Scan execution policies

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Group, sub-group, or project owners can use scan execution policies to require that security scans run on a specified schedule or with the project (or multiple projects if the policy is defined at a group or sub-group level) pipeline. Required scans are injected into the CI pipeline as new jobs with a long, random job name. In the unlikely event of a job name collision, the security policy job overwrites any pre-existing job in the pipeline. If a policy is created at the group-level, it will apply to every child project or sub-group. A group-level policy cannot be edited from a child project or sub-group.

This feature has some overlap with compliance framework pipelines, as we have not unified the user experience for these two features. For details on the similarities and differences between these features, see Enforce scan execution.

note
Policy jobs are created in the test stage of the pipeline. If you modify the default pipeline stages, you must ensure that the test stage exists in the list. Otherwise, the pipeline fails to run and an error appears that states chosen stage does not exist.

Scan execution policy editor

note
Only group, sub-group, or project Owners have the permissions to select Security Policy Project.

Once your policy is complete, save it by selecting Create via merge request at the bottom of the editor. You are redirected to the merge request on the project’s configured security policy project. If one does not link to your project, a security policy project is automatically created. Existing policies can also be removed from the editor interface by selecting Delete policy at the bottom of the editor.

Most policy changes take effect as soon as the merge request is merged. Any changes that do not go through a merge request and are committed directly to the default branch may require up to 10 minutes before the policy changes take effect.

Scan Execution Policy Editor YAML Mode

The policy editor currently only supports the YAML mode. The Rule mode is tracked in the Allow Users to Edit Rule-mode Scan Execution Policies in the Policy UI epic.

Scan execution policies schema

The YAML file with scan execution policies consists of an array of objects matching scan execution policy schema nested under the scan_execution_policy key. You can configure a maximum of 5 policies under the scan_execution_policy key. Any other policies configured after the first 5 are not applied.

When you save a new policy, GitLab validates its contents against this JSON schema. If you’re not familiar with how to read JSON schemas, the following sections and tables provide an alternative.

FieldTypePossible valuesDescription
scan_execution_policy array of scan execution policy List of scan execution policies (maximum 5)

Scan execution policy schema

FieldTypePossible valuesDescription
namestring Name of the policy. Maximum of 255 characters.
description (optional)string Description of the policy.
enabledboolean true, false Flag to enable (true) or disable (false) the policy.
rules array of rules List of rules that the policy applies.
actions array of actions List of actions that the policy enforces.

pipeline rule type

This rule enforces the defined actions whenever the pipeline runs for a selected branch.

FieldTypePossible valuesDescription
typestringpipelineThe rule’s type.
branches array of string * or the branch’s nameThe branch the given policy applies to (supports wildcard).

schedule rule type

This rule enforces the defined actions and schedules a scan on the provided date/time.

FieldTypePossible valuesDescription
typestringscheduleThe rule’s type.
branches array of string * or the branch’s nameThe branch the given policy applies to (supports wildcard).
cadencestringCRON expression (for example, 0 0 * * *)A whitespace-separated string containing five fields that represents the scheduled time.

GitLab supports the following types of CRON syntax for the cadence field:

  • A daily cadence of once per hour at a specified hour, for example: 0 18 * * *
  • A weekly cadence of once per week on a specified day and at a specified hour, for example: 0 13 * * 0

Other elements of the CRON syntax may work in the cadence field, however, GitLab does not officially test or support them. The CRON expression is evaluated in UTC by default. If you have a self-managed GitLab instance and have changed the server timezone, the CRON expression is evaluated with the new timezone.

scan action type

This action executes the selected scan with additional parameters when conditions for at least one rule in the defined policy are met.

FieldTypePossible valuesDescription
scanstring dast, secret_detection, sast, container_scanning, cluster_image_scanning The action’s type.
site_profilestringName of the selected DAST site profile.The DAST site profile to execute the DAST scan. This field should only be set if scan type is dast.
scanner_profile string or null Name of the selected DAST scanner profile.The DAST scanner profile to execute the DAST scan. This field should only be set if scan type is dast.
variablesobject A set of CI variables, supplied as an array of key: value pairs, to apply and enforce for the selected scan. The key is the variable name, with its value provided as a string. This parameter supports any variable that the GitLab CI job supports for the specified scan.

Note the following:

  • You must create the site profile and scanner profile with selected names for each project that is assigned to the selected Security Policy Project. Otherwise, the policy is not applied and a job with an error message is created instead.
  • Once you associate the site profile and scanner profile by name in the policy, it is not possible to modify or delete them. If you want to modify them, you must first disable the policy by setting the active flag to false.
  • When configuring policies with a scheduled DAST scan, the author of the commit in the security policy project’s repository must have access to the scanner and site profiles. Otherwise, the scan is not scheduled successfully.
  • For a secret detection scan, only rules with the default ruleset are supported. Custom rulesets are not supported.
  • A secret detection scan runs in normal mode when executed as part of a pipeline, and in historic mode when executed as part of a scheduled scan.
  • A container scanning and cluster image scanning scans configured for the pipeline rule type ignores the cluster defined in the clusters object. They use predefined CI/CD variables defined for your project. Cluster selection with the clusters object is supported for the schedule rule type. A cluster with a name provided in the clusters object must be created and configured for the project.
  • The SAST scan uses the default template and runs in a child pipeline.

Example security policies project

You can use this example in a .gitlab/security-policies/policy.yml file stored in a security policy project:

---
scan_execution_policy:
- name: Enforce DAST in every release pipeline
  description: This policy enforces pipeline configuration to have a job with DAST scan for release branches
  enabled: true
  rules:
  - type: pipeline
    branches:
    - release/*
  actions:
  - scan: dast
    scanner_profile: Scanner Profile A
    site_profile: Site Profile B
- name: Enforce DAST and secret detection scans every 10 minutes
  description: This policy enforces DAST and secret detection scans to run every 10 minutes
  enabled: true
  rules:
  - type: schedule
    branches:
    - main
    cadence: "*/10 * * * *"
  actions:
  - scan: dast
    scanner_profile: Scanner Profile C
    site_profile: Site Profile D
  - scan: secret_detection
- name: Enforce Secret Detection and Container Scanning in every default branch pipeline
  description: This policy enforces pipeline configuration to have a job with Secret Detection and Container Scanning scans for the default branch
  enabled: true
  rules:
  - type: pipeline
    branches:
    - main
  actions:
  - scan: secret_detection
  - scan: sast
    variables:
      SAST_EXCLUDED_ANALYZERS: brakeman
  - scan: container_scanning

In this example:

  • For every pipeline executed on branches that match the release/* wildcard (for example, branch release/v1.2.1), DAST scans run with Scanner Profile A and Site Profile B.
  • DAST and secret detection scans run every 10 minutes. The DAST scan runs with Scanner Profile C and Site Profile D.
  • Secret detection, container scanning, and SAST scans run for every pipeline executed on the main branch. The SAST scan runs with the SAST_EXCLUDED_ANALYZER variable set to "brakeman".
  • Cluster Image Scanning scan runs every 24h. The scan runs on the production-cluster cluster and fetches vulnerabilities from the container with the name database configured for deployment with the name production-application in the production-namespace namespace.

Example for scan execution policy editor

You can use this example in the YAML mode of the scan execution policy editor. It corresponds to a single object from the previous example.

name: Enforce Secret Detection and Container Scanning in every default branch pipeline
description: This policy enforces pipeline configuration to have a job with Secret Detection and Container Scanning scans for the default branch
enabled: true
rules:
  - type: pipeline
    branches:
      - main
actions:
  - scan: secret_detection
  - scan: container_scanning