Micro Focus Fortify on Demand Review

Detects vulnerabilities and provides useful suggestions, but doesn't understand complex websites

What is our primary use case?

We use Fortify on Demand to test our e-commerce website. We do static codes testing before it goes live.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we migrate a new code to our production website, it is scanned with Fortify and all security vulnerabilities are identified. Then we try to remediate them so we don't expose ourselves.

I've been involved in deciding what's right or wrong. I've been involved in deciding on the product early on, and then if we should go on-premise or in the cloud, if we should build it into part of the software development life cycle or if we should do it on demand before we go to production. I've been involved in a lot of that. I've been involved in working with the development team to decide what is a vulnerability and what is not, and which vulnerabilities we need to take to heart, regardless if we understand what it is that we should ignore, and regardless of the fact that we think it's highly critical.

What is most valuable?

The product, in general, is meant to scan the website and identify any vulnerabilities: a known vulnerability across that script and SQL injection or other vulnerabilities from OWASP top 10, etc. That is what we're using this for.

The solution scans our code and provides us with a dashboard of all the vulnerabilities and the criticality of the vulnerabilities. It is very useful that they provide right then and there all the information about the vulnerability, including possible fixes, as well as some additional documentation and links to the authoritative sources of why this is an issue and what's the correct way to deal with it. 

What needs improvement?

Primarily for a complex, advanced website, they don't really understand some of the functionalities. So for instance, they could tell us that there is a vulnerability because somebody could possibly do something, but they don't really understand the code to realize that we actually negate that vulnerability through some other mechanism in the program. And they try to look at it saying, "Okay. From a pure standards perspective, this is a critical vulnerability for you." Which in reality, if you would really try to exploit it, you'd see that we actually did cross a little something around it, and the vulnerability is not there. So they would expect to have a certain type of a formatting requirement around a specific field to avoid being able to put in special characters. They would assume that because we don't have that, it's a vulnerability. But in reality, you actually do have a custom function that has been defined somewhere else in the code and these fields are subject to that function. I don't carry along with that in the same way as the application really does. That's something that we found that needs improvement.

We're actually going to transfer from them, and the main reason is that there is nobody home. We could have tickets open with them for months trying to escalate and have them remediate certain false positives as I described. We have had no success bringing this product to a level that we feel there's not too much noise. It gives you specifically what you need. You could take it at face value and run with it.

We're going to switch to Checkmarx. We're in the middle of the deployment.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Fortify on Demand for eight years or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is good. The product works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is irrelevant to us because it's in the cloud. For the past few years, we've been using it in the cloud, so it's a common scanner. It's not handling transactions. It's not a firewall or an antivirus that you have doing real-time transactions. It looks at the code and the volume of code we migrate. We write a lot of code every week, but it's still within reason. We're not talking about thousands of developers sending code at the same time. So I don't think that scalability was much in our conversation.

The product is being used by the e-commerce application development team, and we have senior developers who are responsible to scan and evaluate security concerns that come out of the product. We also have a lead security person and a development team who are responsible to oversee this and ensure that the issues are being addressed.

Deployment and maintenance, are not really applicable because it was somebody at DNH working with the company, setting it up. We did not put it into part of the platform of real-time migration, such that the code automatically goes there, marks it, and allows it to go to production or not. We didn't go that route, so it really didn't need too many people to be involved in the deployment.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is just not there. We have open tickets. They don't respond. Even if they respond, we don't see eye to eye. As the company got sold and bought, the support got worse.

How was the initial setup?

Our website is complex, so the setup is also complex. By definition, we expected it to be complex, and Checkmarx should also be complex because of the culture, habits, and complexity of our custom-developed website. Our website is not an off-the-shelf product, so there's a lot of complexity that comes with it by nature. But that's okay.

The initial deployment goal was to scan every bit and byte of code on the production e-commerce site. That was the plan. We started rolling this out and then we started sending tests. We went back and forth on whether we should make it in-line automatic that we scan sales, in a way that it would not allow the code to move further, or if we should do it off to the side, such that the application development life cycle continues to run separately, while somebody is scanning it making sure we dissolve all the issues. So we tried both routes. There are benefits to each, and it's definitely safer to do it in-line. Again, the culture, habits, and technology's use mean that it is not always best to do it in-line because it could become too complicated and break too many things. So we actually switched that. There is a person that does that. It's not built into the migration system by default. Somebody is scanning it and then moves to the next one.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with them and they helped us deploy. We tried a few different versions. We tried on-premise, and then we went to the cloud. Fortify on Demand is the cloud-based version, which we're using now.

Our experience with their developer team was good. But now, over time, the company went from a partner to a disconnected environment. Overall, the experience started out with a back and forth and an active relationship but over time, they became very disconnected.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's a yearly contract, but I don't remember the dollar amount.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't remember if we evaluated anybody else. I think Fortify was recommended through a consultant. Some years ago, there were not so many vendors at a time playing in this arena. There's not so many today for static analysis, but I don't think that we really evaluated any others.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise others not to use Fortify, but rather get something like Veracode or Checkmarx. The most important thing is not the functionality of the product. The most important thing is the knowledge, support, and availability of the team of security specialists as a vendor, that you have somebody to work with and talk to. Everybody's website is different, and if you try to use the product out of the box the way they built it and you have nobody to talk to to figure out how to tweak your application or the product to reduce the noise and the false positives, it becomes literally useless. So I would not advise anybody to go to Fortify based on the fact that they really don't have a very forthcoming support team and availability.

Could be the other options would provide professional services, but that's not the point. The point is that if you want to pick up the phone and send them an email, open a ticket saying that, "This is a false positive," somebody should get back to you. So I don't think that Fortify's a viable option still these days based on the fact of where they sit and how they operate.

I would rate the product a four out of ten. It works. The reason why I give it a four is because of the limitations of the product to understand the dynamics of our website and the number of things that are not working smoothly due to the fact that our website is complex.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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