7 Key Types of Application Security Testing Tools

The world of cybersecurity can sometimes seem bewildering, especially in terms of the vendor offerings out there. The sheer number of products often is overwhelming.

Here is a list of 7 available offerings in the application security space. Let us try to define what each category means below.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

SAST is a category of analytical techniques focused on examining source code before compilation. Generally, this can only be done by the given application vendor, as most software licenses forbid end-users from decompiling or reverse engineering products. Common tools include:

• Veracode Static Code Analysis
• SonarSource SonarQube
• Checkmarx SAST
• HCL AppScan Source
• Contrast Security Scan
• Sonatype Lift
• Micro Focus Fortify Static Code Analyzer
• Snyk Code
• Secure Code Warrior Sensei
• Apiiro Code Risk Assessment

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

DAST tools operate on running code in a “black box” fashion (e.g., with no knowledge of its inner working), attempting to identify exploitable vulnerabilities. IT security teams use the following products to check susceptibilities in their network applications.

• Micro Focus WebInspect
• Rapid7 InsightAppSec
• Invicti Acunetix
• PortSwigger BurpSuite
• HCL AppScan Standard
• StackHawk DAST
• Probely Enterprise DAST

Web Application Vulnerability Scanners

These tools have quite a bit of overlap with DAST solutions, as they both approach applications from a “black box” perspective. Additionally, although the boundaries are blurring as more organizations transition to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, DAST tools are more commonly used by development and applications security teams. The below means are more frequently employed by operations and information technology (IT) organizations. Commonly used ones include:

• Tenable Nessus
• Rapid7 InsightVM
• Qualys VMDR
• Intruder.io
• Detectify
• Shodan Small Business

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)

A newer category of cybersecurity tooling, IAST, is a hybrid approach that combines aspects of both SAST and DAST. Essentially, following the deployment of sensors to a running web application, IAST tools then simulate attacks against it while observing the behavior of the source code. Examples include:

• Contrast Security Assess
• Synopsys Seeker
• Hdiv Detection IAST
• Checkmarx IAST
• Invicti Netsparker

Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

SCA tools analyze software components to determine what components it comprises and any known vulnerabilities. These products use public sources such as the National Vulnerability Database and proprietary vulnerability lists to make such determinations. However, the mere presence of a known vulnerability in a given component does not necessarily mean that it is at risk of being exploited, as much such security bugs are only exploitable in a minority of deployment configurations. The major SCA offerings are:

• Synopsys Black Duck
• Sonatype Nexus Lifecycle
• WhiteSource
• Contrast Security OSS
• Snyk Open Source
• Ion Channel
• Phylum
• Hdiv Detection SCA

Container Security

It could be argued that containers security tools are just a subset of SCA products, as they offer similar capabilities – identifying the presence of known issues in third-party components, mainly operating systems packaged with containerized software. What makes these tools different is that some of them also remember misconfiguration in containers that are not necessarily associated with an inherently vulnerable piece of software. Such misconfigurations include residual default, excess permissions, and other anti-patterns that allow attackers greater movement freedom. Offerings include:

• Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud
• Sonatype Nexus Container
• Snyk Container
• Cisco Portshift
• Aqua Security Container
• Qualys Container Security
• Anchore Enterprise
• NeuVector Container Security
• Red Hat Advanced Cluster Security for Kubernetes
• Sysdig Secure
• Trend Micro CloudOne
• VMware Carbon Black Cloud
• Lacework Container Security
• Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Container Registry (ECR) Clair

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security

An emerging category mainly applicable to cloud-hosted environments, IaC security tools help identify misconfigurations in the deployment infrastructure for software applications rather than these applications themselves. The list below are some of the industry leaders:

• Apiiro Inventory & Asset Discovery
• Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud
• Snyk IaC
• Rapid7 InsightCloudSec
• Lacework Terraform modules and CloudFormation templates for AWS


The competitive landscape of application security tooling is constantly shifting, and vendors will evolve. With that said, expect a revised list at some point, potentially with one or more new categories.

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