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10 Best Static Application Security Testing Tools (SAST) In 2023

SAST Tools Shortlist

  1. GitHub

    Makes it easy to record and rewind changes made to code repositories.

  2. Dynatrace

    Providing deep observability with intelligent automation

  3. DeepSource

    Static code analysis made easy with minimal configuration and code health solutions

  4. SonarQube

    Applies automated static code analysis rules to continuously inspect code

  5. GuardRails

    Seamless end-to-end testing and vulnerability management scanner that keeps the noise low

  6. Codiga

    Unleash developer productivity with code snippets

  7. GitLab

    Open source software development platform with code review, issue tracking, and version control

  8. AppSonar

    Static code analyzer that automates and scales static application testing

  9. Nexus Lifecycle

    Provides a single tool to automate supply chain management throughout the SDLC lifecycle

  10. Mend SAST

    Emphasizes speed without sacrificing security in enterprise application development

Software source code is the cornerstone that drives the power and intelligence of computer apps and programs. The best static application security testing tools scan an application’s source code, including assembly, binary, or byte code, to identify vulnerabilities and underlying security flaws.

SAST tools have become an integral part of application security (AppSec) geared toward improving code quality. The best SAST tools allow DevSecOps to probe the design conditions of software right through compiled versions, while also increasing developer output in addressing problematic code. 

In this article, I compare and evaluate the best static application security testing tools on the market right now. 

Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best static application security testing tool? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): The ability of the UI to provide intuitive guidance, so users can discover vital application elements and capture nuance in testing results.
  1. Usability: This includes ease of use and configuration setup, with a preference for tools that are available as a plugin so developers can integrate and use them unobtrusively into their IDEs. 
  1. Integrations: Workflow integration is vital for SAST tools because they are hardly designed to function as self-contained, standalone applications. To maximize their purpose, they need to provide API integration endpoints.
  1. Support for major languages: The best SAST tools are versatile and can scan for security vulnerabilities in multiple programming languages, especially those that developers commonly use. 
  1. Scalability: In addition to accommodating several languages, a SAST platform should scale and perform effectively when required to execute lots of software scans.
  1. Reliably identify known vulnerabilities: A good SAST tool should competently detect and identify well-known threats like code injection flaws, buffer overflow scenarios in code, and those in the OWASP Top Ten.
  1. Reverse Engineer Binaries: One of the advantages of white box testing is access to the underlying software code and framework. While enhancing the ability to understand the logic of source code, SAST also needs to provide the ability to test from the inside out by discerning binaries and reverse engineering assembly language code.
  1. Value for $: At a minimum, a tool should be cost-effective. Ideally, it should surprise customers by providing them with exceeding value for the money they pay. 

Overviews Of The 10 Best Static Application Security Testing Tools

1

GitHub

Makes it easy to record and rewind changes made to code repositories.

GitHub is a tool that provides significant code collaboration with the history of files in the code repository to be easily tracked. While GitHub still makes it possible to upload source code and share it with remote partners, it has evolved by adding robust security features. GitHub has recently strengthened its competencies in security by enabling developers to find and fix security problems in code as they write. 

In essence, GitHub’s application security allows teams to find and fix vulnerabilities before code is merged into the repositories. It facilitates the implementation of left-shift security by enabling the incorporation of security analysis into the development workflow. Thanks to CodeQL, GitHub implements real-time code scanning to provide feedback as you write while also integrating the result natively into the developer workflow. 

In addition to its enabled-code scanning for repositories, GitHub also allows DevSecOps to schedule code scanning to run each time there is a pull or push request as part of code review.

GitHub provides personal, organizational, and enterprise account tiers. GitHub allows individuals and organizations to own and use an unlimited number of private and public repositories.  Individuals and organizations can use either GitHub Free or GitHub Pro accounts. Likewise, organizations can use GitHub Free but to gain more control and features, they must upgrade to GitHub Team or GitHub Enterprise Cloud.

Generally, GitHub bills for advanced security features by requiring you to purchase a license for an enterprise account; specifically, either GitHub Enterprise Cloud or GitHub Enterprise Server.  However, these advanced security features remain free for public repositories hosted on GitHub.com. 

So, GitHub is free for individuals and organizations. GitHub Team is $44 per user/year for the first 12 months. 

