I have been in the security and privacy industries throughout my entire career. I started my journey many years ago as a software developer and moved into the business side of things gradually. All these years, it has always been painful to see companies spend enormous amount of dollars on firewalls and anti-virus software year after year, but vulnerabilities in software remain unidentified or unfixed in applications. We are living in a world built on software and not a single day goes by without headlines about enterprising intruders exploiting weaknesses to steal massive amounts of data or to inflict damage. Current cyber-attacks target weaknesses in the software organizations develop and use. After software has been developed, it is generally difficult to stop malware related attacks.
Below are the top ten reasons why software developers should use static code analysis:
1. Meet mandatory requirements – In recent years, software code quality and security started to go through a transformation. Financial services firms, including investment banks, have made it mandatory to pass static code analysis tests, penetration and security testing before they put source code into production. Most organizations and regulations now demand that developers follow secure coding compliance requirements for software development. This is a direct result of major incidents and cyber terrorism all over the world.
2. Really understand your application – As you are building your application, static code analysis can provide you with insight into how it is progressing.
3. Code simplification and sanitizing – Your code may be a collection of several programmers working on different parts, each programmer reusing different components from different sources, which makes it a complex process to pinpoint any existing defects.
4. Identifying and fixing potential vulnerabilities, bugs and security threats – Static code analysis is one of the tools used to analyze source code without executing it and helps find potential vulnerabilities, bugs and security threats. The tool looks for patterns, defined as rules, which can cause security vulnerabilities or other code quality problems.
5. Checking to see if your code complies with best practices and coding standards – Coding standards and best practices when programming yield substantial benefits. With static code analysis you can check things automatically to find problems like repeating the same name for two variables of different scopes.
6. Detect errors in your code before someone else finds them – Buffer overruns, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, information leakage, TOCTOU race condition and hard-coded passwords, memory/resource leaks, null dereference, uninitialized variables, division by zero, use after free and integer overflow errors can be problematic.
7. Code documentation – Code that is not well documented can be extremely difficult to work with and consume unnecessary time. By running static analysis you can get to know what you missed to comment or where you need to put further comments.
8. Improve application performance – Static code analysis can make you aware of some inefficiencies that would impact your application performance and give you the opportunity to fix them in a timely manner.
9. Better resource utilization – Finding the bugs and issues early in a development cycle means your costs will be less to fix them.
10. It is good practice and your clients will appreciate it – Along with unit testing, code reviews, and continuous integration, static code analysis is another tool to help you produce a better quality software product.