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Secure Code Training vs. Code Scanning Tools

Secure Code Training vs. Code Scanning Tools

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According to the EMA research, 69.3% of organizations have SDLCs (Software Development Lifecycle) that miss critical security steps. With a growing number of vulnerabilities, organizations are looking into how they can secure their SDLC.  

At Security Journey, our mission is to make coding securely a more lasting and engrained habit. Our team of experts work with developers across industries to ensure security is baked into their app development from the beginning to reduce the vulnerability surface.  

This article will review the differences between code scanning tools and secure code training, along with the pros and cons of each solution. 


Secure Coding Training 

Secure coding training programs teach developers the necessary skills to prevent vulnerabilities and mitigate risk. The best security education programs teach development teams security principles to ensure that developers acquire the skills needed to secure applications during the development phase proactively.  

The EMA study showed that 60.1% of organizations adopting continuous training realized great improvements in their code security, while only 3% did not see any improvement. 

Examples of secure coding training programs include: 

Read More: Is Secure Coding Training a Better Investment Than Code Scanning Tools for Reducing Application Vulnerabilities? 


Pros of Secure Coding Training 

  • Continuous training will build a culture of security that can reach across the SDLC 
  • Duration of product development is reduced or optimized, saving time and money 
  • Lower or eliminate costs to remediate code vulnerabilities by coding securely from the start 

Cons of Secure Coding Training 

  • Training time can take employees away from billable projects 
  • Poorly designed training can be ineffective, wasting time and money 

Secure Coding Training is the best option when you want to train your developers (and all SDLC employees) on secure coding and if your organization is ready to invest in the long-term results of a working security culture. 


Code Scanning Tools 

Code Scanning Tools, also known as Source Code Analysis Tools, are programs designed to test and analyze code to identify bugs and vulnerabilities before the computer program or application gets pushed live. They are an important part of most software security programs, also providing teams with a way to report their progress on eliminating vulnerabilities.  

Examples of code scanning tools include: 

  • HCL AppScan 
  • Insight AppSec by Rapid7 
  • GitLab SAST

Since Code Scanning Tools evaluate code after it’s written, the main goal is to catch mistakes – rather than prevent them. In a recent EMA report, only 10% of organizations reported having prevented a higher percentage of vulnerabilities than organizations not using code scanning tools. 

 EMA Report 2023


There are three types of Code Scanning Tools based on whether the tool is static or dynamic. 

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST) - designed to analyze the source code of an application and spot potential issues in the early development stages 
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) - examine a running web application from outside, simulating an actual attack just like a penetration test 
  • Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) - analyze the source code of the web application while it is running to identify more vulnerabilities with a lower rate of false positives 

Read More: SAST vs. DAST vs. IAST 

Pros of Code Scanning Tools 

  • Code Scanning Tools have the ability to analyze a large codebase repeatedly and continuously
  • Errors and vulnerabilities are revealed with the exact location in the code 

Cons of Code Scanning Tools 

  • Code scanning tools can produce a large number of false positives causing developers to ignore their warnings 
  • Code scanning tools often miss critical security issues that promote a false sense of security 
  • Developers or testers have the responsibility to identify and fix the faulty code 
  • These tools may not cover 100% of the application, which means they can miss some vulnerabilities in less-obvious features 
  • Language features and frameworks often outpace code scanners and allow security issues to go undetected 

Code Scanning Tools are best used when you have security-trained developers and want to add an extra evaluation tool to double-check their work. 


Secure Code Training vs. Code Scanning Tools 

Now that we’ve reviewed secure coding training and code scanning tools, which is best for your SDLC? 

After reviewing the data, EMA believes the best approach to secure software development is a combination of code reviews, code scanning tools, and a stronger emphasis on continuous, third-party training. 

It’s better for developers to write secure code initially than to hope that a code scanning tool will catch the vulnerability before it makes it to production – especially when only 10% of organizations utilizing code scanning tools prevent more vulnerabilities than those without. Code scanning tools should only supplement secure coding efforts and not be the critical wheel in the system, especially when almost 70% of organizations are struggling with even basic security SDLCs. 


A Match Made in Heaven? 

Across all industry verticals, software development must shift its focus away from heavily relying on code scanning tools and more on people and processes. 100% of organizations using a combination of code reviews, code-scanning tools, and third-party training saw improvement in their code security. 

With the Security Journey AppSec Education Program, you can leverage the data from your SAST/DAST and bug bounty tools by integrating them with your application security training platform and prioritizing training for the most critical vulnerabilities in your organization.