Aqua – MicroScanner


A free-to-use tool that scans container images for package vulnerabilities.

Table of Contents


Aqua Security’s MicroScanner lets you check your container images for vulnerabilities. If your image has any known high-severity issue, MicroScanner can fail the image build, making it easy to include as a step in your CI/CD pipeline.

  • If you’re using Jenkins, you can find the plug-in for MicroScanner here.
  • CircleCi users can use the Orb located here.

Note: This freely-available Community Edition enables scanning by adding some lines to your Dockerfile, incorporating the microscanner binary as part of the image build. This is aimed at individual developers and open source projects who may not have control over the full CI/CD pipeline. The Aqua Security commercial solution scans container images without requiring any modification to the image or its Dockerfile, and is designed to be hooked into your CI/CD pipeline after the image build is complete, and/or to scan images from a public or private container registry.

Another note: This freely-available Community Edition of MicroScanner scans for vulnerabilities in the image’s installed packages. Aqua’s commercial customers have access to additional Enterprise Edition scanning features, such as scanning files for vulnerabilities, and scanning for sensitive data included in a container image.

Registering for a token

To use MicroScanner you’ll first need to register for a token.

$ docker run --rm -it aquasec/microscanner --register <email address>

Or get a token by registering here https://microscanner.aquasec.com/signup

We’ll send you a token to the email address you specify.

This process will prompt you to agree to the Terms and Conditions for MicroScanner.

Running microscanner

MicroScanner is designed to be run as part of building a container image. You add the microscanner executable into the image, and a step to run the scan, which will examine the contents of the image filesystem for vulnerabilities. If high severity vulnerabilities are found, this will fail the image build (though you can force the scanner to exit with zero by setting the --continue-on-failure flag).

Adding microscanner to your Dockerfile

The following lines add microscanner to a Dockerfile, and execute it.

ADD https://get.aquasec.com/microscanner /
RUN chmod +x /microscanner
RUN /microscanner <TOKEN> [--continue-on-failure]

Add ca-certificates if needed

You may also need to add ca-certificates to the image if they are not already built into the parent image, or added in your Dockerfile, so that microscanner can make an HTTPS connection. For example (Debian):

RUN apt-get update && apt-get -y install ca-certificates

or (Alpine):

RUN apk add --no-cache ca-certificates && update-ca-certificates

When you build the image, missing CA certificates will result in an error like this:

ERROR: failed fetching server information: request failed: Get https://microscanner.aquasec.com/api: x509: failed to load system roots and no roots provided


Example Dockerfile

FROM debian:jessie-slim
RUN apt-get update && apt-get -y install ca-certificates
ADD https://get.aquasec.com/microscanner /
RUN chmod +x /microscanner
ARG token
RUN /microscanner ${token}
RUN echo "No vulnerabilities!"

Pass the token obtained on registration in at build time.

$ docker build --build-arg=token=<TOKEN> --no-cache .

The output includes JSON output describing any vulnerabilities found in your image.

Continue on failure

Specifying the --continue-on-failure flag allows you to continue the build even if high severity issues are found.

No verify

Specifying the --no-verify flag allows you to continue the build even if CA certificates are not installed.


Specifying the --html flag provides output in HTML format.

Remove microscanner from image

You may choose to remove the microscanner executable from the image by changing the RUN line to

RUN /microscanner ${token} && rm /microscanner


The following line installs, runs, and cleans up microscanner in one layer so that it doesn’t add to the size of the final image.

RUN apk add --no-cache ca-certificates && update-ca-certificates && \
    wget -O /microscanner https://get.aquasec.com/microscanner && \
    chmod +x /microscanner && \
    /microscanner <token> && \
    rm -rf /microscanner

(If you need the ca-certificates in the image for other purposes, you may want to leave that as a separate step in the Dockerfile.)

Scan an existing image

microscanner-wrapper makes it easy to use MicroScanner to scan existing images.

It works by creating a new temporary Dockerfile dedicated to vulnerability scanning which starts FROM the image to be scanned, and adds and runs microscanner. This is used to build a temporary image which can then be discarded. Based on the output you can make decisions on whether to deploy the image.

This approach also has the advantage that the microscanner executable doesn’t need to be built into the image you eventually deploy.

Best practices

  • Since the token is a secret value, it’s a good idea to pass this in as a build argument rather than hard-coding it into your Dockerfile.
  • The step that runs microscanner needs to appear in your Dockerfile after you have added or built files and directories for the container image. Build steps happen in the order they are defined in the Dockerfile, so anything that gets added to the image after microscanner is run won’t be scanned for vulnerabilities.
  • The --no-cache option ensures that microscanner is run every time, which is necessary even if your image contents haven’t changed in case new vulnerabilities have been discovered. Of course this forces all the steps in the Dockerfile to be re-run, which could slow down your build. To allow for earlier stages to be cached but still ensure that microscanner is run every time you might want to consider a cache-busting technique such as the one described here.

Fair use policy

Your token will be rate-limited to a reasonable number of scans. If you hit rate-limiting issues please do get in touch to discuss your use-case.

Supported operating system packages

  • Debian >= 7, unstable
  • Ubuntu LTS releases >= 12.04
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux >= 5
  • CentOS >= 5
  • Alpine >= 3.3
  • Oracle Linux >= 5

Issues and feedback

MicroScanner is now deprecated. If you have any issues replacing MicroScanner with Trivy, please raise those as issues on the Trivy repository.

Binary hash

$ sha256sum microscanner
8e01415d364a4173c9917832c2e64485d93ac712a18611ed5099b75b6f44e3a5  microscanner


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