Contrast Security Assess Valuable Features

Ramesh Raja
Senior Security Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees

Contrast has a feature called Protect. When a real exploit comes through, we can look at it and say, "Hey, yeah, this is a Cross-Site Scripting or SQL Injection," and then we can block it.

Another especially valuable feature is the stack trace. I've been in the application security space for about 15-plus years now. I saw it when it was a baby or when people thought of it as the "icing on the cake." That was especially true when they had money. Then they would say, "Yeah, we can now look at security." Now, security is a part of the SDLC. So when Contrast identifies a vulnerability, it provides very important information, like stack trace and variables.

It also has another feature called IAST, interactive application security testing. When I started out I was actually an embed developer, and now I'm managing an OWASP team. I've seen both ends of the spectrum and I feel that the information for every vulnerability that Contrast provides is really cool and amazing, enabling us to go and fix the vulnerabilities.

It also has features so you can tweak a policy. You can make a rule saying, "Hey, if this vulnerability comes back, it is not an issue." Or you can go and change some code in a module and tell Contrast, "This is per-design." Contrast will cleverly identify and recognize that it was marked as per-design. It will not come back and say that's a vulnerability.

We use the Contrast OSS feature that allows us to look at third-party, open-source software libraries, because it has a cool interface where you can look at all the different libraries. It has some really cool additional features where it gives us how many instances in which something has been used. For example, of the total, say, 500 calls, has the OSS been used that many times? It tells us it has been used 10 times out of 20 workloads, for example. Then we know for sure that OSS is being used. There are tools that would tell you something is being used, but sometimes developers can include libraries that are never used. Contrast goes one step further and tells you how many times something has been used. 

I can't quantify the effect of the OSS feature on our software development, but it gives us a grading from A to F. In this evolving security world, customers come back to us and say, "Hey, do you guys have a pen test report? We can go back to Contrast and pull all this stuff and provide it to customers.

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Aggelos Karonis
Technical Information Security Team Lead at Kaizen Gaming

The real-time evaluation and library vulnerability checks are the most valuable features, because we have a code that has been inherited from the past and are trying to optimize it, improve it, and remove what's not needed. In this aspect, we have had many unused libraries. That's one of the key things that we are striving to carve out at this point.

An additional feature that we appreciate is the report associated with PCI. We are Merchant Level 1 due to the number of our transactions, so we use it for test application compliance. We also use the OWASP Top 10 type of reports since it is used by our regulators in some of the markets that we operate in, such as, Portugal and Germany.

The effectiveness of the solution’s automation via its instrumentation methodology is very effective and was a very easy integration. It does not get affected by how many reviews we perform in the way that we have designed the release methodologies. So, it has clear visibility over every release that we do, because it is the production code which is being evaluated. 

The solution has absolutely helped developers incorporate security elements while they are writing code. The great part about the fixes is they provide a lot of sensory tapes and stuff like what you should avoid to do in order to avoid future occurrences around your code. Even though the initial assessment is being done by a senior, more experienced engineers in our organization, we provide the fixes to more junior staff so they have a visceral marker for what they shouldn't do in the future, so they are receiving a good education from the tool as well.

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Manager at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees

The most valuable feature is the continuous monitoring aspect: the fact that we don't have to wait for scans to complete for the tool to identify vulnerabilities. They're automatically identified through developers' business-as-usual processes.

The automation of the actual vulnerability identification is great. I would give it a very high rating, given that it requires little of the security team or developers to understand and start reviewing the results that are identified.

The false positive rate is another good feature. It has a very low false positive rate. That means my team, the security team, has to spend less time looking at results and findings, compared to historical, static and dynamic scans where the false positive rate is much higher. From a percentage perspective, somewhere around 90 percent of the time we used to spend has been given back to our team, because the false positive rate with Contrast is less than 5 percent.

In terms of the accuracy of vulnerability identification, so far we've had tens of thousands of issues identified in applications that have historically been scanned by dynamic and static scanning. So far, the large majority of those findings have been true positive. I may have seen just a handful, five or 10, false positives so far, in the scope of tens of thousands. That's a very low rate.

