Software has become more and more ubiquitous. Open source libraries are widely used as they make it easy for developers to focus on the core features of the applications they’re building.
Using these open source libraries provides tremendous productivity benefits. However, it also comes with disadvantages – namely in relation to security.
Cyber-criminals and hackers have been increasingly exploiting vulnerabilities in applications and IT systems. It has, therefore, become more and more important to ensure that code bases minimize or totally eliminate vulnerabilities.
However, keeping tabs on all the vulnerabilities, let alone updated ones, in projects can be very daunting. That’s why in this article we’ll take a look at eight tools that automate the detection and fixing of vulnerable spots in a project.
WhiteSource Bolt is probably one of the simplest application security tools to use. It has two versions – a GitHub app and a Microsoft Azure Extension app.
The GitHub version scans a repository every time a push is made (it does at most five scans a day per repository). It then creates an issue for every vulnerable open source dependency that it detects.
The issues contain information on the vulnerability, reference links, dependency tree, and suggested fixes.
The Azure version is a Visual Studio Code (VSCode) extension that scans all projects and detects open source libraries and vulnerabilities in them then provides fixes.
It integrates well with Azure DevOps and Team Foundation Server and detects all open source components in a project without scanning code.
Teams can simply integrate their projects’ GitHub repository with DeepScan. Every time a push is made into a repository, DeepScan provides a real time report on test results.
One of the best things about this is that code quality standards are more enforceable. DeepScan motivates teams to write quality code by grading the project as Poor, Normal, or Good.
SonarQube is an open-source platform that continuously inspects a project for code quality, bugs, code-smells and even security vulnerabilities.
It's a tool written in Java but has the ability to analyze other languages through the use of plugins.
Unlike most of the others in this list, SonarQube isn’t integrated into a project as a simple GitHub extension. It needs to be installed in the local machine for you to be able to use it.
It works by receiving the project’s files as input and then making the necessary analysis. It then generates data based on the analysis, stores that data in a database, and displays it in a dashboard.
Dependabot is a tool you use inside of GitHub that automatically creates pull requests upon detection of vulnerabilities.
This tool performs scans on all of a repository’s dependency files and searches for outdated or insecure dependencies. It then generates a single pull request for each outdated or insecure dependency. The developer can then check those pull requests and merge as necessary.
The great thing about Dependabot is that it’s owned by GitHub so that it can be seamlessly integrated into any repository. It performs constant monitoring and quickly updates users when there's a new vulnerability.
It can be very chaotic to receive daily notifications, so users can configure the frequency that the tool performs scans and creates pull requests.
SourceClear, which is owned by VeraCode, is a tool that helps developers understand more about the open source libraries they are using. SourceClear provides information on those libraries such as who created them, what they do, and which dependencies of such libraries have vulnerabilities.
SourceClear meshes well with a developer’s workflow and provides real-time reports on open-source code risks. It has machine-learning tools that makes it possible to provide such detailed information for each library used.
One of its main features is the prioritization of vulnerabilities that are directly in the code’s execution path. This can reduce remediation time for big projects by up to 90%.
Most Java programs compile cleanly but are still buggy. Compilation captures mostly only syntax and references errors, among others. Usage of static analysis tools such as SpotBugs provides a more comprehensive solution in catching bugs and even vulnerabilities.
SpotBugs inspects Java bytecode (not the source code) and checks for bug patterns. It then classifies errors or potential errors based on how severe they are: Of Concern, Troubling, Scary, Scariest.
This tool is very good at identifying bug patterns (over 400).
Arxan Application Protection
Arxan Application Protection is a total solution to “protect apps inside and out”. This tool’s main selling point - Protecting applications against reverse engineering.
A lot of today’s attacks such as clickjacking are engineered by cyber-criminals through hacking the app’s binary code and then creating a replica app. Users are then lured into trusting this fake app and giving away their data such as banking passwords.
Arxan protects an application from such attacks by “hardening” the application’s code by inserting “code guards” into them. These code guards are tiny security units which protect the application and each other against compromise and they detect attacks at runtime.
One of GitLab’s core value propositions to developers is that it is one of the most exquisite devops tools out there. Added to this is GitLab’s focus on secure deployment.
The platform has incorporated security in its already loaded devops arsenal. Developers can focus on coding while being confident that any security vulnerability will quickly be detected. This makes it very pleasant to use, as no additional tool or integration is necessary.
It employs what it calls the Secure Stage where all the security parts of devops are performed. This “stage” has a goal of identifying proactively any vulnerabilities before they can be exploited in production code.
Each tool has its own pros and cons and the choice to use one over the other depends on the particular taste of the developer. Often, some tools can even be used together.
The bottom line is that nowadays we are more equipped to handle security issues before they become big problems in our application projects.