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5 Best Open-Source Developer-Friendly Product Security Tools in 2024

Empowering developers with top-tier open-source security tools for robust product protection

David Melamed writer profile image
By David Melamed
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Edited by Jit Team

Updated January 22, 2024.

Developer typing on a laptop with open source on the screen searching for security tools

This content is brought to you by Jit—a platform that simplifies continuous security for developers, enabling dev teams to adopt a "minimal viable security" mindset, and build secure cloud apps by design from day 0, progressing iteratively in a just-in-time manner.

As cybersecurity becomes increasingly important in software development, the “shift left” security approach is widely recognized as a best practice for ensuring superior product security. Numerous traditional security firms are introducing shift-left products and capabilities, and the concept is gaining traction.

However, some open-source security tools are more developer-friendly than others. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five security tools that we believe developers should be aware of, providing a brief overview of the top open-source software and explaining why we consider them to be developer-friendly.

The list aims to cover various families of code analysis tools that should be part of some minimal requirements for security:

  • Static application security testing (SAST)
  • Dynamic application security testing (DAST)
  • Hard-coded Secrets detection
  • Infrastructure as Code analysis (IaC)

» Confused? Discover the differences between SAST and DAST

Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Open-Source Product Security Tools

1. Best SAST tool for Python: Pycharm Python Security Scanner

2. Most configurable SAST tool: Semgrep

3. Best for finding secret leaks in code repositories: gitleaks

4. Best web vulnerability scanner: Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

5. Best IaC security scanner: KICS



What Is Open-Source Software?

Open-source software is free, so there is no need for budget approval, allowing you to try out a tool without having to commit to it.

Instead of lengthy selection processes, you can simply try it and see how you like it. In addition, and it is particularly critical for security tools, they let you read the entire source code so that you don't have any surprises regarding what actions the tool is performing when running it in your environment.

» Make sure you're on top of the IaC security essentials

Best SAST tool for Python

1


Outstanding
9.9
a screen shot of a PyCharm Python Security plugin web page

Pycharm Python Security Scanner

Security scanner for python wrapped as a plugin

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Identifying security issues in Python code.


Ease of integration and user experience

The seamless integration of the PyCharm Security Plugin into the PyCharm IDE


Scalability and performance

Analyzing and securing Python codebases within the PyCharm IDE


Community support and documentation

Assists users in effectively using and configuring security features within the PyCharm IDE

Brief Overview

Pycharm Python Security Scanner is a security scanner for Python code wrapped as a Pycharm plugin, checking for vulnerabilities while also suggesting fixes. Alongside acting as a comprehensive security scanner, it also offers some additional extensions that can run dependency check analysis as well.

What makes it unique is that beyond being a plugin, it also available as a CI/CD workflow for GitHub Actions in the Github Marketplace.

Features

  • Over 20 builtin code checks giving your contextual security warnings in your code
  • Misconfiguration warnings for Django and Flask web frameworks
  • Cross-Site-Scripting detection for both Jinja2 and Mako templating engines
  • SQL Injection detection in all Python string formats
  • Automatic reporting of known vulnerabilities and CVEs in your installed Python Packages within PyCharm
  • Detection of security flaws and misconfiguration in 3rd party libraries like Jinja2, Paramiko and Mako
  • Can be used to scan large code bases with inspection profiles
  • Configurable alert levels and warning suppression by file, line, or project
  • Scan code in your CI/CD using Docker

Pros and cons

Contextual security warnings

Web framework misconfiguration warnings

Cross-Site-Scripting (XSS) detection

SQL Injection detection

Automatic reporting of known vulnerabilities

Limited language support

Most configurable SAST tool across various programming languages

2


Outstanding
9.8
a screenshot of a cell phone with the text developers trust findings from

Semgrep

Highly configurable SAST tool

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Effectively identifies security vulnerabilities and adheres to best practices


Ease of integration and user experience

The simplicity of integrating Semgrep into the development workflow


Scalability and performance

Analyzing code in large projects and its performance in delivering results efficiently


Community support and documentation

The level of community support and the comprehensiveness of documentation

Semgrep is a highly-configurable SAST tool for identifying patterns in the syntax tree. It can either run locally using Docker or be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline with Github Actions.

