Why speed matters in Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Frank Fischer

August 20, 2021

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Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools automatically scan application source code for vulnerabilities. These tools can provide essential security feedback during development, but this feedback is really only helpful if the scans are in real time.

In this post, we’ll discuss why speed is critical for SAST tools and how Snyk Codecombines speed with accuracy and breadth to deliver a dramatic improvement in the security posture of an application.

The importance of speed for SAST tooling

When it comes to choosing a SAST tool, in-depth and accurate results are crucial, but the full benefits of security testing can only be realized if the tool is developer-friendly as well. A key component of this “developer-friendly” requirement is speed. Here are three ways speed impacts the effectiveness of a SAST tool.


As companies adopt a DevSecOps approach, where security is integrated directly into the development process, the speed of security tooling becomes critical. While developers often have the perception that secure tools will slow them down, the right tool can actually shorten the development lifecycle and improve development velocity.

By tightening the feedback loop for vulnerabilities, developers can remediate issues on the spot so that they don’t need to wait for security teams to request fixes later on. The challenge is ensuring that developers have real-time security feedback, which requires a fast SAST tool.

Usability and adoption

When developers consider the usability of security tools, they want to know if they’ll be able to push code at the same cadence as before. For example, a SAST tool that takes several minutes to provide results will likely cause developers to either push code less frequently or scan their code less often. Neither of these are ideal for the organization.

If developers aren’t getting real-time feedback directly within their existing workflows, there’s likely going to be friction. Developers are much more likely to use security tools that are fast enough to integrate into their automated CI/CD pipelines.


The most convenient SAST tools are fast enough to offer instantaneous feedback while developers are coding. At this point, the code is top-of-mind for the developer, so they can more easily remediate the issue on the spot without much additional effort.

When security teams notify a developer about a vulnerability weeks or months later, developers would need to rebuild the code context in their head before they can implement a fix. That’s why a fast SAST tool is much more convenient to use during development.

Snyk Code: Speed, accuracy, and breadth

Snyk Code is a developer-friendly SAST tool that prioritizes speed using a proprietary constraint engine, proving to be one of the fastest semantic scanning engines on the market. In fact, we recently tested the scanning tool against two competitors, and the results revealed that Snyk Code is on average 5-14x faster than these alternatives.

In terms of efficiency, Snyk Code provides IDE plugins to embed the tool seamlessly into developer workflows without any disruptions. This enables development teams to release more secure code and higher quality software faster than ever. By fitting into existing workflows rather than adding new ones, Snyk Code reduces friction and encourages adoption by developers.

Besides speed, however, Snyk Code prioritizes accuracy and breadth. Using its proprietary Snyk Intel Vulnerability Database, the SAST tool can provide up-to-date vulnerability information curated by an experienced security research team. The scan results – powered by Snyk’s real-time semantic code analysis engine – surfaces security issues enriched with context-aware argumentation and helpful explanations of the findings. In addition, Snyk Code not only provides a list of vulnerabilities, but also offers actionable insights for prioritizing remediation.

An effective SAST tool strikes the right balance of speed, accuracy, and breadth so that development teams can integrate security directly into their existing workflows. This is the best way to ensure developer adoption and improve the security posture of an application without slowing development.

Check out our SAST buyers guide  to help you choose the right SAST tool for your organization.

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