GitHub Enterprise comes with a free trial but is billed at $231/user/year for the first 12 months. However, GitHub primarily uses per-user pricing models, so alternatively, you contact GitHub’s sales team for GitHub Enterprise pricing quotes.

A Free Basic Plan Is Available

$4/user/month

2

Dynatrace

Providing deep observability with intelligent automation

Dynatrace is an application and infrastructure monitoring tool that aims to simplify cloud complexity. It leverages its AI-powered platform to automate DevOps and provide intelligent security to deliver software faster and more securely. 

Dynatrace offers a broad view of your computing environment along with a seamless digital experience. 

Dynatrace is an all-in-one platform but the pricing is based on the individual components of the ecosystem. Digital experience monitoring is priced at $11/month for 10K annual Digital experience monitoring units. Application security monitoring is priced at $15/month for 8GB per host. Infrastructure monitoring is priced at $22/month for 8GB per host. Open Ingestion is priced at $25/month for 100K annual Davis data units. Cloud automation is priced at $0.10/Cloud automation unit. Full-stack monitoring is priced at $74/month for 8GB per host.

15 days free trial

From $11/month

3

DeepSource

Static code analysis made easy with minimal configuration and code health solutions

DeepSource is a sophisticated static analysis platform that provides enterprise-grade shift left security tools. DeepSource emphasis is on making life easier for DevSecOps and QA teams, with its continuous code quality checks. In addition to judiciously tracking the key metrics of code health, 

With DeepSource, you can jump right in and start analyzing code without minimal configurations. If automatically formatting your code wasn’t enough, it goes a step further with its Autoflix feature that generates bug fixes so that vulnerabilities don’t end up in production. 

DeepSource can be integrated with tools like BitBucket, GitLab, and GitHub. Moreover, DeepSource is flexible and versatile. It can be used as infrastructure-as-code and covers all the major programming languages. 

DeepSource uses a per-user pricing plan. However, it is free for small teams and personal accounts.

Free for small teams and personal accounts

4

SonarQube

Applies automated static code analysis rules to continuously inspect code

SonarQube puts developers in the position to write safer and cleaner code by automating code inspection. It additionally boosts the process of releasing quality code with the capacity to define static code analysis rules. 

SonarQube is versatile and expansive, with support for multi-language applications, which currently stands at 24 programming languages. Some of the vital languages it provides critical security for include C#, C++, Java, PHP, Python, and so on. Moreover, it provides code review feedback by analyzing branches of repositories during pull requests for GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, and so on. 

SonarQube provides developers with multiple points of integration into the software development ecosystem. It offers in-IDE integration with SonarLint while also providing integration into the development and CI/CD workflow. In terms of tools, SonarQube integrates with DevOps tools like Azure DevOps, GitHub, and Jenkins. 

SonarQube’s Community edition is open source and free. It includes a 14-day free trial for its Developer, Enterprise, and editions. Pricing for these is also available upon request and appears to be largely contingent on prospective lines of code to be inspected. 

starts at $20,000/year

5

GuardRails

Seamless end-to-end testing and vulnerability management scanner that keeps the noise low

GuardRails empowers both developers and security teams to keep code secure through continuous protection and seamless experience. It does this by providing high visibility into security issues while keeping background noise low but with high-impact reporting. 

GuardRails is seamlessly integrated into the background of workflows. This affords developers little distraction as they can focus on writing the best code. Although it runs security scans quietly in the background, it nonetheless provides notifications in the form of real-time alerts when significant vulnerabilities emerge. 

GuardRails increases productivity while keeping code secure. GuardRails enhances version control system integration with platforms like GitHub due to the ease by which it can be installed or integrated into existing repositories.  

GuardRails has a free tier geared toward allowing individuals or small teams to kick-start their AppSec journey. Its Standard tier is an expanded suite with more enhanced security for single teams and is priced at $35 per seat/month. The Professional tier offers advanced tools for teams across portfolios and is priced at $55 per seat/month.

From $35 per seat/month

6

Codiga

Unleash developer productivity with code snippets

Codiga is a highly scalable static analysis (SAST) tool that enables developers to write faster code. It facilitates left-shift coding philosophy by enabling DevSecOps and QA teams to detect quality defects early in the software development cycle. Codiga allows you to automate your code reviews with code analysis supported by context-based suggestions.

