SAST, or Static Application Security Testing, is a well-known white-box testing approach for identifying vulnerabilities in code. They are significant because they protect applications or systems during the first stages of the SDLC / Software Development Life Cycle. After learning the programming language, an expert can undertake source code reviews and identify vulnerabilities in software. You can carry it out with or without the use of tools.
Why Do Source Code Vulnerabilities Exist?
As part of the SDLC, source code reviews are essential since they identify areas of vulnerability and threat in the code. The majority of the time, businesses hire professionals who can audit their code and hunt for weaknesses. Essentially, repositories have been made available to those auditors who are responsible for auditing the code. SAST is a part of the process. Let’s talk about what the vulnerabilities are and why they are present.
Vulnerabilities resulting from User Inputs
These vulnerabilities are caused mainly by the improper handling of user inputs, which is a common occurrence. If an application contains user-assigned variables, the tester typically examines how those inputs are handled. For example, suppose the inputs are transferred directly to SQL queries. In that case, this may result in SQL injection vulnerabilities.
If the inputs are now rendered on the webpage, this may result in XSS vulnerabilities. If the inputs are directly transferred to system commands, this may result in XSS vulnerabilities. Many developers who are not familiar with security may fail to utilize input validation when writing code, resulting in severe vulnerabilities.
Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
A couple of weaknesses might arise when developers or an organization uses components that have known vulnerabilities in them. Those third-party components may lead to more severe vulnerabilities and may lead to the takeover of the company’s whole infrastructure.
For example, suppose a company uses an outdated dependency in their code, including some of the known RCE or SQLi vulnerabilities. In that case, an attacker can exploit the RCE directly in the application, and it may lead to compromise of the server and the complete data which resides.
So it is indispensable to perform SAST on the application source code. You may mitigate these vulnerabilities in the earliest phase of SDLC as it will be helpful for the organization in terms of cost efficiency and reputational risk.
The Purpose of Remediation
Imagine an application is in a public environment, and then someone discovers a vulnerability that was missed earlier. In that case, it costs a lot of money and reputation to the organization, leading to data exposure or manipulation. If the company holds any PII user data, then it can get exposed owing to this vulnerability. If a data breach occurs, then the company can have a monetary loss and reputation, and users will not trust the company anymore.
That’s why it is crucial to patch these vulnerabilities at the first stage of SDLC or before deploying the application to minimize the risks of a breach. Furthermore, all vulnerabilities like XSS, SQLi, or RCE affect the users or the user information; hence they need to be remediated before the program is deployed to the public.
Now, most firms follow the agile methodology and strive to fix the vulnerability as soon as possible. SAST helps to remediate the exposure at the earliest stage. Thus, SAST decreases the cost of the project and reduces the attack surface of the application. In SAST, the essential point is businesses require experts for that particular language. Only then can they remove the vulnerability.