Azure Container Registry image scanning by Security Center

Azure Container Registry (ACR) is a managed, private Docker registry service that stores and manages your container images for Azure deployments in a central registry. It's based on the open-source Docker Registry 2.0.

If you're on Azure Security Center's standard tier, you can add the Container Registries bundle. This optional feature brings deeper visibility into the vulnerabilities of the images in your Azure Resource Manager based registries. Enable or disable the bundle at the subscription level to cover all registries in a subscription. This feature is charged per image, as shown on the pricing page. Enabling the Container Registries bundle, ensures that Security Center is ready to scan images that get pushed to the registry.


  • Release state: General availability
  • Required roles: Security reader and Azure Container Registry reader role
  • Supported registries and images:
    • ✔ Linux-hosted ACR registries that are accessible from the public internet and provide shell access.
    • ✘ Windows-hosted ACR registries.
    • ✘ 'Private' registries - Security Center requires your registries to be accessible from the public internet. Security Center can't currently connect to, or scan, registries with access limited with a firewall, a service endpoint, or private endpoints such as Azure Private Link.
    • ✘ Super minimalist images such as Docker scratch images, or "Distroless" images that only contain an application and its runtime dependencies without a package manager, shell, or OS.
  • Clouds:
    • ✔ Commercial clouds
    • ✘ US Government cloud
    • ✘ China Government cloud, other government clouds

When are images scanned?

Whenever an image is pushed to your registry, Security Center automatically scans that image. To trigger the scan of an image, push it to your repository.

When the scan completes (typically after approximately 2 minutes, but can be up to 15 minutes), findings are available as Security Center recommendations like this:

Sample Azure Security Center recommendation about vulnerabilities discovered in an Azure Container Registry (ACR) hosted image

Benefits of integration

Security Center identifies Azure Resource Manager based ACR registries in your subscription and seamlessly provides:

  • Azure-native vulnerability scanning for all pushed Linux images. Security Center scans the image using a scanner from the industry-leading vulnerability scanning vendor, Qualys. This native solution is seamlessly integrated by default.

  • Security recommendations for Linux images with known vulnerabilities. Security Center provides details of each reported vulnerability and a severity classification. Additionally, it gives guidance for how to remediate the specific vulnerabilities found on each image pushed to registry.

Azure Security Center and Azure Container Registry (ACR) high-level overview

FAQ for Azure Container Registry image scanning

How does Security Center scan an image?

The image is pulled from the registry. It's then run in an isolated sandbox with the Qualys scanner that extracts a list of known vulnerabilities.

Security Center filters and classifies findings from the scanner. When an image is healthy, Security Center marks it as such. Security Center generates security recommendations only for images that have issues to be resolved. By only notifying when there are problems, Security Center reduces the potential for unwanted informational alerts.

How often does Security Center scan my images?

Image scans are triggered on every push.

Can I get the scan results via REST API?

Yes. The results are under Sub-Assessments Rest API. Also, you can use Azure Resource Graph (ARG), the Kusto-like API for all of your resources: a query can fetch a specific scan.

What registry types are scanned? What types are billed?

The availability section lists the types of container registries supported by the Container Registries bundle.

If registries that aren't supported are connected to your Azure subscription, they won't be scanned and you will not be billed for them.

Next steps

To learn more about Security Center's container security features, see: