How to Use Trivy to Scan Docker Images for Vulnerabilities


Trivy is a powerful open-source vulnerability scanner that is specifically designed to scan container images.

It provides a simple and efficient way to identify vulnerabilities in Docker images, allowing developers and system administrators to ensure the security of their containerized applications.

In this article, we will explore the features of Trivy, learn how to set it up, scan Docker images for vulnerabilities, integrate it into a CI/CD pipeline, and discuss best practices for using Trivy.

Key Takeaways

  • Trivy is an open-source vulnerability scanner for container images
  • It helps identify vulnerabilities in Docker images
  • Trivy can be easily installed and configured
  • Running Trivy scans on Docker images provides valuable security insights
  • Integrating Trivy into a CI/CD pipeline automates image scanning and enhances security

What is Trivy?

Overview of Trivy

Trivy is an open-source vulnerability scanner specifically designed for container images. It helps identify security vulnerabilities in Docker images by scanning them for known vulnerabilities in their software components.

Trivy uses a comprehensive vulnerability database to compare the software versions in the container image against known vulnerabilities.

It provides detailed information about the vulnerabilities found, including their severity level, CVSS scores, and links to additional resources for remediation.

To use Trivy effectively, it is important to regularly update the vulnerability database to ensure the latest vulnerabilities are detected. Additionally, it is recommended to scan both custom and third-party images to identify potential security risks.

By integrating Trivy into your CI/CD pipeline, you can automate the image scanning process and ensure that vulnerabilities are detected early in the development lifecycle. This helps in maintaining the security and integrity of your containerized applications.

Features of Trivy

Trivy offers several key features that make it a powerful tool for scanning Docker images for vulnerabilities:

  • Comprehensive Vulnerability Database: Trivy leverages a vast and constantly updated vulnerability database, ensuring that it can detect the latest security issues.
  • Fast and Accurate Scanning: Trivy is designed to provide fast and accurate scanning results, allowing developers to identify and address vulnerabilities in their Docker images quickly.
  • Easy Integration: Trivy can be easily integrated into existing CI/CD pipelines, enabling automated image scanning as part of the development process.
  • Flexible Configuration: Trivy provides flexible configuration options, allowing users to customize the scanning process based on their specific needs.

Tip: Regularly updating Trivy and scanning third-party images can help ensure the security of your Docker images.

Setting Up Trivy


To install Trivy, follow these steps:

  1. Download the Trivy binary from the official GitHub repository.
  2. Extract the downloaded file to a directory of your choice.
  3. Add the Trivy binary to your system’s PATH variable.
  4. Verify the installation by running the trivy version command.

Tip: Make sure to download the appropriate version of Trivy for your operating system.

Once Trivy is installed, you can proceed to configure it for your specific use case.

Configuring Trivy

When configuring Trivy, some several options and settings can be customized to fit your specific needs. Here are some key considerations:

  • Severity Threshold: Trivy allows you to set a severity threshold for vulnerability findings. This helps prioritize the most critical vulnerabilities that need immediate attention.
  • Ignore Unfixed Vulnerabilities: You can choose to ignore unfixed vulnerabilities during the scanning process. This can be useful if you have a specific reason for not addressing certain vulnerabilities at the moment.
  • Customizing CVE Databases: Trivy uses CVE databases to identify vulnerabilities. You have the option to customize the databases used by Trivy to align with your organization’s specific requirements.

Tip: It is recommended to regularly update Trivy and its CVE databases to ensure you have the latest vulnerability information.

By configuring Trivy with these considerations in mind, you can optimize the scanning process and tailor it to your organization’s security requirements.

Scanning Docker Images

Understanding Image Scanning

Image scanning is a crucial step in ensuring the security of Docker images. It involves analyzing the image for potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses that attackers could exploit.

Trivy simplifies this process by providing a comprehensive scanning tool that can identify known vulnerabilities in the image’s software components.

To perform an image scan with Trivy, you need to specify the image name or ID as the input. Trivy will then analyze the image’s layers and dependencies, comparing them against a database of known vulnerabilities.

The scan results are presented in a structured format, making it easy to identify and prioritize any security issues.

When interpreting the scan results, it is important to pay attention to the severity level assigned to each vulnerability.

Trivy categorizes vulnerabilities as either low, medium, high, or critical based on their potential impact. This allows you to focus on addressing the most critical vulnerabilities first.

