Set up Security Scanning in DTR

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

This page explains how to set up and enable Docker Security Scanning on an existing installation of Docker Trusted Registry.


These instructions assume that you have already installed Docker Trusted Registry, and have access to an account on the DTR instance with administrator access.

Before you begin, make sure that you or your organization has purchased a DTR license that includes Docker Security Scanning, and that your Docker ID can access and download this license from the Docker Store.

If you are using a license associated with an individual account, no additional action is needed. If you are using a license associated with an organization account, you may need to make sure your Docker ID is a member of the Owners team. Only Owners team members can download license files for an Organization.

If you will be allowing the Security Scanning database to update itself automatically, make sure that the server hosting your DTR instance can access on the standard https port 443.

Get the security scanning license.

If your DTR instance already has a license that includes Security Scanning, skip this step and proceed to enable DTR Security Scanning.

Tip: To check if your existing DTR license includes scanning, navigate to the DTR Settings page, and click Security. If an “Enable scanning” toggle appears, the license includes scanning.

If your current DTR license doesn’t include scanning, you must first download the new license.

  1. Log in to the Docker Store using a Docker ID with access to the license you need.
  2. In the top right corner, click your user account icon, and select Subscriptions.
  3. If necessary, select an organization account from the Accounts menu at the upper right.
  4. Locate Docker Datacenter in the Subscriptions list.
  5. Click Subscription Details and select Setup instructions.
  6. Click License key below the Docker Datacenter logo. The license key (a .lic file) is downloaded to your local computer. Next, install the new license on the DTR instance.

  7. Log in to your DTR instance using an administrator account.
  8. Click Settings in the left navigation.
  9. On the General tab click Apply new license.

    A file browser dialog appears.

  10. Navigate to where you saved the license key (.lic) file, select it, and click Open.

Proceed to enable DTR Security Scanning.

Enable DTR security scanning

To enable security scanning in DTR:

  1. Log in to your DTR instance with an administrator account.
  2. Click Settings in the left navigation.
  3. Click the Security tab.

    Note: If you see a message on this tab telling you to contact your Docker sales representative, then the license installed on this DTR instance does not include Docker Security Scanning. Check that you have purchased Security Scanning, and that the DTR instance is using the latest license file.

  4. Click the Enable scanning toggle so that it turns blue and says “on”.
  5. Next, provide a security database for the scanner. Security scanning will not function until DTR has a security database to use.

    By default, security scanning is enabled in Online mode. In this mode, DTR attempts to download a security database from a Docker server. If your installation cannot access you must manually upload a .tar file containing the security database.

    • If you are using Online mode, the DTR instance will contact a Docker server, download the latest vulnerability database, and install it. Scanning can begin once this process completes.
    • If you are using Offline mode, use the instructions in Update scanning database - offline mode to upload an initial security database.

By default when Security Scanning is enabled, new repositories will automatically scan on docker push. If you had existing repositories before you enabled security scanning, you might want to change repository scanning behavior.

Set repository scanning mode

Two modes are available when Security Scanning is enabled:

  • Scan on push & Scan manually: the image is re-scanned on each docker push to the repository, and whenever a user with write access clicks the Start Scan links or Scan button.
  • Scan manually: the image is scanned only when a user with write access clicks the Start Scan links or Scan button.

By default, new repositories are set to Scan on push & Scan manually, but you can change this setting during repository creation.

Any repositories that existed before scanning was enabled are set to Scan manually mode by default. If these repositories are still in use, you can change this setting from each repository’s Settings page.

Note: To change an individual repository’s scanning mode, you must have write or admin access to the repo.

To change an individual repository’s scanning mode:

  1. Navigate to the repository, and click the Settings tab.
  2. Scroll down to the Image scanning section.
  3. Select the desired scanning mode.

Update the CVE scanning database

Docker Security Scanning indexes the components in your DTR images and compares them against a known CVE database. When new vulnerabilities are reported, Docker Security Scanning matches the components in new CVE reports to the indexed components in your images, and quickly generates an updated report.

Users with administrator access to DTR can check when the CVE database was last updated from the Security tab in the DTR Settings pages.

Update CVE database - online mode

By default Docker Security Scanning checks automatically for updates to the vulnerability database, and downloads them when available. If your installation does not have access to the public internet, use the Offline mode instructions below.

To ensure that DTR can access these updates, make sure that the host can reach on port 443 using https.

DTR checks for new CVE database updates at 3:00 AM UTC every day. If an update is found it is downloaded and applied without interrupting any scans in progress. Once the update is complete, the security scanning system looks for new vulnerabilities in the indexed components.

To set the update mode to Online:

  1. Log in to DTR as a user with administrator rights.
  2. Click Settings in the left navigation and click Security.
  3. Click Online.

Your choice is saved automatically.

Tip: DTR also checks for CVE database updates when scanning is first enabled, and when you switch update modes. If you need to check for a CVE database update immediately, you can briefly switch modes from online to offline and back again.

Update CVE database - offline mode

To update the CVE database for your DTR instance when it cannot contact the update server, you download and install a .tar file that contains the database updates. Contact us at for an updated database file.

To manually update the DTR CVE database from a .tar file:

  1. Log in to DTR as a user with administrator rights.
  2. Click Settings in the left navigation and click Security.
  3. Click Upload .tar database file.
  4. Browse to the latest .tar file that you received, and click Open.

DTR installs the new CVE database, and begins checking already indexed images for components that match new or updated vulnerabilities.

Tip: The Upload button is unavailable while DTR applies CVE database updates.

Enable or disable automatic database updates

To change the update mode:

  1. Log in to DTR as a user with administrator rights.
  2. Click Settings in the left navigation and click Security.
  3. Click Online/Offline.

Your choice is saved automatically.

Where to go next

docker, registry, scanning, security scan, vulnerability, CVE