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Scan images with twistcli

Scan container images with twistcli.

Command reference

The twistcli command has several subcommands. Use the twistcli images scan subcommand to invoke the scanner.


twistcli images scan — Scan an image for vulnerabilities and compliance issues. The image must reside on the system where twistcli runs. If not, retrieve the image with docker pull before scanning it. Twistcli does not pull images for you.


The twistcli images scan function collects information about the packages and binaries in the container image, and then sends it to Console for analysis.
Data collected by twistcli includes:
  • Packages in the image.
  • Files installed by each package.
  • Hashes for files in the image.
After Console analyzes the image for vulnerabilities, twistcli:
  • Outputs a summary report.
  • Exits with a pass or fail return value.
Scan results can be retrieved in JSON format from the Console using API calls.
To specify an image to scan, use either the image ID, or repository name and tag. The image should be present on the system, having either been built or pulled there. If a repository is specified without a tag, twistcli looks for an image tagged latest.
When invoking twistcli, the last parameter should be the image to scan. If you list options after the image, they will be ignored.


  • Required. Complete URI for Console, including the protocol and port. Only the HTTPS protocol is supported. By default, Console listens to HTTPS on port 8083, although your administrator can configure Console to listen on a different port.
  • Username to access Console. If not provided, the TWISTLOCK_USER environment variable will be used if defined, or "admin" is used as the default.
  • Password for the user specified with -u, --user. If not specified on the command-line, the TWISTLOCK_PASSWORD environment variable will be used if defined, or otherwise will prompt for the user’s password before the scan runs.
  • Interface with a specific supervisor Console to retrieve policy and publish results.
    Example: --project "Tenant Console"
  • Write the results of the scan to a file in JSON format.
    Example: --output-file examplescan
  • --
    Evaluate the CI Policy and store results in the Console.
  • Show all vulnerability details.
  • Run the scan from inside the container.
  • Include the image custom labels in the results.
  • Docker daemon listening address (default: unix:///var/run/docker.sock) [$DOCKER_CLIENT_ADDRESS].
  • Path to Docker client CA certificate.
  • Path to Docker client Client certificate.
  • Path to Docker client Client private key.
  • Path to Prisma Cloud CA certificate file. If no CA certificate is specified, the connection to Console is insecure.
  • Forces twistcli to use Podman. To use the default installation path, set as podman. Otherwise, provide the appropriate path.
  • Include javascript package dependencies.
  • Token to use for Prisma Cloud Console authentication. Tokens can be retrieved from the API endpoint api/v1/authenticate or from the
    Manage > Authenticate > User Certificates
    page in Console.


The exit code is 0 if twistcli finds no vulnerabilities or compliance issues. Otherwise, the exit code is 1.
The criteria for passing or failing a scan is determined by the CI vulnerability and compliance policies set in Console. The default CI vulnerability policy alerts on all CVEs detected. The default CI compliance policy alerts on all critical and high compliance issues.
There are two reasons why twistcli might return an exit code of 1.
  • The scan failed because the scanner found issues that violate your CI policy.
  • Twistcli failed to run due to an error.
Although the return value is ambiguous — you cannot determine the exact reason for the failure by just examining the return value — this setup supports automation. From an automation process perspective, you expect that the entire flow will work. If you scan an image, with or without a threshold, either it works or it does not work. If it fails, for whatever reason, you want to fail everything because there is a problem.

Scan results

Scan reports can viewed in Prisma Cloud Console, but only when you pass the --ci flag to twistcli. This flag is designed to minimize clutter in the Console UI, since many people might be using twistcli for scanning, but everyone will need to share it with the larger team in Console. To view scan reports in Console, go to
Monitor > Vulnerabilities > Images > CI
Monitor > Compliance > Images > CI
You can also retrieve scan reports in JSON format using the Prisma Cloud API. The following example curl command calls the API with basic auth. You’ll need to apply some filtering with tools like jq to extract specific reports from the response. For more information on accessing the API, see Accessing the API.
$ curl \ -u <USER> \ -o scan_results.json \ 'https://<COMPUTE_CONSOLE>/api/v1/scans'
If you are using assigned collections, then specify the collection in a query parameter:
$ curl \ -u <USER> \ -o scan_results.json \ 'https://<COMPUTE_CONSOLE>/api/v1/scans?collections=<COLLECTION_NAME>'


The twistcli tool can output scan results to several places:
  • stdout.
  • File. Scan results are saved in JSON format.
  • Console. Scan results can be viewed under
    Monitor > Vulnerabilities > Twistcli Scans
You can simultaneously output scan results to a file and to Console by passing the appropriate flags to twistcli. By default, twistcli writes scan results to stdout.
To write scan results to stdout in tabular format, pass the --details flag to twistcli.
To write scan results to a file in JSON format, pass the --output-file flag to twistcli.
To publish scan results to Console, pass the --ci flag to twistcli.