To summarize, image scanning with Trivy is a straightforward process that provides valuable insights into the security of your Docker images.

By regularly scanning your images and addressing any vulnerabilities, you can significantly reduce the risk of potential attacks.

Running Trivy Scan

When running a Trivy scan, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Scan Command: The basic command to run a Trivy scan is trivy image <image-name>. Replace <image-name> with the name of the Docker image you want to scan.
  • Scan Options: Trivy provides various options to customize the scan. For example, you can specify the severity level of vulnerabilities to include or exclude, ignore certain vulnerabilities, or output the scan results in different formats.
  • Scan Results: After running the scan, Trivy will provide a detailed report of the vulnerabilities found in the Docker image. The report includes information such as the vulnerability ID, severity level, package name, and version. It also provides links to additional details and references for each vulnerability.

Tip: It’s recommended to regularly update Trivy and scan your Docker images to ensure you are aware of any new vulnerabilities and can take appropriate actions to mitigate them.

Interpreting Scan Results

When interpreting the scan results from Trivy, it is important to pay attention to critical and high-severity vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities pose the highest risk and should be addressed immediately. Additionally, it is recommended to review medium-severity vulnerabilities and prioritize them based on their potential impact.

To help better understand the scan results, Trivy provides a detailed report that includes information such as the vulnerability ID, package name, installed version, and severity level.

This report can be used to identify specific vulnerabilities and take appropriate actions to mitigate them.

It is also worth noting that Trivy provides a CVSS score for each vulnerability, which can be used to assess the severity and prioritize remediation efforts.

The CVSS score takes into account factors such as exploitability, impact, and complexity of the vulnerability.

To summarize, when interpreting Trivy scan results:

  • Focus on critical and high-severity vulnerabilities
  • Review medium severity vulnerabilities
  • Utilize the detailed report provided by Trivy
  • Consider the CVSS score for each vulnerability

Integrating Trivy into CI/CD Pipeline

Benefits of CI/CD Integration

Integrating Trivy into your CI/CD pipeline offers several benefits for ensuring the security of your Docker images:

  • Automated vulnerability scanning: By incorporating Trivy into your CI/CD pipeline, you can automatically scan your Docker images for vulnerabilities at every stage of the development process. This helps identify and address security issues early on, reducing the risk of deploying vulnerable images.
  • Streamlined security workflows: Integrating Trivy into your CI/CD pipeline allows you to seamlessly integrate vulnerability scanning into your existing development and deployment workflows. This ensures that security is not an afterthought but an integral part of the entire software development lifecycle.
  • Continuous monitoring: With Trivy integrated into your CI/CD pipeline, you can continuously monitor the security of your Docker images as new vulnerabilities are discovered. This enables you to proactively address any newly identified vulnerabilities and keep your images secure.

Tip: Make sure to regularly update Trivy to leverage the latest vulnerability database and security checks.

Configuring Trivy in CI/CD

When configuring Trivy in your CI/CD pipeline, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Integration: Ensure that Trivy is seamlessly integrated into your existing CI/CD workflow. This may involve incorporating Trivy as a step in your build process or as part of your deployment pipeline.
  2. Automation: Automate the image scanning process to ensure that every image is scanned for vulnerabilities before deployment. This helps to identify potential security risks early on and prevents the deployment of vulnerable images.
  3. Thresholds and Policies: Define vulnerability thresholds and policies that align with your organization’s security requirements. This includes determining the severity levels that should trigger a failed build or deployment, as well as establishing guidelines for addressing vulnerabilities.

Tip: Regularly review and update your vulnerability policies to stay up-to-date with the latest security best practices.

  1. Reporting and Notifications: Set up reporting and notification mechanisms to alert relevant stakeholders about the results of Trivy scans. This ensures that the right people are informed promptly and can take appropriate actions to address any identified vulnerabilities.

Automating Image Scanning

Automating the scanning of Docker images with Trivy can greatly improve the security of your CI/CD pipeline. By integrating Trivy into your automated processes, you can ensure that every image being deployed is thoroughly checked for vulnerabilities.

To automate image scanning with Trivy, follow these steps:

  1. Configure Trivy in your CI/CD pipeline: Set up Trivy to run as part of your CI/CD pipeline, ensuring that it scans every image before deployment.
  2. Schedule regular scans: Implement a schedule to run Trivy scans at regular intervals, such as daily or weekly, to catch any new vulnerabilities that may arise.
  3. Integrate Trivy with your image registry: Connect Trivy to your image registry to automatically scan new images as they are pushed, ensuring that no vulnerable images are stored.

