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What to Look for in SAST Tools

With the increasing complexity of software, it is essential to ensure that the software is secure, reliable, and performs optimally. One way to ensure software security is to use Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools. Engineering managers play a vital role in ensuring that their development teams use the best SAST tools to secure the software they develop.

What is a SAST tool?

SAST tools analyze code from the inside out and find security vulnerabilities in the source code before it is compiled. These tools are essential in identifying security flaws in software, making them a crucial component in any organization's security strategy. However, choosing the right SAST tool can be challenging, especially if you need to become more familiar with their features and functionalities. In this guide, we'll explore the features that engineering managers should look for in SAST tools.

Language Support

The first thing engineering managers should look for when selecting a SAST tool is language support. A good SAST tool should support multiple programming languages. This feature is essential because different projects might be written in varied languages, and ensuring that the SAST tool can analyze all the code the team writes is crucial. A good SAST tool should support languages such as C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and PHP.

Accurate Vulnerability Detection

The primary reason for using SAST tools is to identify vulnerabilities in the software. Therefore, a good SAST tool should be able to detect and identify code vulnerabilities accurately. The tool should have a comprehensive database of known vulnerabilities and be able to detect common and complex vulnerabilities. 

In the context of SAST, a lack of accuracy often manifests as high false positive rates, which means that the tool incorrectly identifies potential security vulnerabilities that do not actually exist in the code. This imprecision can result in substantial challenges for development teams and security professionals, as they must spend valuable time and resources investigating and debunking these false alarms. Consequently, the development process may be hindered, and trust in the tool's reliability may diminish, leading to an increased likelihood of genuine security vulnerabilities being overlooked. When evaluating SAST solutions, it is essential to inquire about the expected false positive rate from the vendor. Understanding the tool's accuracy in identifying genuine security vulnerabilities while minimizing false alarms can help you make a more informed decision about the solution's effectiveness and suitability for your organization's needs.


Performance is a critical factor that engineering managers should consider when selecting a SAST tool. The tool should be fast and efficient and continue the development process. A good SAST tool should be able to analyze code quickly and provide results on time. This feature is essential, especially for large projects that involve a lot of code.

Holistic Application Awareness 

Holistic Application Awareness in SAST encompasses the tool's ability to thoroughly understand the application's overall security posture. This entails examining individual code snippets and comprehending how various code components interact and how vulnerabilities may emerge.

Opt for solutions that extensively evaluate the application's security posture by scrutinizing the relationships between code components and individual code snippets through static analysis, secrets detection, and Infrastructure as Code (IAC) analysis.

Quality Gates

One of the most significant advantages of Quality Gates is that they help to reduce the risk of introducing new security vulnerabilities into the codebase. Quality Gates can check code against established security standards, such as OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) or SANS/CWE (Common Weakness Enumeration), and ensure that the code meets specific requirements before it is released.

Another benefit of Quality Gates is that they help to streamline the development process by reducing the need for manual code reviews. Quality Gates automate the process of checking code against established quality standards, giving developers time to focus on other tasks. This helps to reduce the time and resources required for manual code reviews, ultimately leading to faster release times and increased productivity.

Integration with Development Tools

Integration is an essential feature of SAST tools. The tool should be integrated into the development process and work seamlessly with the development tools used by the team. A good SAST tool should integrate with GitHub, JIRA, and Slack. Integration with these tools makes it easy for developers to get notified when a vulnerability is detected and helps streamline the remediation process.

Actionable Insights (Reporting) 

A good SAST tool should provide detailed and easy-to-understand reports. The reports should provide a comprehensive overview of the vulnerabilities detected in the code across the organization. The reports should also be able to provide remediation guidance to the developers. The SAST tool should provide metrics that help the engineering manager evaluate the security program's effectiveness. For example, the tool should proactively enable teams to discover and fix violations of OWASP® Top 10 and SANS/CWE Top 25 on new pull requests and existing code.

Automated Fixes

Automation is crucial in improving SAST tools. The ability to automatically resolve issues reduces the need for manual intervention and saves time and resources while detecting vulnerabilities more quickly. Besides reducing the likelihood of human error and fostering improved accuracy, automation also enables SAST tools to scale to meet the needs of large and complex applications. As a result, automation can significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of SAST tools by improving speed, consistency, accuracy, and scalability. 

Ease of Use 

SAST user-friendly and intuitive solutions can minimize the learning curve for developers, promoting incorporating security testing into their workflows. Developers are more inclined to utilize a straightforward tool to navigate and comprehend, resulting in comprehensive security testing and a reduced likelihood of vulnerabilities.

SAST tools that smoothly integrate with other development tools and workflows are more likely to be employed consistently throughout development. Effortless integration with existing tools, such as code repositories and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, can help streamline security testing, minimize potential disruptions, and enhance efficiency.

In conclusion, SAST solutions that are easy to use and effortlessly integrate with existing development workflows can boost productivity, heighten accuracy, and ultimately contribute to more secure software development.

DeepSource offers a comprehensive suite of tools and features to help you maintain a clean and secure codebase. Our solutions include SAST and static analysis for all major programming languages, IaC scanning for Terraform, Ansible, and Docker, secrets detection, compliance reports aligned with OWASP® Top 10 and SANS/CWE Top 25, code coverage tracking, and a robust API platform that enables you to export your code health data to any data warehouse. Experience a holistic approach to code security and quality with DeepSource!

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