Results are delivered as JSON files, allowing you to pipe the results into other tools, like jq in order to manipulate them.

  • Runs anywhere, from CLI to CI/CD. Findings can be surfaced in developer workflows, their cloud platform, or ingested into your existing tools via API
  • Built with the capabilities needed to enforce any type of AppSec program and designed to let teams tailor these capabilities to their needs
  • Rules are visible to users and their syntax is similar to the source code
  • 10 second median CI scan time
  • AI recommendations for addressing findings
  • Secure existing SDLC processes without slowing them down

Contextual security warnings

Highly configurable rule set

Support for multiple languages

Easy integration into CI/CD pipelines

Active community and regular Updates

Potential learning curve for new users

Best for finding secret leaks in code repositories

3


Excellent
9.7
a screenshot of a gitleaks web page

gitleaks

Protect and discover secrets

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Accurately detect sensitive information and potential security risks in source code repositories through its ruleset


Ease of integration and user experience

The ease with which Gitleaks integrates into CI/CD pipelines


Scalability and performance

Scanning large code repositories and its performance in quickly identifying sensitive information


Community support and documentation

The strength of the Gitleaks community, including active contributors and available documentation for users seeking assistance

Gitleaks is a great project used for detecting very efficiently high-coded secrets based on a configuration file containing hundreds of built-in regex expressions tailored to find API keys of popular SaaS platforms. It can run locally using Docker and or be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline with GitHub Actions.

Results are delivered in various formats and the rules can be easily extended to match your internal patterns.

  • Can detect and prevent hardcoded secrets like passwords, API keys, and tokens in git repos
  • An easy-to-use, all-in-one solution for detecting past or present secrets in your code
  • Can be installed using Homebrew, Docker, or Go
  • Available in binary form for many popular platforms and OS types
  • Can be implemented as a pre-commit hook directly in your repo or as a GitHub action using Gitleaks-Action

Sensitive information detection

Customizable ruleset

Seamless CI/CD integration

Efficient scanning for large repositories

Active community support

Possibility of false positives or negatives

Best manual and automated web vulnerability scanner

4


Excellent
9.6
a screen shot of a Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) web page

Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

Open-source tool for dynamic scanning

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Ensuring effective identification of vulnerabilities in web applications.


Ease of integration and User experience

Configuring and interpreting dynamic application security testing results.


Scalability and performance

Dynamic security testing in web applications, especially in large and complex projects


Community support and documentation

The support and engagement from the OWASP ZAP community, as well as the quality of documentation for setting up and using the tool

OWASPs Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is another open-source tool, used for dynamic scanning (DAST). It can run locally using Docker and is providing a Github workflow to run in the CI/CD pipeline.

The common output for this tool is a report in HTML but you can also get it in JSON using some add-on.

  • ZAP full scan attacks the web application to find additional vulnerabilities
  • Alerts are maintained as a GitHub issue in the corresponding repository, meaning that the script does perform actual "attacks" and can potentially run for a long period of time
  • Full scan can run against a publicly available web application or against a locally available web application
  • A detailed report (available in HTML and Markdown formats) is attached to the workflow run to get more information regarding the identified alerts
  • Use the rules file to ignore false positives that occur during the ZAP scan
  • The action will identify fixed issues or newly raised alerts in consequent scans and update the issue with the required information

Dynamic application security testing

Advanced vulnerability detection

Automated security testing in CI/CD

Integration with GitHub actions

Support from OWASP community

Potential complexity in setup and configuration

Best IaC security scanner

5


Excellent
9.5
a screen shot of a KICS web page

KICS

Code static analysis of infrastructure

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Identifying security issues and misconfigurations in Infrastructure as Code (IaC) projects


