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SAST vs. SCA: What’s the Difference?

Many different types of security tests are available to developer teams. However, some can only work in specific environments, and others might only work once the application is running. That’s precisely why SAST and SCA are so important for protecting your application from malicious actors.

Let’s compare SAST vs. SCA directly, including where each test is used and why both are essential to protecting your products.

What Is SCA?

What Does SCA Testing Do?

The overwhelming majority of applications use at least one open-source component, upwards of 97 percent. While having access to open-source code has made it easier for development teams to build programs quickly, they can be more vulnerable to security breaches. This is especially true if the IT team does not have someone constantly monitoring open sources for critical updates to vulnerabilities.

However, software composition analysis (SCA) allows developers to find and manage potential vulnerabilities in open-source components. At a glance, Kiuwan’s SCA tools allow them to do the following:

  • Scan for vulnerabilities on a rolling basis
  • Easily integrate with other tools like Jenkins plugins, IBM Bluemix DevOps Services, and other APIs and analysis tools
  • Track open-source libraries in over 30 programming languages to identify code updates
  • Find and update new patches for open-source code that can affect your product’s security
  • Identify dependencies that rely on open-source components to function

When to Use SCA Security Testing

Since almost every application and product uses open-source components on some level, SCA testing is always necessary. This is especially true before initial deployment.

However, testers can also run SCA security tests during and after the process of building the application’s open-source components. With tools like Kiuwan SCA, teams can also run tests continuously after deployment to more easily release critical patches and identify dependencies in your application.

What Is SAST?

What Does Static Application Security Testing Do?

Static application security testing (SAST) scans your app’s proprietary or first-party source code for vulnerabilities without needing to run the program or work through a test case. Software testers often use it alongside SCA testing, but before dynamic application software testing (DAST) to detect vulnerabilities in their program’s code.

SAST tools analyze your entire application from the inside based on a series of rules you set with the testing tools.

SAST testing tools reveal the locations of vulnerabilities like SQL injections before the program enters the QA phase, allowing developers to streamline the development lifecycle. These tools also minimize the amount of vulnerable areas in your application’s code, making costly and embarrassing data breaches less likely.

Unlike other types of code analysis, SAST can run during every phase of software development, even in the earliest stages. It also allows developers to easily identify the exact location of vulnerable code, down to the line number within the file. This makes it more difficult for malicious actors to exploit unsecured lines of code by minimizing them overall.

When to Conduct a SAST Test

Your software testing team can use SAST tools at any point during development. Thanks to its static approach to detecting security vulnerabilities, it can find potential security risks in individual lines of code — meaning your team can use SAST tools at any time before deployment.

With scanning tools like Kiuwan’s SAST capabilities, developers and testers can run tests from the earliest stages of production and throughout the development process, including during QA and final checks.

The Key Difference Between SAST and SCA

When comparing SCA vs SAST, it’s important to remember that both types of tests work with different types of code. Here are the key differences between the two at a glance:

  • Types of code: SAST primarily analyzes proprietary code for potential security risks. SCA, on the other hand, is designed to identify vulnerabilities in open-source components so organizations can remediate them before deployment or delivery.
  • Remediation steps: Remediating risky code that SCA tests identify typically involves patching vulnerabilities directly. On the other hand, fixing SAST vulnerabilities usually involves writing more secure code, sometimes from scratch.
  • Accuracies: While Kiuwan’s testing tools for both SCA and SAST are very accurate and able to identify vulnerabilities in proprietary and open-source software, less robust SCA tools are more likely to produce false negatives with more obscure libraries. Conversely, less robust SAST tools are more likely to indicate false positives.

Because SCA and SAST address security issues in two different types of code, both are equally essential for improving your software’s security. Using both types of tests allows your team to make your applications more secure and address potential issues proactively.

Keep Every Part of Your Code Secure with Kiuwan

Looking for ways to keep both your first-party and open-source code secure for your clients and users? Kiuwan may have the tools you need. Start a free 14-day trial today and see how you can keep your applications safe.

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