Security tools help software development teams proactively identify and mitigate application vulnerabilities. By detecting and fixing security issues early in the development process, they can reduce the risk of security breaches once applications are deployed, which can protect the reputation of their products and maintain trust with users. This guide will break down the following top security tools for developers in terms of their features, pros, cons and pricing:
- SonarQube: A great choice for developers needing an open-source static application security testing tool to enhance security and code quality.
- OWASP ZAP: Ideal for developers needing an open-source dynamic application security testing tool for detecting security problems in web applications.
- Ansible: A solid pick for developers seeking an open-source security automation tool to save time and streamline their processes.
- OWASP ZAP
- What to look for in security tools for developers
- Final thoughts on the top security tools for developers
Developers can use SonarQube to inspect security and code quality on a continuous basis. The open-source static application security testing tool provides static code analysis, duplicate code and vulnerability detection, multi-language support and automation via CI/CD integration.
Features of SonarQube
Some of SonarQube’s most noteworthy features as a developer tool for security are:
- Static code analysis.
- Support for multiple programming languages.
- Quality gates.
- Code smell detection.
- Comprehensive reporting.
- CI/CD integration.
SonarQube’s static code analysis helps developers spot source code vulnerabilities, quality issues and coding violations. The DevSecOps tool supports many programming languages and lets developers construct quality gates in CI/CD pipelines.
Its code smells and technical debt detection help keep code easy to maintain, and the programming tool also offers comprehensive reporting on code quality, technical debt and vulnerabilities. SonarQube’s integrations with CI/CD pipelines and other third-party tools are another feature worth mentioning.
Pros of SonarQube
SonarQube’s pros include:
- Supports multiple languages.
- Solid integrations.
- Improves code quality.
Software development teams looking to save money can enjoy SonarQube’s open-source Community Edition at no cost. The programmer tool supports many programming languages and offers DevSecOps functionality through its integrations with CI/CD pipelines. Developers can also enhance code quality through SonarQube’s bug, vulnerability and code smell detection.
Cons of SonarQube
SonarQube’s cons include:
- Time-consuming setup.
- Documentation for beginners.
- Need for verification.
Those new to security tools will probably find SonarQube’s setup and configuration quite complex and time-consuming. This issue could be alleviated with better documentation, which SonarQube lacks. Another knock on the developer tool is that it can lead to false positives that trigger added verification tasks for security and development teams.
Pricing of SonarQube
SonarQube has four pricing plans to choose from:
- Community Edition: Open-source and free to use.
- Developer Edition: Starts at $150 annually for a maximum analysis of 100,000 lines of code.
- Enterprise Edition: Starts at $20,000 annually for a maximum analysis of one million lines of code.
- Data Center Edition: Starting at $130,000 per year for a maximum analysis of 20 million lines of code.
The Community Edition offers support for 19 programming languages, static code analysis, CI/CD integration, security hotspots, code smell tracking, basic bug/vulnerability detection and over 50 community plugins. The Developer Edition supports additional languages and includes pull request analysis, advanced vulnerability detection and feature/maintenance branch analysis. Enterprise includes support for extra programming languages, portfolio management, parallel processing of analysis reports, project PDF/security reports, regulatory reports and project transfer. The Data Center Edition offers horizontal scalability, component redundancy and data resiliency.
OWASP (the Open Worldwide Application Security Project) is a nonprofit foundation that aims to enhance software security. It offers several free open-source application security tools under its umbrella, with ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy) being one of the most popular. OWASP ZAP is a web application security scanner that is open-source, free to use and user-friendly. Developers can use ZAP to detect a wide range of vulnerabilities via automated and manual scanning.
Features of OWASP ZAP
Some of OWASP ZAP’s top features include:
- Automated scans.
- Passive scans.
- Active scans.
- Fuzz testing.
- Intercept proxy.
- Detailed reports.
ZAP’s automated web application scans can search for common security vulnerabilities to help developers spot and fix issues early in development. Its passive scans work well for catching issues automated scans may miss, and its active scans simulate real-world attacks to assess application resiliency.
OWASP ZAP’s fuzz testing or fuzzing sends unexpected data to the app to spot potential vulnerabilities, while its intercept proxy feature spots vulnerabilities that are invisible to the end user. The programmer tool also offers detailed reporting that offers insights for quick issue fixes, plus third-party integrations with automated testing workflows, CI/CD pipelines and other widely used tools.
Pros of OWASP ZAP
OWASP ZAP has become a popular developer tool for security due to the following advantages it provides:
- Free to use.
- Active following.
- Third-party integrations.
- Custom scripts.
