Facets of SAST: Rule Sets or Architecture Verification – Which is Enough?

Here’s your deep dive into the many facets of Static Application Security Testing (SAST). We are focusing specifically on the efficiency of rule sets like CERT and CWE in fortifying software code. Also, we address the question – is architecture verification an indispensable part of the SAST process?

Understanding SAST in Software Development

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a crucial part of the software development process. SAST tools are designed to identify and fix potential security vulnerabilities at the earliest stages. Whether it's analyzing the source code or compiled versions, SAST uncovers coding errors, insecure practices, and common security flaws.

As the world of cyber threats continues to evolve, there's an increasing need for security in the software development lifecycle. SAST offers a proactive approach to security, detecting vulnerabilities before software is deployed, thereby reducing the risk of exploitation.

Integrating SAST into the software development process has multiple benefits. Not only does it strengthen the overall security of the software, but it also conserves time and resources by identifying security flaws early on. This reduces the need for costly fixes in the future. Furthermore, it ensures adherence to coding best practices and security standards, ensuring compliance with industry guidelines.

CERT and CWE: Essential for Secure Coding

When discussing the facets of SAST, CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) secure coding standards and Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) are key elements of creating secure code. These frameworks give developers the tools to fortify their code against vulnerabilities.

The CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University developed CERT secure coding standards. These guidelines help prevent common security flaws, covering a range of programming languages and areas such as input validation, memory management, and error handling. Following these standards from the beginning ensures the development of secure code.

CWE, on the other hand, is a comprehensive list of known software weaknesses and vulnerabilities developed by the software community. It supports software developers to identify and understand potential weaknesses in their code, allowing for appropriate mitigation measures.

While CERT provides a proactive measure for secure coding, CWE serves as a reference for identifying and addressing vulnerabilities during development. Together, these facets of SAST contribute to the creation of robust and secure software applications.


The Potential and Constraints of CERT and CWE

As globally recognized rule sets, CERT and CWE provide guidelines for secure coding. Their aim is to identify and rectify common vulnerabilities and weaknesses in software applications. However, even with these critical facets of SAST, there are limitations that warrant the need for additional architecture verification.
CERT and CWE offer extensive coverage of security issues with specific rules and recommendations for common vulnerabilities. However, as new vulnerabilities continue to emerge, these rule sets may not provide a comprehensive solution. Additionally, they do not account for the unique architectural aspects and potential design flaws of individual software applications.

That's where the need for manual architecture validation and automated architecture verification comes in. Architecture validation examines the overall design and structure of a software application. It looks at interdependencies, data flows, and interaction patterns within the application to ensure a robust architecture that can resist potential attacks.

Architecture verification complements that architecture validation check because it ensures that the source code adheres to the validated architecture. This automated check frees precious developer time from manual reviews of the code for architectural conformity. This time can be directed to activities that are best carried out by humans: thread modelling, architecture validation, etc.

Combining the insights from CERT and CWE with architecture validation and verification, organizations can enhance their security posture. This comprehensive approach identifies vulnerabilities that may slip through the cracks of rule sets, enabling developers to proactively address potential risks and bolster the overall security of their software applications.

Getting curious and want to take your SAST activities to the next level?

Learn more about the all-encompassing Axivion Suite, its architecture verification and static code analysis tools, which offer the complete package for your code security with integrated CWE and CERT checkers.

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