How to Run a SAST test: The Dev Tutorial

By Eyal Katz April 19, 2023

If you prioritize long-term security and success, you should be analyzing your applications from the inside out. Enter Static Application Security Testing (SAST), a proactive method of identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities in an application’s source code before deployment. 

SAST solutions analyze the source code of an application and use advanced algorithms and rule sets to identify potential security vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and buffer overflows. By running SAST tests at different stages of the development process, you can ensure that the applications you build are secure from the beginning. SAST tests should be efficient and accurate, designed for scalability, accuracy, and ease of use. Let’s dive deeper into how this works.

How SAST works and why it matters

To understand SAST, it is important to distinguish it from other testing methods such as Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), which analyzes an application while running. DAST sends requests to the application to identify vulnerabilities in real-time. On the other hand, during SAST, code is scanned without actually executing the application. SAST tools analyze the code line by line to detect coding errors, security issues, and other potential vulnerabilities to prevent mistakes before the application is deployed into production. Both testing methods are often used together to provide a comprehensive assessment of an application’s security.


Benefits of using SAST

  • Detects security issues in code early to prevent costly and time-consuming fixes later in the development cycle.
  • Provides comprehensive testing of an application’s source code, covering all the possible paths and flows through the code to identify potential security vulnerabilities that might go unnoticed.
  • Can be customized to meet the application’s specific needs and the organization’s security policies. 
  • SAST is highly scalable and can scan large amounts of code quickly and efficiently.
  • Integrates with other development tools such as IDEs and build systems to enable developers to identify and fix security issues in real-time.
  • Helps ensure compliance with security standards and OWASP recommends using SAST as a mandatory control to ensure software security.

Why is SAST important in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

SAST should be performed at different stages of the SDLC to identify potential security risks and suggest best practices to ensure secure coding:

  • In the design phase, SAST can help to prevent security vulnerabilities from being introduced at the earliest stage of the SDLC. 
  • During development, SAST tools can be used to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in the code as it is being written. 
  • At the testing stage, SAST can be used to validate whether all identified vulnerabilities have been fixed and ensure that the application meets the organization’s security standards. 
  • Finally, SAST can support maintenance by ensuring that changes or updates to the application do not introduce new security vulnerabilities so it remains secure and compliant.
One does not simply deploy a web application without security testing meme

Key considerations for running a SAST test

If you’re new to SAST, here are some key considerations before getting started and what to expect before, during, and after a SAST test:

Before using SAST

  • Understand the purpose of SAST: now that you know what SAST is, establish your end goal to clarify whether this method fits the bill for you.
  • Gather your resources: you will need time, developers, and tools to start with SAST. Talk to your team to ensure you can allocate sufficient resources to the project.
  • Select your tools: consider whether your selected SAST tool has the ability to understand your coding language and underlying frameworks of choice. SAST is language-specific, which can make it challenging to find an appropriate SAST tool if your organization uses many different languages or less common ones. 
  • Create the scanning infrastructure: to start running your SAST tests, set up your test environment, configure your tool, and define your scanning policies.
SAST Tools

During SAST

  • Customize your SAST tool to meet its specific needs, such as configuring settings and integrating with your other tools in the DevSecOps pipeline
  • Prioritize applications to scan based on risk and criticality
  • Onboard applications onto the SAST tool
  • Deploy the SAST tool to the necessary systems and environments

After a SAST test

  • Analyze scan results and identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses in the code
  • Prioritize detected issues based on severity and risk to start remediating them
  • Provide governance and training to the necessary stakeholders, ensuring that SAST is integrated into their governance policies and processes
  • Repeat! You should regularly run SAST tests and incorporate them into your DevSecOps pipeline. Do continuously monitor and improve your SAST process based on feedback and results.

How to run a SAST test

Let’s look step-by-step at what these recommendations look like in practice. We’ll be using NodeJsScan, an open-source static security code scanner (SAST) for NodeJS applications. By following these simple seven steps, you can use SAST to quickly identify and prioritize security vulnerabilities in your NodeJS applications.

Step 1: Install

To install NodeJsScan, you need to clone it from the official GitHub repository. Download the latest release, then unzip the package to a directory of your choice. If you use the command line, then run the code below inside the desired directory.

git clone

Step 2: Create your environment

Using the command prompt, enter the following commands in order to create the virtual environment for the scanner.

cd nodejsscan
python -m venv venv
cd ./venv/Scripts
pip install -r requirements.txt

python recreate-db # Run once to create database schema

Step 3: Run the app

Run the scanner using the command below.


This will run the Nodejsscan web user interface at

Alternatively, you could use the below Docker commands in the command line to run the application on Docker.

docker pull opensecurity/nodejsscan:latest

docker run -it -p 9090:9090 opensecurity/nodejsscan:latest
 Nodejsscan web user interface

Step 4: Upload what needs to be scanned

Now you could either upload a zip file containing the NodeJS application or provide the git repository in the above web interface to scan for security vulnerabilities.

upload a zip file containing the NodeJS application

Here, we used a GitHub repository where the backend was built on NodeJS.

Step 5: Analysis

The tool will now begin analyzing the code in the repository. This may take a few minutes, depending on the size of the project. Once the analysis is complete, you will be automatically navigated to the analytics page.

Step 6: Review findings

Review findings Nodejsscan

Here you can review what the tool has found, including the number of files scanned, number of issues detected, and the types of issues found in the repository.

Findings Summary NodeJSScan

The types of vulnerabilities can be seen in the above image with a severity tag whether it’s an error, a warning, or just extra information for your reference.

Javascript Issues NodeJsScan

NodeJsScan provides a detailed description of the vulnerability and its impact on the application’s security. Clicking on the vulnerability type allows you to view details, learn more about a specific vulnerability, and view the code block that needs fixing.

NodeJsScan provides a detailed description

Step 7: Examine the results

The detailed vulnerability description will include information about the data flow. Review the data flow to understand how the vulnerability can impact the application’s security. Note that SAST solutions do not perform runtime analysis, meaning that they can’t discern real threats from false positives. Flagged vulnerabilities must be analyzed to determine whether they represent real security risks. 

Keep on monitoring and protecting your assets

Granted: SAST solutions enable developers to shift-left security by performing vulnerability analysis earlier in the SDLC, with real-time feedback on their code’s quality. But SAST is not a perfect solution. 

NodeJsScan can only perform SAST scans on NodeJS applications, and it cannot scan applications written on other frameworks and libraries. Additionally, SAST solutions are not designed to analyze a running application, leaving them blind to configuration errors and runtime vulnerabilities. Scans need to be performed after every code update to help developers learn from mistakes and develop more secure code moving forward. 
To further enhance the security of our CI/CD pipelines, we have developed specialized tools such as Spectral for CodeBuild Security, which continuously scans the entire SDLC for hard-coded secrets, keys, and misconfigured code that could lead to security vulnerabilities. Create a free account to learn more.

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