Why You Should Scan Your Applications in the Repository

If your application development environment is like most, you’re using more code and you’ve accelerated the development of applications and software. That’s great for productivity, but it presents a big challenge for security, as your developers come under increasing pressure to ship code quickly — while also ensuring that their code is secure. They need to find a sweet spot between speed and security, and scanning at the repository level is the way to go. Here’s why.

Shifting left

The traditional, sequential “waterfall” method of security scanning software is logical, but decreasingly efficient when used in rapid modern development pipelines. Scanning for security defects at the later stages of development, when the product is all but complete, is costly and time-consuming if flaws are found and need to be addressed. That’s because developers will then need to return to earlier stages of the development process, to find where the flaw is introduced, and fix it. It’s a cumbersome process that pits security requirements against developers’ priority to ship products fast.

Developers don’t want security to impede development. That’s where shifting left comes in. It involves scanning code earlier in the development process and throughout this process, rather than just at the end, thereby enabling developers to detect, identify, and fix vulnerabilities as they proceed. The fixes are incremental, and therefore smaller and quicker to implement, which makes for a more agile security process that works seamlessly within the software development life cycle (SDLC). And the best place for this to happen is in the repository.

Why scan in the repository?

It stands to reason that a great place to scan software, its components, and their dependencies, is where code sources and software packages are stored — the repository. By doing so, developers can check and fix code earlier and quicker. They can get instant feedback and make changes to their code before any issues get merged. And if this process is fully integrated into their workflow, they can achieve this more easily because there’s no need to switch between user interfaces to conduct security scanning and take remedial action. The traditional barriers of time, effort, and resources that accompany the waterfall methodology are removed, especially when the process can be automated. Prioritizing and fixing problems earlier in development can dramatically reduce the security burden for developers.


Scanning in the repository yields the following benefits:

  • Ease. The earlier you scan by shifting left, the more incremental and the smaller the changes.
  • Speed. When developers get instant feedback, they can act upon it faster and remediate vulnerabilities more quickly.
  • Agility. Security processes are integrated into the way developers work. There’s no need for them to switch to different tools and learn a new user interface, so they can scan and take action more decisively and with less friction.
  • Automation. When the process is automated, ease, speed, and agility are optimized. Vulnerabilities can be most efficiently prioritized and remediated, without interrupting developers’ workflow or slowing their productivity.
  • Overcomes weaknesses of other SDLC integrations. Scanning and testing can be done with browser integration, integrated development environment (IDE) integration, and continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) integration but there are drawbacks to each.  Usage or policies cannot be enforced in browser and IDE integrations, while scanning at the CI/CD phase is later in the process, making it harder and more expensive to fix vulnerabilities.
  • Increases adoption by putting developers first. For developers to embrace security scanning and remediation, it must be as simple and seamless as possible. Scanning at the repository enables them to easily perform these processes within their native environments. They’re less likely to neglect security in the interest of productivity, and they’re more likely to adopt security best practices when it’s made easy for them to do so.

Mend’s native integrations for developers

Mend helps organizations increase developers’ productivity while improving the security of their software and applications. By enabling them to scan applications in the repository as part of their regular workflow, they can keep code and components secure within their environments throughout the SDLC. We offer native integrations for developers that empower them to secure products, faster, and these include integrations with the leading repositories, such GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket Cloud, and Azure DevOps.

Discover more about the benefits of application scanning in the repository.

Meet The Author

Jeanette Sherman

Jeanette Sherman has spent her cybersecurity career working to understand and relieve the struggles of security leaders as they work to secure open source. After a youth spent befriending famous hackers, Jeanette has developed a perspective on cybersecurity that takes into account not only today's business needs, but also the thought patterns of real threat actors.

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