Jan 24, 2020

Microsoft gives developers a closer inspection

Microsoft Application Inspector

Microsoft released an open source version of its Application Inspector, a cross-platform tool that engineers can use to understand potential security issues when integrating third-party software in their codebase.

Automated scanning: Developers can run their applications through Microsoft’s Application Inspector, which analyzes the source code and identifies key features of their software.

Developers can "surfac[e] features of interest and other characteristics to answer the question 'what's in it' using static analysis." That makes it ideal for scanning components before integrating them into a codebase or detecting feature level changes.

The Application Inspector then generates a report that identifies "application frameworks, cloud interfaces, cryptography, sensitive data like access keys, personally identifiable information, operating system functions, and security features."

Once a developer understands these features of their code, they can better understand how open source software impacts their products’ functionality and security.

A new angle on the growing security problem: Most applications today include thousands of lines of code written by thousands of other developers. As a result, many tech companies are working to implement automated and more rigorous security guardrails.

Application Inspector follows this trend, but approaches the problem from a slightly different angle. It works as a code profiler, searching for key characteristics in a codebase and empowering developers to decide if its functionality is scoped appropriately.

That makes the Application Inspector more high-level than simple package vulnerability management or safe code analysis—arming developers with richer automatic tooling for their growing security responsibilities.

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