Cloud Security

Docker Container Scanning Tools: Best 7 Tools

Docker container scanning tools prevent malicious code from being injected into containers and remediate various vulnerabilities. Read more about our top recommendations in this blog and how to get started.

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

August 29, 2023 | 8 min read

Packaging dependencies and deploying applications within containers are becoming increasingly common in the software development industry. Developers constantly work on the next innovation and use containers to run applications and services within well-defined sandboxes.

Docker containers use OS-level virtualization and feature an enormous user base spanning over 10 million users globally.

They are easy to distribute and natively integrate with multiple public, private, and hybrid cloud environments. Docker Container Scanning Tools are integral to Docker security, and this blog will cover all the basics.

Table of Contents:

What is Docker Container Scanning?

A Dockerfile is a set of instructions that specify building a new Docker image. Docker container images are shared among users, and Docker container scanning involves analyzing these images. Users don’t have to rebuild images if they get direct access to them, and Docker blueprints provide the option to build images from scratch.

Docker container scanning involves scanning Docker container images for vulnerabilities and fixing them before they become major security issues. It allows developers to test images before pushing them into ECR, Docker Hub, Harbor, and other registries. 

Docker container scanning is necessary because it prevents unauthorized access to these images and enforces the appropriate user-defined policy controls and identity access and management tools in place.

What are Docker Container Scanning Tools?

Containers are easily scalable, and many applications run within organizations today are executed in Docker container environments. Docker container scanning tools are software solutions that detect, identify, scan, and analyze security threats. These tools are used for remediating critical vulnerabilities and issues with Docker container images.

Container Security follows a layered approach, and DevSecOps teams must scan and audit these images. A container security scanning tool can enable organizations to monitor and regularly detect security flaws and misconfigurations. It scans for emerging threats, scopes attack surfaces, and finds new bugs daily. Continuous and consistent Docker container scanning also allows organizations to adhere to global industry compliances, eliminates data breaches, and prevents lawsuits.

Docker Container Scanning Tools

There are several Docker Container Scanning Tools available in the industry. The most popular ones are as follows: 

1. PingSafe

Docker Container Scanning Tools - PingSafe Logo | PingSafe

PingSafe is one of the industry’s leading Docker container scanning tools and is best known for its Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). It can scan and monitor serverless functions, including ECS, AKS, EKS, FarGate, Kubernetes, Docker containers, and other container orchestration modules.

PingSafe can detect embedded secrets in Docker container images and hosts, remediate misconfigurations across clusters, and generate graph-based visualizations. It can produce SBOM code for each container image and provides CI/CD integration support. PingSafe’s Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) tools enforce shift-left security for cloud VMs, Docker containers, and secure workloads before deployment for production environments. Its Cloud Detection and Response (CDR) feature empowers real-time cloud threat discovery and investigations. PingSafe can also proactively detect misconfigurations across Terraform, CloudFormation, and other IaC templates, thus improving Infrastructure as Code (IaC) security.

Features

  • Agentless vulnerability assessments
  • Real-time secret scanning for up to 800+ types of secrets across BitBucket, GitHub, and GitLab
  • Continuous cloud compliance monitoring for over 20+ industry standards and regulations like PCI-DSS, NIST, ISO 27001, etc.
  • Offensive Security Engine helps ensure zero false-positives

Pros

  • Scans Docker containers, identifies malicious code and remediates vulnerabilities.
  • Supports cloud-native integrations, monitors domain names, and prevents cloud credentials leakage
  • Ability to write custom security policies
  • Event analyzer capabilities and rapid detection of AWS CloudTrail and GCP audit logs and threats

Cons

  • No cons have been found as of the moment.

2. Anchore Engine

Docker Container Scanning Tools - Anchore Logo | PingSafe
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Anchore Engine is an open-source project that enables organizations with robust Docker container security analysis. It lets users conduct inspections, runs standalone container images, and download container images directly from Docker V2. Anchore Engine is accessible via RESTful APIs and can analyze images using the command line interface. It is one of the best Docker scanning tools to exist.

Features

  • Automatically checks and updates Docker container images
  • Performs vulnerability assessments, audits, and compliance checks
  • Enables Role-Based Access Control and installs the latest security patches 

Pros

  • Scans Docker container images for vulnerabilities and defects
  • Generates reports, webhook notifications, and blocks CLI builds
  • Enforces strict security policy standards and ensures continuous compliance

Cons

  • It may require rewriting Docker configuration files.

3. Clair

Docker Container Scanning Tools - Clair Logo | PingSafe
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Coreos developed Clair, one of the most potent Docker container scanning tools in the market. It stores container metadata in its database and can query a database for vulnerabilities by leveraging an API that clients can use. Clair can notify alert systems about ongoing updates and clearly describes security issues through reports.

