down the line.

It is well established that the cost of fixing a software bug increases exponentially the later it is found in the development process. By catching these bugs early, SAST can save organizations significant amounts of money.

Moreover, the financial impact of a security breach can be devastating. The direct costs, such as incident response and remediation, are just the tip of the iceberg. Organizations also have to deal with indirect costs such as lost business, reputational damage, and potential regulatory fines. By helping prevent such breaches, SAST can provide significant financial benefits.

Best Practices for Using SAST to Secure Applications 

Incorporate SAST Early and Often

SAST should not be an afterthought; it should be embedded into your development process from the start. By doing so, you enable your team to detect and fix vulnerabilities in your application code before they manifest into full-blown security threats.

Implementing SAST early in the SDLC allows developers to catch security issues in real-time, as the code is being written. It is much easier and cost-effective to rectify a vulnerability at the coding stage than after the application has been deployed. Remember, the goal is to shift left with your security initiatives, meaning to address potential issues as early as possible in the development process.

Incorporating SAST often means that it should not be a one-off event. It should be a regular part of your SDLC. Regular SAST checks ensure that any new code written or any changes made do not introduce new vulnerabilities. In essence, incorporating SAST early and often in your SDLC is about fostering a culture of proactive security within your development team.

Automate SAST in Your CI/CD Pipeline

Automation is another best practice that can amplify the effectiveness of your SAST efforts. By integrating SAST into your Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, you can automate the process of scanning your application code for vulnerabilities each time a new code is checked in or a new build is created.

Automation provides several advantages. For one, it reduces the manual effort required to run SAST scans, thereby allowing your team to focus on strategic tasks. Additionally, it ensures that no code goes unchecked, thereby enhancing your overall application security. Lastly, it provides immediate feedback to developers, helping them fix issues promptly.

However, to fully leverage the benefits of automation, it is important to choose the right SAST tool that integrates seamlessly with your CI/CD pipeline. Also, it’s crucial to set up appropriate notifications and alerts to ensure that any identified vulnerabilities are addressed promptly.

Regularly Update and Customize Rules

SAST tools work based on a set of rules that define what constitutes a security vulnerability. These rules need to be updated and customized regularly to ensure their effectiveness. This is because new threats emerge daily, and what was secure yesterday may not be secure today.

Updates to your SAST rules should be driven by a thorough understanding of the latest security threats and best practices. This requires continuous learning and staying abreast with the latest developments in the cybersecurity landscape.

Customization of SAST rules is equally important. Each application is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, it is essential to customize your SAST rules based on the specific security requirements of your application.

Prioritize Identified Threats

Not all vulnerabilities pose the same level of risk to your application. Some may be critical and need immediate attention, while others may be less severe.

Prioritizing threats allows your team to focus their efforts where they are needed the most. It involves assessing each vulnerability based on factors like the potential impact on your application, the likelihood of exploitation, and the resources required for mitigation.

However, prioritizing threats can be a complex task. It requires a deep understanding of your application, its security requirements, and the threat landscape. Therefore, it is important to have a systematic approach to threat prioritization, and possibly leverage tools that can help automate and streamline this process.

Combine SAST with Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

While SAST is a powerful tool for enhancing application security, it is not a silver bullet. It is most effective when used in conjunction with other security testing methodologies, such as Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST).

SAST and DAST complement each other. While SAST focuses on detecting vulnerabilities in the application’s source code, DAST tests the application in its running state, simulating how an attacker would interact with it. By combining SAST with DAST, you can get a holistic view of your application’s security, covering both code-level and runtime vulnerabilities.

Incorporating DAST into your security testing process can involve similar best practices as SAST, such as early and frequent testing, automation, and threat prioritization. However, it also requires a different set of skills and tools, and may require additional resources.


In conclusion, SAST is an invaluable tool for securing your applications. By following these best practices, you can maximize the effectiveness of your SAST efforts, and build robust, secure applications. Remember, application security is not a destination, but a journey. It requires continuous effort, learning, and adaptation. So, stay vigilant, stay informed, and keep improving your security practices.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giladdavidmaayan/