Dynamic Code Analysis Tools

Gift Egwuenu

Written by Web Developer

September 9, 2022
Dynamic Code Analysis Tools

Software programs are prone to encountering vulnerabilities, security threats, and errors. To better manage your application, you must perform accurate checks during code reviews to protect your software from these risks. One way to achieve this is by performing dynamic code analysis.

In this article, I'll explain what dynamic code analysis is, why it is essential to utilize it, compare the difference between static code and dynamic code analysis, and show some examples of dynamic code analysis tools available.

What is Dynamic Code Analysis?


Dynamic Code Analysis analyzes and tests your applications during execution against potential vulnerabilities.

Dynamic Code Analysis checks your running application and relies on studying how the source code for the application behaves to uncover the possible risks or errors in the program.

Dynamic analysis is routinely used to find and fix bugs, identify performance bottlenecks, or search for security problems. The main goal of performing dynamic code analysis is to help discover potential bugs or security threats early on while executing the code before it so that it can be debugged and fixed before it even gets to production. Failure to curb these errors or threats could lead to a business downturn, loss of money, or customers for the business.

Why is Dynamic Code Analysis Important?


Dynamic Code Analysis is important because it provides a layer of precaution or security for your application.

Performing dynamic code analysis ensures developers can find potential risks or errors related to the codebase or security issues from dependencies tied to the codebase like the database servers, web application services, or third-party integrations.

Dynamic Code Analysis helps developers focus on shipping secure, robust applications because they can detect errors, performance issues, or security threats before it impacts the stable state of the application.

Dynamic Code Analysis vs Static Code Analysis


The primary difference between static and dynamic code analysis is that static code analysis is performed before the code is executed. In contrast, dynamic code analysis is performed while executing the code. Other than this difference, there are other things worth noting that make these two concepts different.

Static code analyzers can scan the entire codebase for data, input, or output errors, while Dynamic code analyzers only scan the portion of the codebase being executed. An advantage of a dynamic code analyzer is that it helps detect the vulnerabilities or threats that are too complex for a static code analyzer to see, like memory leaks, null pointer referencing and concurrency issues.

Both static and dynamic analysis should be carried out as part of your software's development and testing process. This will help lower the potential of any flaws or errors in the codebase.

Examples of Dynamic Code Analysis Tools


The following is a non-exhaustive list of tools to choose from that'll help you integrate dynamic code analysis into your software.

The best part is that there are tools for you regardless of your stack or programming languages.

This open-source repository has a list of dynamic code analysis tools for you to explore and choose based on your current situation.

Smartbear

Smartbear is a test automation and performance testing platform that ensures the highest quality with a suite of tools available to help you ensure your application is functional and secure. They provide tools like Test Complete, BitBar, Load Ninja, and Cucumber.

2. gcov

gcov

gcov is a tool you can use in conjunction with GCC to test code coverage in your programs. It helps you determine what area of your code needs to be optimized. You can use gcov as a profiling tool to help discover where your optimization efforts will best affect your code.

​​​​gcov creates a log file called sourcefile.gcov, which indicates how many times each line of a source file sourcefile.c has been executed. This annotated source file can be used with gprof, another profiling tool, to extract timing information about the program.

Code Pulse

Code Pulse is a free real-time code coverage tool for penetration testing activities. This tool automatically detects coverage information while tests are being conducted and will make it possible to understand the overlaps and boundaries of the different tool coverage.

Code Pulse presents coverage information visually to make it easy to understand which parts of an application have been covered and how much.

Enlightn

Enlightn is a vulnerability scanner specifically designed for Laravel PHP applications that combine SAST, DAST, IAST, and configuration analysis techniques to detect vulnerabilities.

It scans your Laravel app code to provide actionable recommendations on improving its performance, security & more. It can help detect issues before they become more significant problems.

IROH.JS

Iroh allows you to track, intercept and manipulate all data in your code during execution. You can collect and change types, parameters, return values, allocated objects, variables, expressions, function calls, etc.

Iroh also keeps track of the call stack, making it possible to view the code's flow and visualize it within any model.

Valgrind

Valgrind is an instrumentation framework for building dynamic analysis tools. Valgrind tools can detect many memory management and threading bugs and profile your programs in detail. You can also use Valgrind to make new tools.

7. CHAP

CHAP

Chap analyzes un-instrumented core files for leaks, memory growth, and corruption.

It is sufficiently reliable that it can be used in automation to catch leaks before they are committed. As an interactive tool, it helps explain memory growth, can identify some forms of corruption, and supplements a debugger by giving the status of various memory locations.

Wasabi

Wasabi is a dynamic analysis framework for WebAssembly. Wasabi means WebAssembly Analysis Binary. Wasabi provides an easy-to-use, high-level API that allows implementing heavyweight dynamic analyses that can monitor all low-level behavior.

The approach is based on binary instrumentation, which inserts calls to analysis functions written in JavaScript into a WebAssembly binary.

MobSF

Mobile Security Framework (MobSF) is an automated, all-in-one mobile application (Android/iOS/Windows) pen-testing, malware analysis, and security assessment framework capable of performing static and dynamic analysis.

It supports mobile binaries( APK, XAPK, IPA & APPX) and zipped source code.

HCL AppScan

HCL AppScan Standard is a dynamic application security testing tool designed for security experts and pen-testers. It automatically crawls the target app and tests for vulnerabilities.

Test results are prioritized and presented to allow the operator to quickly triage issues and hone in on the most critical vulnerabilities.

Conclusion


Developers are tasked with shipping the best applications, and it's evident their priority is writing code that works and ensuring code is safe and secure.

By leveraging the tools shared in this post, companies can integrate dynamic analysis code tools into their applications to significantly increase their application performance, security, and coverage.

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Gift Egwuenu
About the Author
Gift Egwuenu

Gift Egwuenu is a developer and content creator based in the Netherlands, She has worked in tech for over 4 years with experience in web development. Her work and focus are on helping people navigate the tech industry by sharing her work and experience in web development, career advice, and developer lifestyle videos.

View all posts by Gift Egwuenu
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