It boosts productivity, especially for developers who work on multiple computers and platforms, by making all their code snippets easily available. Moreover, Codiga’s Coding Assistant allows developers to write, reuse, and share code snippets directly from their IDE with other team members instead of engaging in their manually arduous task of searching for it. 

Meanwhile, Codiga’s Automated Code Review immediately discovers and identifies vulnerabilities and coding problems during pull requests. In addition to capturing bad coding practices such as code duplicates and complex functions, it also reports outdated dependencies as reflected by CVE lists.

In addition to automated testing features, Codiga also provides source coding scanning, workflow management, quality assurance, application security, collaboration tools, and so on. Codiga is also a continuous integration tool for CI pipelines. 

Codiga has a free version which is ideal for open-source developers. However, Teams is its priced tier costing $14/month for software engineering teams. 

From $14/month for software engineering teams

7

GitLab

Open source software development platform with code review, issue tracking, and version control

GitLab empowers users to build modern applications and accelerate digital transformation by embracing automated processes to deliver code faster. 

In addition to providing code repository and version control functions, GitLab comes with built-in DevOps workflows such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines. GitLab boosts developer productivity and collaboration among developers while reducing costs, cycle time, and time to market. 

GitLab is free for individual users. Its Premium edition targets customers who want to enhance team productivity and coordination and is priced at $19/user/month. GitLab Ultimate tier is priced at $99/user/month and is designed for organization-wide security, planning, and compliance.

Free for individual users

From $19/user/month

8

AppSonar

Static code analyzer that automates and scales static application testing

AppSonar specializes in finding hidden security bugs and automates static application testing. It provides flexible approaches to creating scalable quality software by finding bugs faster. AppSonar operates as a standalone application that can be run on either Windows or Linux systems. It can also either be used from the command line or GUI interface. 

One of the ways it does this is by empowering users to expand code testing coverage with custom extensions. In addition to providing a gateway to AppSonar functionality, AppSonar extensions are also easy to implement. Instead of creating custom extensions, you can simply download existing ones.  

AppSonar’s features include multi-language scanning, deployment management, dashboard interface, debugging, application security, vulnerability, and source code scanning. In addition to IDE integration, AppSonar also easily integrates at any point in the CI/CD pipeline. 

AppSonar supports three licensing models. One license follows an annual per-user price of $395. Another has a more limited time window with a license based on 45 days per user for $195. Contact AppSonar’s sales teams for a quote on Enterprise-Wide licensing. 

From $195/user/45 days

9

Nexus Lifecycle

Provides a single tool to automate supply chain management throughout the SDLC lifecycle

Nexus Lifecycle is an open-source security tool that provides security monitoring at every stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This comprehensiveness empowers users with control over their software supply chain, especially concerning detecting and fixing open-source dependency vulnerabilities. 

Nexus Lifecycle enables developers to proactively eliminate threats. It comes with a Chrome extension that alerts developers if an open-source component they selected from public repositories has security flaws or vulnerabilities. Nexus Lifecycle does so by examining code or components against a database of known vulnerabilities, like CVE or OWASP Top 10. 

This minimizes the time spent mitigating risks in software development. Therefore, in addition to selecting safer components with open-source scanning, other features provided include deep code static scanning to build scaled yet secure development practices. 

Nexus Lifecycle offers developers the ability to integrate their security tool into code repositories such as Git. 

In addition to Lifecycle, the Nexus platform also offers Repository Pro (centralized binaries across supply chains) and Firewall (Fortify applications from malicious open source components) versions. 

Nexus uses a per-user pricing model, which estimates that 50 users for a generic application cost $127/user/month. However, contact sales for pricing quotes.

From $127/user/month

10

Mend SAST

Emphasizes speed without sacrificing security in enterprise application development

Mend SAST allows DevOps teams to perform extensive yet deep security analysis of application source code without sacrificing speed. It strives to remove the burden of application security as much as possible so developers can produce quality and secure code. 

Mend SAST was previously known as WhiteSource. It is ideal for enterprise applications as it has a strong reputation for meeting the security needs of complex and large-scale software projects. It also provides built-in data governance, with support for a range of infrastructural needs, whether on-premise, the cloud, or hybrid solutions. 

It also offers automated remediation which highlights the specific code changes required to fix the flaws in the code.

Mend SAST offers Teams and Enterprise editions. Teams charge a minimum of 20 developers per year at $12,000. On the other hand, Enterprise can only be used for a minimum of 40 developers per year at $32,000.

