Advanced Driver Assistance, Safety, and SAST to Support ISO 26262

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are a key area of innovation in automotive electronics, but their potential improvement and positive impact on safety can only be realized with the same level of rigor as other safety-critical software. As we’ve posted before, ISO 26262 defines the guidelines for designing and building safety functions in automobiles, which would include an ADAS system. Static application security testing plays an important role in developing software to the standard.

In previous posts on safety critical software, we have discussed how SAST fits well with safety-critical development, helping break through the “affordability wall” and improving risk reduction. This holds true for the relatively new field of ADAS and the emerging development rigor required as the technology plays a more critical role in automobiles. ISO 26262 (Road Vehicles – Functional Safety) defines the functional safety guidelines needed for ADAS (and other safety-critical automotive systems), including using software development automation and SAST tools.

Certification and SAST Tools

ISO 26262 specifies software unit design, implementation principles, and coding guidelines. SAST tools are particularly useful in enforcing coding standards such as MISRA C. Help with coding standards is useful but it’s just a small fraction of the capabilities of a product such as CodeSecure CodeSonar. ADAS devices need robustness, correctness, and consistency, which require design, coding, and testing rigor beyond the coding standards. SAST tools can find defects in the source code before and after it becomes part of the project. The tools can also detect bugs that are hard to find in testing and are expensive to debug and fix.

Figure 1: Risk reduction required by a technical solution by ISO26262 versus each Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL). Development automation has significant impact on risk reduction.

Tool Qualification

Software certifications require proof of implementation to the standard, which is often manually generated, but automation reduces the workload. Confidence is required in the results from automated tools in order for them to be acceptable certification evidence. To address this, tools vendors can seek certifications for the products they sell as well. Recognizing this need, CodeSecure CodeSonar is independently certified by TÜV SÜD for ISO 26262, IEC 61508, and EN 50128. This means that developers can use CodeSonar with confidence that the results produced are acceptable to approval bodies during certification. It’s just too risky to use unqualified tools, which will only result in further testing, documentation, and certification costs.

ADAS Development Acceleration and Risk Reduction

The additional rigor required for ADAS, risk management, and functional safety, defined in ISO 26262, is relatively new to automotive software development teams. SAST tools provide tangible productivity improvements to software teams seeking stringent software safety certification. Using a qualified tool as part of the software development process from early stages of development can have significant benefits:

  • Enforcing coding standards for safety, security, and style. Automating code analysis during code development ensures quality in the development stream every day.
  • Reducing the manual effort in proving software robustness and behavior. SAST tools augment software testing by providing more assurance of software quality.
  • Reducing the number of defects throughout development. Code that works the first time is much cheaper to test and integrate than buggy code. Bugs and security vulnerabilities removed from the code before testing (or even source configuration management) reduce costs and risk.
  • Finding serious defects that elude testing. Software testing in ADAS is exhaustive and, depending on the level of concern (i.e., ISO 26262 ASIL), require complete statement and or decision coverage. Despite this testing rigor, SAST tools have found defects that were missed. These are the most worrisome types of defects – is it really worth the risk of letting these bugs go into a shipping product?
  • Accelerating certification evidence. Documenting the results of software unit acceptance is critical to proving compliance to certification standards. SAST tools have rich reporting features to help support certification requirements.
  • Seamless Integration into Software Development Life Cycle: Seamlessly integrate SAST into your CI/CD workflow so it becomes a native process for your development team. This ensures secure coding and compliance with secure safety coding standards.

Analyzing Legacy and Third-Party Code

Use of third-party code such as commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) and open-source software is a fact of life in embedded software development. Software composition analysis tools, like CodeSecure CodeSentry, can analyze third-party binaries to discover existing security vulnerabilities including hidden dependencies within.

CodeSentry uses deep, scalable binary analysis to create a detailed SBOM and lists known vulnerabilities (cross-referenced with the National Vulnerabilities Database – NVD) in the detected components, including any dependencies. CodeSentry continuously tracks these vulnerabilities during development and is designed to be integrated into a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline to keep the SBOM updated.


ADAS is growing in range and scope in automotive systems. The required software development is taking over in terms of costs and risk in these systems, and standards such as ISO 26262 require thorough risk management. ADAS software is complex and expensive to build; however, SAST tools boost the quality assurance, robustness, and correctness required. Early adoption and use is key to reaping the most rewards.

To learn more about how CodeSecure is helping automotive suppliers achieve standards compliance, read this case study, “CodeSonar Enables Merit Automotive to Deliver Quality Products and Meet Safety and Security Requirements.”

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