The API returns comprehensive information for each scan report, including the full list of packages, files, and vulnerabilities. For more information, see the API documentation.

Running scans from inside the container

By default, twistcli is run from outside the container image. In some cases, you might need to copy twistcli to the container’s file system, and then run the scanner from inside the container. One reason you might want to run the scanner this way is when your build platform doesn’t give you access to the Docker socket. CodeFresh is an example of such a platform.
There are some shortcomings with this scanning from inside a container, so you should only use this approach when no other approach is viable. The shortcomings are:
  • Automating the scan in your continuous integration pipeline is more difficult.
  • Image metadata, such as registry, repository, and tag aren’t available in the scan report. When twistcli is run from outside the container, this information is retrieved from the Docker API.
  • The image ID isn’t available in the scan report because it cannot be determined when the scan is run from inside a container.
  • The scan report won’t show a layer-by-layer analysis of the image.


When running the scanner from inside a container, you need to properly orient it by passing it the --containerized flag. There are a couple of ways to run twistcli with the --containerized flag: build-time and run-time.
For security reasons, Prisma Cloud recommends that you create a user with the CI User role for running scans.

Build-time invocation

After building an image, run it. Mount the host directory that holds the twistcli binary, pass the Prisma Cloud Console user credentials to the container with environment variables, then run the scanner inside the container. The <REPORT_ID> is a user defined string that uniquely identifies the scan report in the Console UI.
$ docker run \ -v /PATH/TO/TWISTCLIDIR:/tools \ -e TW_USER=<USER> \ -e TW_PASS=<PASSWORD> \ -e TW_CONSOLE=<CONSOLE_ADDR> \ --entrypoint="" \ <IMAGE> \ /tools/twistcli images scan \ --containerized \ --details \ --user=$TW_USER \ --password=$TW_PASS \ --address=$TW_CONSOLE \ <REPORT_ID>
Rather than username and password, twistcli can also authenticate to Console with a token. Your API token can be found in Console under
Manage > Authentication > User Certificates > API token
. For security reasons, API tokens expire.
$ docker run \ -v /PATH/TO/TWISTCLI_DIR:/tools \ -e TW_TOKEN=<TOKEN> \ -e TW_CONSOLE=<CONSOLE_ADDR> \ --entrypoint="" \ <IMAGE> \ /tools/twistcli images scan \ --containerized \ --details \ --token=$TW_TOKEN \ --address=$TW_CONSOLE \ <REPORT_ID>

Run-time invocation

If you have access to the orchestrator, you can exec into the running container to run the twistcli scanner. Alternatively, you could SSH to the container. Once you have a shell on the running container, invoke the scanner:
$ ./twistcli images scan \ --address=<COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --user=<USER> \ --password=<PASSWORD> \ --containerized \ <REPORT_ID>
To invoke the scanner with a token:
$ ./twistcli images scan \ --address=<COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --token=<TOKEN> \ --containerized \ <REPORT_ID>

Simple scan

Scan an image with twistcli and print the summary report to stdout.
  1. Scan an image named myimage/latest.
    $ twistcli images scan \ -u api \ -p api \ --address <COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ myimage/latest
    Command output:

Scan with detailed report

You can have twistcli generate a detailed report for each scan. The following procedure shows you how to scan an image with twistcli, and then retrieve the results from Console.
Assume that the username and password for Console is api/api.
  1. Scan an image named ian/app:1.0.
    $ twistcli images scan \ -u api \ -p api \ --address <COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --details \ test/myapp:latest
    Sample command output (results have been truncated):
  2. This generates output to stdout with the result of your scan. If you need to retrieve the results of your scan in JSON format, this can be done using the API.
    1. You will be making API calls. For more information, refer to Accessing the API.
    2. Call the API with authentication (demonstrated here using Basic authentication) to fetch the results of the scan.
      $ curl \ -o scan_results.json \ -H 'Authorization: Basic YXBpOmFwaQ==' \ 'https://<COMPUTE_CONSOLE>/api/v1/scans?search={image name}&limit=1&reverse=true&type=twistcli'
    3. Format the scan results into human-readable format.
      $ python -m json.tool scan_results.json > scan_results_pp.json
    4. Inspect the results.
      Open scan_results_pp.json to view the results. Vulnerability information can be found in the list cveVulnerabilities, while compliance results can be found in the list complianceVulnerabilities to find the start of the list of vulnerabilities.
      { { "_id": "5bd72249a0dd0e12f9b17b22", "hostname": "jacob-repro-2", "info": { "allCompliance": {}, "complianceDistribution": { "critical": 0, "high": 1, "low": 0, "medium": 0, "total": 1 }, "complianceVulnerabilities": [ { "cause": "", "cve": "", "cvss": 0, "description": "", "exploit": "", "id": 41, "layerTime": 0, "link": "", "packageName": "", "packageVersion": "", "published": 0, "riskFactors": null, "severity": "high", "status": "", "templates": [], "text": "", "title": "(CIS_Docker_CE_v1.1.0 - 4.1) Image should be created with a non-root user", "twistlock": false, "type": "image", "vecStr": "" }, ... ], "cveVulnerabilities": [ { "cause": "", "cve": "CVE-2018-6485", "cvss": 9.8, "description": "An integer overflow in the implementation of the posix_memalign in memalign functions in the GNU C Library (aka glibc or libc6) 2.26 and earlier could cause these functions to return a pointer to a heap area that is too small, potentially leading to heap corruption.", "exploit": "", "id": 46, "layerTime": 1539910074, "link": "https://people.canonical.com/~ubuntu-security/cve/2018/CVE-2018-6485", "packageName": "libc6 (glibc)", "packageVersion": "2.27-3ubuntu1", "published": 1517495340, "riskFactors": { "Attack complexity: low": {}, "Attack vector: network": {}, "Medium severity": {}, "Recent vulnerability": {} }, "severity": "medium", "status": "needed", "templates": [], "text": "", "title": "", "twistlock": false, "type": "image", "vecStr": "CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H" }, ... ], ...

Scan images built with Jenkins in an OpenShift environment

If you are building and deploying images on OpenShift Container Platform (OCP), and you are utilizing their Jenkins infrastructure, then invoke a scan with the twistcli hosts scan command, not the twistcli images scan command.
You can scan images generated by Jenkins with the OpenShift plugin by invoking twistcli from a build hook. Build hooks let you inject custom logic into the build process. They run your commands inside a temporary container instantiated from build output image. Build hooks are called when the last layer of the image has been committed, but before the image is pushed to a registry. An non-zero exit code fails the build. A zero exit code passes the build, and allows it to proceed to the next step.
To call twistcli from a build hook:
  1. Download twistcli into your build environment. Depending on your build strategy, one option is to download it as an external artifact using a save-artifacts S2I script.
  2. In your BuildConfig, call twistcli as a script from the postCommit hook.
    $ twistcli hosts scan \ --user <USER> \ --password <PASSWORD> \ --address <COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --skip-docker \ --include-3rd-party
    Where the --skip-docker option skips all Docker compliance checks such as the Docker daemon configuration and the --include-3rd-party option scans application-specific files such as Java JARs.

Scan images when the Docker socket isn’t in the default location

The twistcli scanner uses the Docker API, so it must be able to access the socket where the Docker daemon listens. If your Docker socket isn’t in the default location, use the --docker-address option to tell twistcli where to find it:
  • Path to the Docker socket. By default, twistcli looks for the Docker socket in unix:///var/run/docker.sock.
    $ ./twistcli images scan \ --address=<COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --user=<TW_USER> \ --password=<TW_PASSWORD> \ --docker-address unix:///<PATH/TO>/docker.sock \ <IMAGE>

Scan Podman/CRI images

Podman is a daemon-less container engine for developing, managing, and running OCI containers on Linux. The twistcli tool can use the preinstalled Podman binary to scan CRI images.
  • Forces twistcli to use Podman. To use the default installation path, specify podman. Otherwise, provide the appropriate path.
    $ ./twistcli images scan \ --address=<COMPUTE_CONSOLE> \ --user=<TW_USER> \ --password=<TW_PASSWORD> \ --podman-path podman

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