We also use the solution's OSS feature through which we can look at third-party open source software libraries. It is a great tool. We've never had a solution for software composition analysis. It has affected our software development greatly. Since we've never really had a solution for doing software composition, nor have we required fixes for vulnerable third-party libraries, this has changed the way that developers are looking at usage of third-party libraries, upfront. It's changing our model of development and our culture of development to ensure that there is more thought being put into the usage of third-party libraries.

The solution is definitely helping developers incorporate security elements while they are writing code. Since we're able to install Assess in Development and QA and all the pre-production environments, developers can start making use of the tool as soon as they have a deployed version of their products. As they code new features and test those out in their development environment, Contrast is already going to be automatically identifying things at that point. We are identifying issues much earlier in the software development life cycle, which makes it much less costly for developers to fix those findings.

We're saving time and money by fixing software bugs earlier in the software development life cycle. We're saving time on the developers' side, as well as on the security auditors' side.

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Learn what your peers think about Contrast Security Assess. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2021.
502,104 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Director of Innovation at a tech services company with 1-10 employees

The most valuable feature is the IAST part. Institutionally, we're not quite at the point of using Contrast for the Protect functionality because we have other tools that overlap with the web application firewall component of it. But for the Assess component, there's a direct correlation to other tools that we've used and the failures of those tools. Contrast, in terms of providing that vulnerability assessment, it provides an immediate benefit there.

The effectiveness of the solution’s automation via its instrumentation methodology is a solid eight out of 10.

The accuracy of the solution in identifying vulnerabilities is better than any other product we've used, far and away. In our internal comparisons among different tools, Contrast consistently finds more impactful vulnerabilities, and also identifies vulnerabilities that are nearly guaranteed to be there, meaning that the chance of false positives is very low. The number of false positives from this product is much lower compared to competing tools that we use right now: WebInspect and AppScan. It reduces the number of false positives we encounter by more than 50 percent.

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Product Security Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees

The tool has good, strong findings. We have other static analysis tools, but Contrast has found high-priority issues which other tools have not found. The capability of the tool to scan and throw errors that other tools don't catch is important.

No other tool does the runtime scanning like Contrast does. Other static analysis tools do static scanning, but Contrast is runtime analysis, when the routes are exercised. That's when the scan happens. This is a tool that has a very unique capability compared to other tools. That's what I like most about Contrast, that it's runtime.

There is also a feature in the tool where you can actually specify that this or that is not a problem and mark it as false positive, and it doesn't show up again on your dashboard. It's pretty easy. You can filter out your false positives and be good to go. We have seen a reduction in the number of false positives because, once you mark something as a false positive, that particular one doesn't show up.

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Senior Customer Success Manager at a tech company with 201-500 employees

Assess is valuable for several reasons, but time-saving factors are high on the list. Compared to a typical development environment with a SAST tool, Assess saves developer time and reduces the time-to-market. With Assess there is no waiting for a slow static scan to complete. Vulnerability findings are reported during testing and the reported findings are highly accurate, with very few false positives. Other SAST tools often emit a great number of false positives that must be investigated and resolved before the code can be released, consuming the time of developers and the security team chasing invalid vulnerability reports. Assess also provides clear and actionable guidance on how to fix each vulnerability, saving more time. 

Assess integrates with a many common tools to generate notifications and tickets, such as JIRA tickets. The result is that application security vulnerabilities can be handled by developers as just another type of bug found during testing. Application security becomes part of the development process rather than a step that is done “after” development. The temptation to skip the security testing step to meet a release deadline is eliminated.

The combination of real-time analysis and accurate vulnerability reports can really accelerate time-to-market. One large customer was even able to eliminate the human signoff before release to production. This customer had a solid DevOps process with automated application testing, but still had the security testing and review process delaying releases. With Assess in their pipeline they were able to automate the release decision. Apps that passed functional tests and reported only vulnerabilities below a certain criticality threshold would be automatically released directly to production.

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Learn what your peers think about Contrast Security Assess. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2021.
502,104 professionals have used our research since 2012.