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What Is Code Scanning?

Code Scanning Definition

Code scanning is the process of examining code to identify bugs, errors, and security flaws. Any issues found are displayed, enabling you to address them quickly and enhance the security of your application.

Code scanning can help you identify, classify, and prioritize repairs for bugs that are already present in your code. Scanners can be set to run on specified days and times or during specific development events, such as certain sprints where the team is particularly concerned about vulnerabilities impacting the safety of an application or leaving it open to a cyberattack.

How Does Code Scanning Find Security Vulnerabilities and Coding Errors?

What is code scanning when it comes to finding errors and vulnerabilities? Code scanning tools review the code in the current iteration of your application. It highlights potential issues that developers may want to address before continuing with the app-building process.

Code scanning can use threat intelligence to identify vulnerabilities in code that other threats have taken advantage of. This makes it a key element of a development team’s cybersecurity strategy.

The scanning can be done while the application is in a static state, or not running, as well as when it is in a dynamic state, or running. While performing a static scan, the scanner examines the source code, looking for potential loopholes that attackers can take advantage of. During a dynamic code scan, the app is running and the scanning process checks whether the app is vulnerable to typical threats like SQL injection or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

Benefits of Secure Code Scanning

There are different types of honeypots, each designed for different production or research purposes.

Vulnerability Detection During Development

Due to the difficulty of creating and disseminating software patches, fixing vulnerabilities in an application that is already deployed is costly and time-consuming. Additionally, there is a chance that production-related vulnerabilities will be exploited. Code scanning makes it possible to find vulnerabilities and fix them before the application gets released, removing the cybersecurity threats they present.

Fewer False Positives and Errors

Code scanning integrates several application security testing techniques. This aids in removing false positive detections, allowing security teams and developers to concentrate their efforts on addressing the real dangers to application security. Also, with fewer false positives and errors, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to work through an application's apparent weaknesses. As a result, you can produce safer, more stable applications in less time.


Code scanning can integrate both open-source and proprietary static application security testing (SAST) solutions into a single cloud-native solution. Additionally, it can be linked with external scanning engines so that scan results may be exported using a single application programming interface (API). This provides you with visibility into the results of multiple security tools at the same time because they can be presented on a single screen.

Improving Infrastructure Security

Code scanning verifies all of an application's code, including any dependencies that might present issues. This helps ensure the safety of a company's software and network. For example, if there's a vulnerability in a database an application pulls information from, all aspects of your network that interface with the app can be exposed to additional risk. But you limit the risk to your infrastructure every time a code scanning process pinpoints potential vulnerabilities.

Providing Actionable Insights

When analyzing code, code scanning only executes the actionable security rules developers dictate instead of running a general scan that looks for a wide range of issues. In this way, developers can concentrate on the task at hand because the alert volume is reduced, eliminating unnecessary noise.

Code Scanning Approaches

There are four primary code scanning approaches: software composition analysis (SCA), static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), and interactive application security testing (IAST).

Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

As the use of open-source elements grows, it is important to carefully examine each open-source component from a security perspective. SCA, or software composition analysis, helps teams meet this objective. SCA tools scan the open-source version of an application, which inform the organization of any potential security threats or vulnerabilities.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Early in the software development lifecycle, static application security testing is often carried out on the source code without actually running it. SAST reviews the way the code is written and points out any security risks. By analyzing the code in real time, it becomes easier for the developer to watch out for any problems that can impact the security of the code. 

Additionally, specific regulations can be included as standards in the SAST process, such as industry norms like Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) or Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

Dynamic application security testing (DAST), in contrast to SAST, is carried out during runtime or black-box testing. DAST simulates attacks to find typical vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and DoS. It is also useful for identifying application and server configuration issues.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)

IAST operates inside the application by "interacting" with it, which sets it apart from SAST. In a quality assurance (QA) or testing environment, the application's functionality is tested in real time. IAST is significantly quicker than SAST since it concentrates on the individual test cases rather than scanning all of the source code. IAST has a low rate of false positives, is highly scalable, and is easy to implement.

How Fortinet Can Help

FortiDevSec, during the development phase of the application lifecycle, automates application security testing to find and fix security flaws in open-source, third-party libraries, and source code. Within the DevOps continuous integration/continuous delivery/continuous deployment (CI/CD) lifecycle, developers can find and fix security issues, thanks to this full SaaS-based continuous application testing solution.

With FortiDevSec, all scan findings are correlated and normalized using threat classification and risk-based prioritization. This saves your organization time and money by making it easier to produce an end product that is more stable and resistant to threats. Further, FortiDevSec provides development teams with remediation tools, which automatically identify and respond to critical threats. As a result, end users get a smoother experience, and the networks the application is connected to are safer.


What is code scanning?

Code scanning examines code and looks for bugs and security flaws. Any issues found are displayed by the system, enabling you to address them quickly and enhance the security of your application.

How does code scanning find security vulnerabilities?

Code scanning tools review the code in the current iteration of your application. It highlights potential issues that developers may want to address before continuing with the app-building process.

What are benefits of secure code scanning?

Code scanning is not dependent on a server to execute its functions.  This gives the development team greater agility to discover and address issues in the applications they are designing.