A static code analysis, also known as white box testing is an application testing solution that reviews code in a non-runtime environment. A Static code analysis can be carried out both during the development lifecycle as well as even after the application is launched on app stores. This analysis (depending upon the tool) highlights different predetermined common vulnerabilities within a static state by using various testing methods like data flow, Control flow graph, Taint, and Lexical analysis.
Due to the vast unexplored territory of cybersecurity and the rise of stringent government policies, businesses are obligated to keep a constant check on their security parameters at all times. This is exactly when a static code analysis comes in handy to help the developer, security analyst, and the businesses keep updated with the latest vulnerabilities.
Static code analyzer looks for patterns, defined to them as rules, which can cause those security vulnerabilities or other code quality problems, necessary for production quality code. With that being said, here are five reasons why it would help businesses to adopt static code testing.
#1. Change is the only constant – When the cybersecurity ecosystem is nothing but changing constantly, it helps for businesses to adopt an agile security strategy to help cope with this change. Most static code analysis tools are constantly updated with new threats and help keep a check on the sanity of basic configuration testing. A lot of the static code analyzers also incorporate industry compliance test cases into their security system to ensure that the most common and dangerous threats are accounted for.
#2. Assists Security Analysts – An ideal scenario for when a static code analysis would be performed is that there would be a high degree of confidence that what is found is indeed a flaw (also known as false positives). This is however not the case in every situation and so much so even with a lot of static analyzer tools out there. However, what the tool does do is help a security analyst to narrow down on threats detected, which would otherwise take them several hours or days to identify. Analysts can then look deeper into the threats to help ensure that they are not false positives and take necessary actions towards it.
#3. Helps scale at a faster pace– In a world of constant competition, it is essential to have your security parameters up and running constantly. As ideal as this may sound, it also is not possible unless heavy investment and infrastructure are poured into the business. A static code analysis is an inexpensive way of ensuring that basic security of your application is intact. It was quite alarming when Gartner stated that 75% of apps fail basic security testing. Getting a basic security test with a security analyst not only costs a lot of money but also is a time-consuming process. Some static code analyzing tools speed up this process by nearly 75%. This way you can either build more apps and push them faster to market or you can grow your existing application at a much faster pace.
#4. Finds bugs during early stages of development: When the race to success is all about cost vs income, detecting bugs during the early stages of development can save businesses millions of unforeseen dollars. The path to success is very unpredictable and so is the dreaded thought of being hacked. An IBM study stated that the average cost of a data breach amounted to $4 Million. A hefty sum to pay for something that could have been easily avoided, if accounted for during development. Many static analyzer tools have incorporated the continuous integration technology. A process that automates the build and testing of code every time a team member commits changes to the version control.
#5. Define rules to assist developers: Developers usually work on specific projects without knowledge about security while they code. Static code analyzers help you define project specific rules to ensure that all developers follow them without any manual intervention or sidetracking. By using a static code analyzer you also save from needing a security specialist just to ensure that all code is written appropriately. This way developers can be aware of security issues and do it themselves. Some tools are starting to move into the Integrated Development Environments (IDE). For the problems that can be detected during the software development phase itself, this is a critical phase within the development lifecycle for which this tool can be introduced, as it provides immediate feedback to the developer on issues they might be introducing into the code during code development itself. This immediate feedback is very useful as compared to finding vulnerabilities much later in the development cycle. It also helps the business save themselves from vulnerabilities which potentially could cost them millions.
Business applications are a critical part of a company’s success but yet many fail to realize this. Even worse, the importance of security during the stages of development. In a recent Ponemon Institute study, results showed that 33% of organizations surveyed never test their apps for security issues before deployment and that most companies test less than half of the applications they deploy. That totals to nearly 12 million mobile devices being carried around with active vulnerabilities.
We understand that it is difficult to invest in something that may never benefit you, but the ones who are most vulnerable are the ones that think they will never be hacked. For those businesses looking to take measures to ramp up security, incorporating a good static code analysis solution may be the best way to get started.