Cyberattacks and data breaches can be devastating to businesses. In 2023, the average global cost of a breach has gone up to a whopping $4.45 million. A recent report revealed that poor-quality software costs U.S. organizations a staggering $2.41 trillion. The global costs are likely to be much higher. A majority of these costs are due to vulnerabilities in the codebase and OSS, resulting in cybercrimes and software supply chain problems. To avoid these costs and prevent potential damage to their reputations, market positions, and bottom lines, organizations must make security an integral part of their culture, strategy, and operations. One of the critical steps to preventing breaches is to strengthen the development process by implementing the “Secure by Design” methodology for software development.

One of these processes has brought a paradigm shift in the secure-by-design process in security-centric DevSecOps approach to development. In DevSecOps, security testing is not an afterthought occurring only at the end of app development. Rather, security is integrated with development and operations and shifted to the “left” of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This shift-left testing paradigm results in the development and delivery of high-quality, secure-by-design applications.

Numerous tools are available that make it easy for teams to adopt DevSecOps, shift security to the left, and ultimately, deliver secure-by-design software. This article will explore three such types of tools.

What is Shift-left Testing?

Shift-left testing literally means performing security testing activities earlier, i.e. to the left of the SDLC. Testing happens earlier and more frequently throughout the SDLC instead of towards the end, ensuring that security flaws are discovered and fixed early. Also, testers, security specialists, development, and operations teams work closely together to collectively improve the application’s security and quality.

Adding security considerations at every stage of the SDLC empowers software organizations to design and deploy secure-by-design applications. These applications are more resistant to data breaches and cyberattacks, allowing user organizations to protect their business-critical assets from code vulnerabilities or run-time issues.

The Benefits of Shift-left Testing

DevSecOps, with its focus on early and frequent (aka shift-left testing), enables software teams to identify and fix issues early in the SDLC. This allows them to deliver software that’s secure from the outset, improving customer satisfaction and boosting their own reputation and revenues.

In contrast, when testing is only done after development ends, it is more difficult and costly to fix any discovered findings. Fixes can also take longer because more code updates are required, especially if major vulnerabilities are discovered. Furthermore, if the code is to be reworked from scratch, it increases development time, lengthens the application release cycle, and delays time-to-market.

Incorporating security considerations from the earliest stages of the SDLC ensures several benefits for not only the security team but also engineering, leading to better developer productivity and reduced vulnerabilities. The increase in test coverage also leads to reduced costs and efforts, which ensures more issues are caught and fixed before deployment. Following are a few additional benefits of incorporating DevSecOps:

  • Security issues can be identified while the code is still under development leading to vulnerabilities being caught early, reducing the cost and time of A research by IBM suggests that it takes on average $7,600 to fix defects and vulnerabilities discovered later in SDLC, a whopping 95 times more than the cost of fixing vulnerabilities earlier in the development cycle.
  • Test coverage increases, ensuring that more issues are caught and fixed pre-deployment. Shift-left practices like static code analysis and unit testing identify vulnerabilities 80% earlier in the development cycle, saving time and money fixing them later.
  • Developers focused on secure coding practices spend less time fixing vulnerabilities, freeing them to innovate and deliver exciting new features faster.
  • Continuous feedback results in a high-quality and stable codebase, and therefore, a high-quality
  • The testing process is shorter and faster, accelerating the SDLC and product time-to
  • Integrating security from the start streamlines compliance with regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, reducing fines and reputational damage.
  • In an increasingly security-conscious market, organizations that prioritize shift-left SDLC stand out as trustworthy and reliable, attracting customers and partners.
  • Shift-left practices like data encryption and access control built into applications from the beginning significantly reduce the risk of data breaches.
  • By establishing a culture of security throughout the SDLC, organizations are better equipped to adapt to evolving threats and technologies.

Adopting shift-left testing also helps software organizations to build a security-aware culture where teams adopt and follow security best practices during application coding, testing, operations, and deployment. They can also implement appropriate controls to ensure that products comply with data protection, security, and user privacy regulations.

Tools that support and optimize Shift-left Testing

As we have seen, shift-left testing creates multiple benefits for both software organizations and their customer organizations. Teams looking to shift security testing to the left can choose from three main types of tools to automatically detect, report, and remediate security issues:

1.  Static application security testing (SAST)

SAST tools analyze an application’s source code to find the security vulnerabilities that make it susceptible to attacks. These tools can be leveraged to identify vulnerabilities early in the SDLC since they don’t require a “working” application.

The key benefits of SAST tools are:

  • Provides real-time feedback during coding, aiding with early issue fixes
  • Suitable for continuous integrations and frequent builds since they can be run repeatedly and at any scale
  • Can identify commonly-exploited vulnerabilities like SQL injections and buffer overflows
  • Provides graphical issue representations and actionable guidance to simplify code navigation and speed up issue fixes
  • Shareable/downloadable reports and dashboards simplify issue tracking and remediation

Here’s the list of top 10 SAST tools.

1.  Dynamic application security testing (DAST)

DAST is known as black box testing because the testers have no visibility into the source code and no knowledge of the application’s design or interactions. Testers use DAST tools to examine the app’s running state and test its security from outside the network by simulating automated attacks on it. The goal is to understand how the app would appear to a real, possibly malicious threat actor. After simulating the attack, they review its responses to determine its areas of vulnerability and security posture.

DAST tools offer the following benefits:

  • Can discover runtime vulnerabilities, including server configuration errors, code injections, and cross-site scripting (XSS) flaws
  • Can be used further in the SDLC on running applications, even in preproduction and production environments
  • Generate useful reports to expedite vulnerability assessments and remediations

Here’s the list of top 10 DAST tools:


SAST and DAST tools both have their limitations. For instance, SAST can’t discover runtime issues while DAST can. On the other hand, DAST requires a running application, so vulnerabilities are only discovered towards the end of the SDLC and are therefore more expensive to fix. Due to these limitations, the tools complement each other and it’s best to use both for comprehensive shift-left testing.

1.  Software composition analysis (SCA)

SCA is a crucial enabler of the shift-left paradigm in modern DevSecOps environments. SCA tools automatically identify open-source software (OSS) in a codebase and compare the discovered OSS against multiple vulnerability databases. They thus help teams to analyze code quality and license compliance, and discover if it contains any critical security or legal vulnerabilities.

Automated SCA tools offer the following benefits:

  • Automatically identify OSS in a codebase and any inherent vulnerabilities, eliminating the need for manual tracking and analysis
  • Ideal for testing applications that contain large amounts of OSS, including cloud-native applications
  • Enable teams to maintain high development velocity without compromising app security

The best SCA tools enable secure application development and help create more secure software supply chains. These include:

  • Veracode
  • Synopsys
  • Mend
  • Revenera
  • Synk
  • Timesys Vigiles
  • Nexus Repository
  • GitHub Dependabot
  • Checkmarx SCA
  • Arnica


In the current environment, Secure Software Development (SSDLC) is not an after-thought but the need for organizations to reduce cost, find and fix vulnerabilities earlier in the development process and improve the overall quality of the product. The most reliable and effective way to prevent and mitigate these problems is to thoroughly test applications from the earliest stages of the SDLC. Here’s where DevSecOps and shift-left testing come in. And with the right tools for SAST, DAST, and SCA, modern software teams and organizations can freely and confidently shift security to the left and garner all its benefits.

As noted, there is substantial benefit to reduce the costs and improve the overall security of the software by introducing DevSecOps methodology in software development for your organization. Contact us today at to begin or improve your DevSecOps journey with our experts.