Features

  • Clients can index Docker container images
  • Supports various third-party, local, and cloud-based integrations
  • Can perform vulnerability scanning
  • Includes GitHub documentation

Pros

  • The best feature is ‘detection accuracy
  • Scans OS components in Docker images and containers
  • Integrates with Kubernetes 

Cons

  • It doesn’t give information about the location of vulnerabilities it detects 

4. Cilium

Docker Container Scanning Tools - Cilium Logo | PingSafe
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A unique kernel technology powers Cilium and is one of the top Docker security scanning tools. It is open-source, cloud-native, and analyzes real-time network connections between workloads. Cilium is the future of eBPF-based dataplanes and supports integrated ingress and egress gateways.

Features

  • Secures modern APIs like REST/HTTP, gRPC, and Kafka
  • Simple fiat Layer 3 network that spans multiple clusters
  • Supports multi-node networking, native Ipv6 routing, and overlays 

Pros

  • Provides EDT-based bandwidth management and distributed load balancing for network traffic
  • Better network security policies and inter-node traffic control
  • Excellent performance, simple UI, and secures Docker containers 

Cons

  • Constant re-use of IP addresses may be an issue, and it causes performance problems at scale.

5. OpenSCAP Workbench

Docker Container Scanning Tools - OpenSCAP Logo | PingSafe
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OpenSCAP Workbench is an excellent solution among modern Docker container scanning tools and provides various tools and customizable policies for effective implementation. It identifies vulnerabilities in Docker containers, offers automated Docker vulnerability scanning, and resolves attacks before they happen. It can also check software inventory and ensure global compliance, a continuous process. 

Features

  • It comes with an NIST-certified command-line scanner known as OSCAP
  • Includes OpenSCAP Base, OSCAP Anaconda Add-on, OpenSCAP Daemon, and SCAPTimony tools
  • Integrates with system management solutions like Red Hat Satellite 6 (Foreman), Preupgrade Assistant, and Orcharhino 

Pros

  • Performs “Atomic scanning.”
  • Manages security compliance
  • Enforces SCAP standards
  • Provides customizations and centralizes container and cloud security 

Cons

  • May fail to locate OSCAP on remote machines sometimes 

6. Notary

Docker Container Scanning Tools - Notary Logo | PingSafe
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Notary allows publishers to sign content and manages trusted publications digitally. It is one of the industry’s cutting-edge Docker container scanning tools and can enhance trust for arbitrary data collection. Organizations can reduce attack surfaces, optimize Docker container workloads, and establish a solid security foundation. 

Features

  • Edits documents live and eliminates risks with secure ID verification
  • Enforces container image trust using Docker
  • Digitally signs content and ensures integrity of published content 

Pros

  • Easy to use and set up
  • Based on the TUF framework
  • Secrets management 

Cons

  • Cannot be used to sign OCI artefacts
  • Notary API is in closed beta currently

7. Grafeas

Docker Container Scanning Tools - Grafeas Logo | PingSafe
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Grafeas is a well-known Docker container scanning tool that secures the software supply chain pipeline and enables metadata querying. It provides a uniform metadata schema for VMs, Docker containers, JAR files, and other software artefacts. 

Grafeas also offers a single source of truth for all organizations’ audits and ensures continuous compliance. It can perform vulnerability assessments and deployments, including identifying unknown vulnerabilities and addressing them immediately.

Features

  • Centralized dashboards and single pane of glass view for ingested data
  • You can find images built from particular GitHub commits
  • Vendor-agnostic and seamlessly integrates with the CI/CD pipeline 

Pros

  • Audits and governs software supply chains
  • Users can write complex queries
  • Provides flexible backend metadata storage using the Grafeas API
  • Enables both horizontal and vertical querying across all artefacts  

Cons

  • May have doc and bug issues since it’s in development 

How to choose the best Docker Container Scanning Tool?

Here are various factors that go into choosing the best Docker container scanning tools:

  • ScalabilityDocker container scanning tools should be capable of scaling up with the organization’s requirements. Identifying known vulnerabilities is critical to security, and Docker image scanners must push images to the Docker Hub or any other container registries. 
  • Centralized Security Management – Centralized security management is a crucial feature of all Docker container scanning tools. It captures runtimes, tests policies, and enables organizations with efficient reporting, auditing, and container metadata storage processes for best analysis. Centralized security can install the latest patches, detect runtime malware, and solve the problem of weak credentials. It also remediates insider threats and prevents sensitive data leakage.
  • Security Policy Enforcement – The best Docker container scanners allow users to write and enforce custom security policies throughout the organization. Having the ability to manage permissions, streamline identity and access management, and prevent unauthorized users from accessing Docker containers is also important. 
  • Pricing – The container scanning tool must be affordable for enterprises and fit within the budget. Choosing expensive tools with too many features that go unused is not recommended. 

Conclusion

Docker Container Security Tools help organizations proactively boost their cloud security posture and prepare for emerging threats. Unsurprisingly, companies using these tools ensure business continuity and avoid operational downtimes. There is no perfect solution; testing different products is essential before deciding what’s best. Every company’s security needs will differ, and it’s crucial to align security specifications with business requirements. These recommendations should help and allow security teams to get started.