Cyber Security

The Evolution of Static Analysis: From Blue Screens to Secure Infrastructures

History of static analysis and static application security testing (SAST) including the recent additions for infrastsructure, IaC and containers.

Albert Heinle
Written by
Albert Heinle

In the dynamic landscape of software development, staying ahead of the curve is essential to meet evolving challenges. One of the revolutionary concepts that has significantly contributed to the reliability and security of software is Static Analysis, specifically Static Application Security Testing (SAST). This article will take you on a journey through the history of SAST, its significance in contemporary software development, and how it's now expanding beyond code analysis to encompass the entire software infrastructure.

The Holy Grail of Computer Science

“Things like even software verification, this has been the Holy Grail of computer science for many decades but now in some very key areas, for example, driver verification. We’re building tools that can do actual proof about the software and how it works in order to guarantee the reliability.” Bill Gates, April 18, 2002. Keynote address at WinHec 2002

Alright, alright, settle down. This is the same William Gates that said:

“When we set the upper limit of PC-DOS at 640K, we thought nobody would ever need that much memory.”  — William Gates, chairman of Microsoft

So you might be a little wary, but this proclamation about software verification was not without reason. In 2002, the software was plagued with frequent system crashes and failures, or in the Windows world, the notorious “blue screen of death”, the BSOD. Software often failed or crashed. The crashes were largely attributed to software bugs including incompatible DLLs, faulty or poorly writing device drivers, hardware incompatibilities and generally poor code quality. Gates' vision was to use static analysis tools to proactively identify and eliminate these issues before they wreaked havoc on users' systems.

Static Analysis: What It Covers Today

SAST has come a long way since Gates' endorsement. Initially, it primarily focused on code analysis to identify security vulnerabilities, including buffer overflows, SQL injection, and more. Over the years, SAST tools have evolved to cover an extensive range of issues, such as code quality, compliance violations, and architectural problems.

Today, SAST tools can identify and address vulnerabilities in various programming languages and frameworks. They also integrate seamlessly with modern development environments, making it easier for developers to catch issues early in the development cycle, improving both security and efficiency.

The Shift to Web Services and Interconnected Systems

In the early 2000s, software primarily ran on personal computers, and the goal was to make these systems more robust and reliable. However, today, the software landscape has changed dramatically. Most applications are no longer standalone entities but are deployed as part of a broader ecosystem. Whether it's web services, mobile apps, IoT devices, or cloud-based solutions, the vast majority of software now interacts with other software components and services.

The importance of this shift cannot be understated. As more applications rely on external resources, the potential for security vulnerabilities and downtime increases. Just as static analysis helped reduce the occurrence of blue screens, the principles of analysis have now expanded to address the security and reliability of interconnected systems.

The Rise of Configuration Static Analysis

As software systems become more complex, so do their configurations. Misconfigurations are now one of the leading causes of security breaches and service downtime. In response to this, a new concept is emerging, known as Configuration Static Analysis. This process involves examining the configurations of software components, infrastructure, and the relationships between them to identify vulnerabilities and ensure they adhere to best practices.

Parallels Between Blue Screens and Infrastructure Breaches

Just as the blue screens were an impediment to the smooth functioning of computers and were mitigated through code-static analysis, today's software infrastructure faces a similar dilemma. Downtime and security breaches have become major concerns in the digital age. Just one configuration error in a cloud service or an insecure API can lead to a major security incident or a service outage, impacting both business and customer trust.


The journey of static analysis, from code-centric SAST to the broader scope of also including Configuration Static Analysis, reflects the evolution of software development. Bill Gates' visionary call for static analysis as the "holy grail" has indeed played a pivotal role in reducing blue screens and enhancing software reliability.

Today, as interconnected systems and cloud-based services dominate the software landscape, the scanning of the entire infrastructure and its configurations has become as vital as code analysis. By applying the lessons learned from the past, we can work towards a future where downtime and security breaches are minimized, ensuring a more secure and resilient digital world. Static analysis has evolved from solving blue screens to addressing the broader challenges of our interconnected digital ecosystem, making it a vital tool in modern software development.

Guess what CoGuard does? Configuration static analysis 😃

Are you using a common static analysis tool like Coverity? Veracode? Fortify? Try adding CoGuard to your SAST stack.

To get started, it is as simple as:

pip install coguard-cli
coguard folder .

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