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How to Choose Code Scanning Tools

For as fast as the software development process can go, it’s all too easy for application security to become an afterthought. However, the right code scanning tools can make app hardening an organic part of the development lifecycle and protect your team’s time, money, and reputation.

Discover more about source code scanning tools, as well as features to look for when searching for solutions that can make securing your code easier and faster than ever.

What Are Source Code Scanning Tools?

How to Choose Code Scanning Tools KWN 3 steps to better code

Also known as source code analysis tools, source code scanning tools are designed to read and analyze your source code to identify security vulnerabilities. Code scanning and static analysis tools allow developers to detect issues during the software development lifecycle.

There are multiple types of code scanning tools that can be valuable for developers and testers, including software composition analysis tools (SCA) and static application security testing tools (SAST).

SCA tools are designed to find and fix issues in open-source components within code. SAST tools detect security vulnerabilities within proprietary or first-party source code, without running the program or using a test case. Both tools allow developers to harden their applications and streamline the development lifecycle by identifying problems early on.

Why Are Code Scanning Tools Important?

Applications across all platforms and device types are under constant threat of attacks from malicious actors. Whether your app uses open-source code, other third-party resources, or even code that was written from scratch, hackers know how to find vulnerabilities in your app.

While no developer necessarily wants to write vulnerable code, it can be easy for bad habits during the development process to have disastrous effects down the line. For example, many developers will skip rigorous security tests to save time during development sprints. 

Open-source code can also be a source of trouble for application security. While open-source code isn’t inherently unsafe and many developers pride themselves on being thorough and meticulous, failure to scan for security updates can make your code easier to exploit.

Bad actors can take advantage of these “soft targets” in your code to breach your security measures and do as they please. Some of the most common prizes for hackers can access within your app include:

  • Trade secrets
  • Proprietary information about your business
  • User credentials and contact information
  • Private information, including addresses and phone numbers
  • Government ID numbers such as social security or insurance numbers
  • Payment or credit card information
  • Funds associated with your application
  • Government, municipal, and police service data

There are also numerous historical instances of hackers using code vulnerabilities to steal user data or hold it for ransom using a command or SQL injection. This can lead to millions of dollars in damages, as seen in the MOVEit hack of July 2023 or the infamous Equifax data breach of 2017.

What Should Effective Source Code Scanning Tools Have?

As a baseline, the most effective source code scanning should have SAST and open-source static code analysis (SCA) tools. However, there are other features to look for when you’re determining which products are best for your team.

These are some of the key components your tool of choice should have.

Comprehensive Language Support

Open-source and proprietary software components come in dozens of different programming languages. In turn, the code analysis tools you use to protect your application should account for this, to make it easier to detect potential security risks and obsolete code in your software.

Robust static code analysis tools like Kiuwan allow developers and testers to find coding errors across more than 30 major programming languages and frameworks. 

Compliance with Security Standards

The developer community as a whole follows a series of industry standards for application security, in addition to federal regulations for protecting your users. At the very least, your code security tools should be able to help you maintain compliance with security standards like CERT, CWE, OWASP, and SANS to ensure your users and their data are safe when using your application.

Among its growing list of security standards, Kiuwan covers:

  • SANS 25
  • CERT-Java/C/C++
  • WASC
  • PCI-DSS
  • NIST
  • MISRA
  • BIZEC

Integration With Your Pipeline

An effective suite of source code scanning tools should integrate with your CI/CD pipeline, rather than disrupt or slow down your processes. Not only does this streamline your processes during the development lifecycle, but it also makes your code higher quality earlier in the process. At a glance, the right code scanning tools allow you to implement best practices into your pipeline such as:

  • Automating the testing process: While some code tests require a human touch, many can be automated, allowing your testers to focus on more intensive tasks at several points in the pipeline.
  • Eliminating unnecessary duplications: Never do anything twice that you only need to do once during a development sprint. Using code scanning tools can help you remove or automate duplicated tasks.
  • Removing sequential task barriers: Some tasks and tests can be done concurrently. Automating the process with a strong code-scanning tool allows you to execute parallel tasks and streamline every step of the pipeline
  • Decreasing human touchpoints: Even the fastest developer on your team will still be a source of artificial delays if they have other work that takes precedence over what you need them to do. Code scanning can make it easier to reduce delays associated with human interaction.

All of these steps can reduce the amount of time it takes to release your software and increase your product’s quality overall.

Tools for License Compliance

Most projects using third-party or open-source tools—and therefore the vast majority of applications—need to ensure that the code they use complies with licensing requirements.

Powerful tools like Kiuwan SCA can search far and wide for software licenses, outdated code dependencies, and other potential avenues hackers can exploit within your application. This allows your team to ensure your project uses the code within the terms and conditions of its license and determine whether your open-source modules align with your project’s licensing policies.

User-Friendly Features

The best code quality tools on the market will also be user-friendly for everyone on your team—from your newest member fresh out of onboarding to your most experienced lead developer. Some of the best tools in terms of user-friendliness will offer the following:

  • Dashboards with top-down views of security issues to aid in prioritization
  • The ability to create your own rules
  • False positive suppression features
  • Propagation path visualization to detect flawed data flows
  • Automatic action plan capabilities to resolve defects as they’re detected
  • Integration with other tools and coding platforms your team uses

Kiuwan’s SAST and SCA tools notify developers about potential vulnerabilities in their code the second it is introduced. This not only allows your team to catch potential security issues before they go too far with a shift-left approach to software testing but also helps them stay up to speed with coding best practices using contextual remediation advice.

Why Choose Kiuwan?

Kiuwan has been providing high-quality, comprehensive code security tools for developers for more than 20 years. We are recognized by review platforms like G2 for our rigorous standards in regular evaluations.

In a recent report, Kiuwan ranked among the top five tools for both the Relationship Index for Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and the Implementation Index for Static Application Security Testing (SAST). We earned these honors because our software offers:

  • Ease of implementation
  • User adoption
  • Short go-live time
  • Easy setup

We were also named as a high performer with elevated user satisfaction in the Grid Report for Static Application Security Testing (SAST).

Our G2 Grid rankings are based on the experiences of real users in the development community. At Kiuwan, we pride ourselves on instilling more confidence in the security of all your applications while making the process of setting up and using the software as easy as possible.

Request a Free Trial

Ready to try a code scanning tool that is trusted by software developers and testers worldwide? Request a free 14-day trial of Kiuwan Application Security today and see how we can protect your app today.

Get Your FREE Demo of Kiuwan Application Security Today!

Identify and remediate vulnerabilities with fast and efficient scanning and reporting. We are compliant with all security standards and offer tailored packages to mitigate your cyber risk within the SDLC.

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