Source code analysis tools, also referred to as Static Application Security Testing (SAST) Tools, are designed to analyze source code and/or compiled versions of code to help find security flaws.
Some tools are starting to move into the IDE. For the types of problems that can be detected during the software development phase itself, this is a powerful phase within the development life cycle to employ such tools, 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, especially when compared to finding vulnerabilities much later in the development cycle.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Scales well — can be run on lots of software, and can be run repeatedly (as with nightly builds or continuous integration)
- Useful for things that such tools can automatically find with high confidence, such as buffer overflows, SQL Injection Flaws, and so forth
- Output is good for developers — highlights the precise source files, line numbers, and even subsections of lines that are affected
- Many types of security vulnerabilities are difficult to find automatically, such as authentication problems, access control issues, insecure use of cryptography, etc. The current state of the art only allows such tools to automatically find a relatively small percentage of application security flaws. However, tools of this type are getting better.
- High numbers of false positives.
- Frequently can’t find configuration issues, since they are not represented in the code.
- Difficult to ‘prove’ that an identified security issue is an actual vulnerability.
- Many of these tools have difficulty analyzing code that can’t be compiled. Analysts frequently can’t compile code because they don’t have the right libraries, all the compilation instructions, all the code, etc.
Open Source or Free Tools Of This Type
- Bandit – bandit is a comprehensive source vulnerability scanner for Python
- Brakeman – Brakeman is an open source vulnerability scanner specifically designed for Ruby on Rails applications
- Codesake Dawn – Codesake Dawn is an open source security source code analyzer designed for Sinatra, Padrino for Ruby on Rails applications. It also works on non-web applications written in Ruby
- FindBugs – (Legacy – NOT Maintained – Use SpotBugs (see below) instead) – Find bugs (including a few security flaws) in Java programs
- FindSecBugs – A security specific plugin for SpotBugs that significantly improves SpotBugs’s ability to find security vulnerabilities in Java programs. Works with the old FindBugs too,
- Flawfinder Flawfinder – Scans C and C++
- Google CodeSearchDiggity – Uses Google Code Search to identifies vulnerabilities in open source code projects hosted by Google Code, MS CodePlex, SourceForge, Github, and more. The tool comes with over 130 default searches that identify SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), insecure remote and local file includes, hard-coded passwords, and much more. Essentially, Google CodeSearchDiggity provides a source code security analysis of nearly every single open source code project in existence – simultaneously.
- Graudit – Scans multiple languages for various security flaws.
- PMD – PMD scans Java source code and looks for potential code problems (this is a code quality tool that does not focus on security issues)
- Progpilot – Progpilot is a static analyzer tool for PHP that detects security vulnerabilities such as XSS and SQL Injection.
- PreFast (Microsoft) – PREfast is a static analysis tool that identifies defects in C/C++ programs. Last update 2006.
- Puma Scan – Puma Scan is a .NET C# open source static source code analyzer that runs as an IDE plugin for Visual Studio and via MSBuild in CI pipelines.
- .NET Security Guard – Roslyn analyzers that aim to help security audits on .NET applications. It will find SQL injections, LDAP injections, XXE, cryptography weakness, XSS and more.
- RIPS – RIPS is a static source code analyzer for vulnerabilities in PHP web applications. Please see notes on the sourceforge.net site.
- phpcs-security-audit – phpcs-security-audit is a set of PHP_CodeSniffer rules that finds flaws or weaknesses related to security in PHP and its popular CMS or frameworks. It currently has core PHP rules as well as Drupal 7 specific rules.
- SonarQube – Scans source code for more than 20 languages for Bugs, Vulnerabilities, and Code Smells. SonarQube IDE plugins for Eclipse, Visual Studio, and IntelliJ provided by SonarLint.
- SpotBugs – This is the active fork replacement for FindBugs, which is not maintained anymore.
- VisualCodeGrepper (VCG) – Scans C/C++, C#, VB, PHP, Java, and PL/SQL for security issues and for comments which may indicate defective code. The config files can be used to carry out additional checks for banned functions or functions which commonly cause security issues.
GitLab has lashed a free SAST tool for a bunch of different languages natively into GitLab. So you might be able to use that, or at least identify a free SAST tool for the language you need from that list.