Vulnerability Management

This doc applies only to the Vulnerability Management engine, released April 20, 2022. Make sure you are using the correct documentation: Which Scanning Engine to Use

Understanding Vuln Management Stages

One key to designing your vulnerability management deployment and strategy is to understand the different lifecycle phases to be addressed:

Basic Concepts

  • Vulnerabilities are present in the software that has been installed in the images during the build phase - when we define and assemble the image.
  • A container image is immutable by definition. If we change the contents of an image, then it becomes a different image in practice (with different ImageID, etc.).
  • Nevertheless, even if the image itself is immutable, Sysdig can discover new vulnerabilities contained in running container images (ex: kubernetes workloads) at any moment in time, given that the security feeds are constantly updated.
    • For example, an image that had no known vulnerabilities at build time may be impacted by a newly discovered critical vulnerability 10 days after entering runtime. The image itself is exactly the same, but the security feeds discovered a new piece of information related to the image’s software.

Pipeline and Runtime

Although the underlying algorithm to analyze the image contents (SBOM) and match vulnerabilities to it is basically the same, Sysdig treats images differently depending on whether they are located in a pipeline or being used as the base for a running container, also known as runtime workloads.


Any analysis conducted prior to the runtime phase is considered pipeline. This typically means CI/CD builds (Jenkins, Github, etc), but can also be just an execution of the sysdig-cli-scanner binary performed on a developer laptop or with a custom scanning script.

  • Pipeline images do not have runtime context.
  • The scan happens outside of the execution nodes where the agent is installed:
    • CI/CD
    • External instrumentation
    • Custom scripts or image scanning plugins
  • Pipeline scans are one-off vulnerability reports; the information is a static snapshot with its corresponding execution date.
    • If you want to evaluate a newer version of the image or just reevaluate the same image with newer feed information, the analysis needs to be triggered again.
  • Images analyzed using the sysdig-cli-scanner will show up in the Pipeline section of the vulnerability management interface.


Runtime workloads are executed from an image. Accessing the Runtime section of the Vulnerabilities menu, you will be able to see those images and their vulnerability and policy evaluation.

  • Runtime workloads are located in an execution node and are being monitored by a Sysdig agent/node analyzer, for example a Kubernetes node that is instrumented using the Sysdig agent bundle.
  • Runtime workloads will offer a live, auto-refreshing state. This means:
    • Workloads that are no longer running will be removed from the runtime view
    • Vulnerabilities and policies evaluations will automatically refresh without any user interaction, offering always the most up-to-date information known.
      • At least once per day
  • Runtime workload have a runtime context associated with them, i.e. Kubernetes cluster and namespace.
  • Workloads analyzed during runtime will show up in the Runtime section of the vulnerability management interface.

Vulnerabilities Features

Sysdig’s Vulnerabilities module addresses the top requirements for effective vulnerability management:

  • Provides highly accurate views of vulnerability risk at scale

  • Deep visibility into system calls provides high accuracy about active packages

  • Rich details provide precision about vulnerability risk (ex. CVSS vector, score, fix age) and insights from multiple expert feeds (ex. VulnDB)

  • Access to public exploits allows you to verify security controls and patch efficiently

  • Prioritized risk data focused on the vulns that are tied to the packages loaded at runtime

At this time, the Vulnerability Management engine supports: CI/CD pipeline & runtime image scanning, policies, notifications, and reporting for runtime. Host and registry scanning are not yet supported.

Getting Started with Vulnerabilities

  1. Ensure you have completed the Sysdig Secure deployment steps, so you have:

  2. Log in to Sysdig Secure with Advanced User+ permissions and select Vulnerabilities.

    The out-of-the-box policies for Pipeline and Runtime vulnerabilities will work without further setup.

  3. Choose Pipeline or Runtime to see the scanning results.

  4. Choose Reporting to configure schedules for creating downloadable reports on runtime vulnerability results.

  5. To create or edit Pipeline or Runtime Vuln Policies and Rule Bundles, select the relevant links from the Policies tab in the navigation bar.

Appendix: Supported Packages and Languages


  • Only Kubernetes Runtime for now, Hosts and Cloud infrastructure coming soon

    • Not currently supported on OpenShift 4.10+
  • Supported container runtimes:

    • Docker daemon
    • ContainerD
    • CRI-O

Installation Options

  • Helm chart
  • Plain daemonset
    • Runtime scanner
    • Runtime scanner + benchmark runner


Supported Container Image Formats

  • Docker Registry V2 - compatible
  • Docker Daemon
  • Podman
  • Docker Archive (tar)
  • OCI Archive

Supported Package Types

  • Debian
  • Alpine
  • RHEL
  • Ubuntu
  • Java Maven
  • Golang (built with go 1.13+)
  • Pypi
  • NPM (JS)
  • Ruby Gems
  • NuGet
  • Cargo (Rust)

Supported Container Image CPU Architectures

  • amd64
  • (others coming soon)