OWASP ZAP’s biggest advantage for many is its open-source nature, which makes it free to download and use. The programmer tool’s large community gives users added support, resources, extensions, etc. Third-party integrations with automated testing workflows and CI/CD pipelines make ZAP a perfect fit for DevSecOps teams. Developers who place a premium on customization will enjoy the ability to create custom testing scripts.
Cons of OWASP ZAP
While it offers many advantages, OWASP ZAP has some disadvantages too, such as:
- Possible added work.
- Gaps in coverage.
- High resource usage.
- Excessive output.
One of the biggest reasons developers choose automated security testing tools is to save time and minimize work. Unfortunately, OWASP ZAP tends to produce false positives, which increases the workload of development and security teams since they must verify the existence of vulnerabilities manually. Another ZAP disadvantage is the need for additional coverage. Its DAST capabilities can spot a wide range of security issues, but not all, and should be paired with SAST or manual penetration testing for more complete coverage. Lastly, OWASP ZAP may have high resource consumption that negatively impacts app performance.
Pricing of OWASP ZAP
OWASP ZAP is an open-source security testing tool, which makes it free to download and use. This is one reason why OWASP ZAP is a popular security tool for developers, especially those with limited budgets.
Red Hat Ansible is a popular open-source automation platform that helps teams accelerate and scale their operational processes. Development teams can use the DevOps tool to automate testing, configuration management, application deployment and other complex IT tasks.
Features of Ansible
Red Hat Ansible’s security automation features include:
- Multi-platform support.
- Playbook syntax.
- 750+ automation modules.
- Reusable roles.
- Command support.
- Various security uses.
- Incident response.
Ansible lets developers seamlessly automate across multiple environments thanks to its support for multiple platforms and cloud providers. Its security integrations include top providers such as Splunk, Fortinet, Check Point and IBM Security, but you can also integrate Ansible with other infrastructure, network and DevOps tools, such as Jenkins, Travis CI and TeamCity.
Ansible’s Playbook syntax makes it easy to define systems for security, allowing you to lock down users/groups, apply custom security policies, set firewall rules and more. Its library of over 750 automation modules eliminates the need for complex scripts to perform tasks quickly, and its reusable roles save time by letting you write automation procedures once and apply them to your complete infrastructure. Should you need to apply a vendor’s security patch, you can do so quickly with one simple command. And should you need to automate a wide range of security tasks, Ansible can help with intrusion detection and prevention systems, privileged access management tools, enterprise firewalls, endpoint protection platforms, security information and event management systems and more. Teams can also respond to incidents faster by using historical security events as context and automating suspicious workloads, blocklists and allowlists.
Pros of Ansible
Red Hat Ansible’s strengths include:
- Minimized setup.
- Easy to use.
Since Ansible is an open-source security automation tool, it offers developers plenty of customization to fit their unique needs. And while you can use Ansible to automate security, you can also use the developer tool to automate other complex IT operations for maximum flexibility. Ansible’s agentless architecture streamlines the setup process by eliminating the need to install software on each system you want to automate. And once you pass the simple setup, you will likely realize that Ansible is also quite easy to use.
Cons of Ansible
Red Hat Ansible’s weaknesses include:
- Limited documentation.
- Lacks CI/CD out of the box.
- Complicated integrations.
While automating security with Ansible can help you save money in the long run, some development teams with limited budgets may find the tool expensive. The security tool’s documentation is limited, and it also lacks integrated CI/CD functionality. If you try to integrate Ansible with other third-party developer tools for added functionality, it can be a challenge.
Pricing of Ansible
Unfortunately, Red Hat Ansible does not advertise its specific prices on the pricing page. To get pricing, you must get a custom quote from a Red Hatter or an authorized partner. That price will depend on the subscription you choose and your team’s size. Ansible offers two subscriptions:
The Standard plan offers all of Ansible’s features, maintenance, upgrades and support during normal business hours. The Premium plan adds 24/7 support. Besides choosing between the Standard and Premium plans, developers can choose between managed or self-managed deployment options.
What to look for in security tools for developers
With so many developer security tools on the market, it is important to know what to look for so you can make the right choice. Check for security tool compatibility with your IDE, CI/CD pipeline, version control system and other tools you use to ensure smooth adoption. Read reviews and look for details on user-friendliness, updates, customer support and the community.
If your budget is limited, look for open-source security tools that are free to use. Customization, compliance, flexibility and scalability are important, as is vulnerability coverage. And look for common security tool features like automation, real-time feedback, remediation guidance, reporting and alerts.
Final thoughts on the top security tools for developers
The security tools listed above can help developers save time, increase productivity, cut costs and more by keeping their software secure. Before choosing a security tool for your software development team, make sure it fits your needs in terms of price, user-friendliness and features.
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