Ease of integration and user experience

The ease of integration of KICS into the IaC development process and the user experience in configuring and interpreting scan results


Scalability and performance

Scanning and analyzing Infrastructure as Code projects, and its performance in handling large and diverse IaC codebases


Community support and documentation

The presence of a supportive community around KICS, and the availability of documentation for users to effectively implement and utilize the tool

KICS (Keeping Infrastructure as Code Secure) is an open-source project by Checkmarx, dedicated to fortifying the security of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). As a crucial element in contemporary DevOps, IaC enables organizations to codify and oversee infrastructure.

KICS responds to the escalating security demands in this area by delivering a robust static analysis tool crafted specifically for IaC scripts.

  • KICS conducts thorough security scans for IaC scripts, identifying vulnerabilities and misconfigurations
  • Offers compatibility with major cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud for widespread cloud infrastructure security
  • Fosters community collaboration, allowing customization through an extensible architecture
  • Seamlessly integrates into CI/CD pipelines for automated security checks during development
  • Utilizes a robust query language for defining security and compliance checks, tailoring scans to specific requirements

Comprehensive IaC security

Extensive rule library

Easy integration

Scalability

Active community support

Learning curve for new users



What Else Makes a Tool Developer-Friendly?

To us, a dev-friendly tool makes developers' (and dev leaders') lives easier by either making tasks simpler or speeding up processes.

1. They Run Locally First

Running code locally from your terminal allows software developers to launch and test code with one simple command. The ability to run a tool locally ensures that you can get immediate feedback and easily tweak the configuration. When launched from a container, you don't even have to bother with possible environmental issues related to compilation.

2. They Integrate With the CI/CD Pipeline

Tools that can be integrated into the CI/CD security pipeline have a higher value. We believe that once a tool has been used locally and has its usefulness verified, we'd like to run it continuously as part of the development lifecycle—and not only on our local machines using up local resources.

Of course, once a tool and process is part of the pipeline, the benefits are also extended across the entire dev team and codebase.

3. They Form Part of the Developer Work Environment

Developers should not be wasting time switching between development tools and security tools. All the tools on this list either run in the CI/CD pipeline (e.g. Github Actions) or as a plugin into the IDE.

4. They Have Great Documentation

Readily available documentation made for dev professionals can make or break smooth usage. With great “how-to” documentation, ramp-up and troubleshoot time is much shorter.

5. They Allow You to Configure the Output Format

If you can output the results of a certain tool in multiple formats, you then allow yourself to pipe results into another tool through an API or other form of integration. If results are only readable by humans, what you can then do with those results is limited and requires human effort and wasted time.



Adopting a “Born Left” Over “Shift Left” Approach

The industry is beginning to understand that merely “shifting left” is insufficient in a world of continuous delivery. We understand that today’s shift left open sources are not alleviating the overhead placed on developers due to the noise created and the burden of learning security and navigating each open-source tool. It’s our responsibility to address this issue.

High-speed, forward-thinking development teams are adopting a new “born left” security strategy. In this approach, security considerations—like many other product aspects—are addressed right from the first line of code. Product security is not just delivered by the development team; it is owned by them.

» Learn more: Born left vs. shift left security

High-Velocity Development and Security

At Jit, our mission is to provide developers with an end-to-end solution for owning product security, from planning, through open-source orchestration, following an MVS approach (minimum viable security).

» See our solutions to building a modern minimum viable secure product

Development teams are being tasked with end-to-end responsibility and ownership of their products, while all along, there’s the pressure to ship code to production with high velocity.

As mentioned above, while dev-friendly security tools offer great benefits, the growing responsibility assigned to developers requires a shift in today’s approach—one that requires a minimum viable mindset and automated orchestration, so that devs will be able to own product security without compromising on velocity.