$12,000/year/minimum of 20 developers

The 10 Best Static Application Security Testing Tools Summary

Tool Free Option Price
1
GitHub

Makes it easy to record and rewind changes made to code repositories.

A Free Basic Plan Is Available

$4/user/month Visit Website
2
Dynatrace

Providing deep observability with intelligent automation

15 days free trial

From $11/month Visit Website
3
DeepSource

Static code analysis made easy with minimal configuration and code health solutions

Not available

Free for small teams and personal accounts Visit Website
4
SonarQube

Applies automated static code analysis rules to continuously inspect code

Not available

starts at $20,000/year Visit Website
5
GuardRails

Seamless end-to-end testing and vulnerability management scanner that keeps the noise low

Not available

From $35 per seat/month Visit Website
6
Codiga

Unleash developer productivity with code snippets

Not available

From $14/month for software engineering teams Visit Website
7
GitLab

Open source software development platform with code review, issue tracking, and version control

Free for individual users

From $19/user/month Visit Website
8
AppSonar

Static code analyzer that automates and scales static application testing

Not available

From $195/user/45 days Visit Website
9
Nexus Lifecycle

Provides a single tool to automate supply chain management throughout the SDLC lifecycle

Not available

From $127/user/month Visit Website
10
Mend SAST

Emphasizes speed without sacrificing security in enterprise application development

Not available

$12,000/year/minimum of 20 developers Visit Website

Other SAST Tool Options

Here are a few more SAST tools that didn’t make the list but are worth checking out.

  1. StackHawk

    Brings API security testing and application security closer to the Developer

  2. IDA Pro

    Interactive disassembler and binary code analysis tool for in-depth code behavioral insight

  3. Codacy

    DevOps intelligence platform with high-quality code on 40+ programming languages.

  4. Brinqa

    Consolidate, prioritize and manage findings from all your AST tools.

  5. Reshift

    Code security tool that secures your code as you build

  6. Klocwork

    Static code analysis and SAST tool for C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, and Kotlin.

  7. mend.io

    Find and fix vulnerabilities at the early stages of software development.

  8. SpectralOps

    Advanced AI backed technology with over 2000 detectors to discover and classify your data silos and uncover data breaches.

  9. INSIDER CLI

    Covers the OWASP Top 10 to make source code analysis to find vulnerabilities right in the source code.

  10. Checkmarx

    Fast and accurate scans easily integrated into the tools you use daily, with remediation guidance.

What is a SAST tool?

SAST is the acronym for static application security testing. SAST tools are essentially application security (AppSec) tools that scan and analyze an application’s source, binary, and byte code. The objective of using SAST tools is to identify weaknesses in code that could potentially serve as vulnerability points to be exploited by hackers. 

Some of the code flaws and vulnerabilities include SQL injection attacks, buffer overflows, cross-site scripting attacks, and cross-site request forgery, among others. A good SAST tool should be able to identify such threats and vulnerabilities when they exist with high confidence. 

How Do I Use SAST Tooling?

As a white box testing methodology, SAST should be used as early and often as possible in the software development cycle. For those that require a significant learning curve, training should be provided to bring the developers up to speed on how to use it. 

What are SAST Tooling Key Features?

Here are the key features I look for when selecting static application security testing tools:

  1. Bug tracking: The ability to provide issue and bug-tracking capabilities is a vital function of an AppSec tool. This allows DevSecOps to account for the volume of vulnerabilities in the source code and then apply remediation actions.
  1. Real-time analytics and reporting: These dual features provide QA and cybersecurity with deep insight and visibility into what is happening inside the code. Analytics provides an overview of the logic and execution paths followed by an application while up-to-date reporting adequately documents vulnerability findings.
  1. Vulnerability scanning: The focal point of any SAST tool is vulnerability scanning to discover flaws in software that may not be easily discernible due to the sheer amount of source code. 
  1. Performing multiple types of code analysis: A good SAST platform shouldn’t be a one-trick pony. To effectively serve customers, it should be able to perform a broad range of analyses including structural analysis, configuration analysis, control flow analysis, data flow analysis, and semantic code analysis. 

What Do You Think About This List?

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By Eze Onukwube

Eze has a master's degree in communications with over 10 years of experience as a software engineer. His playground is at the intersection of technology, process improvement, and simplifying IT concepts.

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