Tip: Consider using Trivy’s webhooks feature to receive notifications when vulnerabilities are found, allowing you to take immediate action.

By automating image scanning with Trivy, you can proactively identify and address vulnerabilities in your Docker images, reducing the risk of deploying insecure software.

Best Practices for Using Trivy

Regularly Updating Trivy

Regularly updating Trivy is crucial to ensure that you have the latest vulnerability information. Updating Trivy allows you to take advantage of new features, bug fixes, and, most importantly, the latest vulnerability database. By keeping Trivy up to date, you can stay ahead of potential security risks.

To update Trivy, you can use the following command:

trivy --download-db-only

This command downloads the latest vulnerability database without performing a scan. It is recommended to run this command periodically to keep Trivy updated.

Tip: Consider automating the update process by scheduling a cron job or integrating it into your CI/CD pipeline.

Here is an example of a cron job that updates Trivy every day at 3 AM:

0 3 * * * trivy --download-db-only

Scanning Third-Party Images

When scanning third-party images with Trivy, it is important to follow best practices to ensure the security of your Docker environment. Here are some recommendations:

  • Verify the source: Before using a third-party image, verify its source and reputation. Check if a trusted organization or community maintains it.
  • Regularly update images: Keep your third-party images up to date by regularly checking for updates and applying them. This helps to ensure that any vulnerabilities or security issues are addressed.
  • Implement image vulnerability policies: Define and enforce policies for third-party images. This can include requirements for minimum security standards, vulnerability scanning, and approval processes.
  • Monitor vulnerability databases: Stay informed about the latest vulnerabilities and security advisories. Subscribe to vulnerability databases and mailing lists to receive timely updates.
  • Consider using image signing: Implement image signing to verify the authenticity and integrity of third-party images. This adds an extra layer of security and helps prevent tampering.

Tip: When using third-party images, it is crucial to prioritize security and take proactive measures to mitigate potential risks.

Implementing Image Vulnerability Policies

When implementing image vulnerability policies, it is important to consider the following:

  • Regularly Updating Trivy: Ensure that Trivy is kept up to date with the latest vulnerability database. This will help identify and mitigate any new vulnerabilities that may arise.
  • Scanning Third-Party Images: It is crucial to scan all third-party images used in your Docker environment. These images may contain vulnerabilities that could pose a risk to your application’s security.
  • Implementing Image Vulnerability Policies: Establish clear policies and guidelines for addressing vulnerabilities found in Docker images. This includes defining the severity levels of vulnerabilities and the actions to be taken based on these levels.

Tip: Consider automating the image scanning process and integrating it into your CI/CD pipeline to ensure that vulnerabilities are detected early and consistently.


In conclusion, Trivy is a powerful tool for scanning Docker images for vulnerabilities. It provides an easy-to-use interface and comprehensive scanning capabilities.

By integrating Trivy into your CI/CD pipeline, you can automate the scanning process and ensure that your images are free from security risks.

Additionally, following best practices such as regularly updating Trivy, scanning third-party images, and implementing image vulnerability policies can further enhance the security of your Docker environment. With Trivy, you can confidently deploy secure and reliable Docker images.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Trivy?

Trivy is an open-source vulnerability scanner for containers and other artifacts, such as Docker images, container images, and file systems. It helps users find vulnerabilities in their container images and provides detailed information on the vulnerabilities found.

How does Trivy work?

Trivy uses vulnerability databases and security advisories to scan container images for known vulnerabilities. It compares the version of each installed package in the image against the vulnerability databases to identify any known vulnerabilities.

Can Trivy scan non-Docker container images?

Yes, Trivy can scan various container images, including Docker images, containerd images, and OCI (Open Container Initiative) images. It can also scan file systems and other artifacts.

Is Trivy suitable for use in CI/CD pipelines?

Yes, Trivy is designed to be integrated into CI/CD pipelines. It can be easily configured to scan container images as part of the build or deployment process, providing continuous security feedback.

How often should I update Trivy?

It is recommended to regularly update Trivy to ensure you have the latest vulnerability databases and security advisories. This will help you identify and address any new vulnerabilities that may have been discovered.

Can Trivy scan third-party container images?

Yes, Trivy can scan both self-built and third-party container images. It is important to scan third-party images, as they may contain vulnerabilities that could pose a security risk to your environment.

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