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Semgrep CI

Semgrep CI (aka Semgrep Action or semgrep-agent) is a specialized Docker image for running Semgrep in CI environments. It can also optionally connect to Semgrep App for centralized rule and findings management.

  • Scan every commit. Semgrep CI rapidly scans modified files on pull and merge requests, protecting developer productivity. Longer full project scans are configurable on merges to specific branches.
  • Block new bugs. You shouldn’t have to fix existing bugs just to adopt a tool. Semgrep CI reports newly introduced issues on pull and merge requests, scanning them at their base and HEAD commits to compare findings. Developers are signficantly more likely to fix the issues they introduced themselves on PRs and MRs.
  • Get findings where you work. Semgrep CI can connect to Semgrep App to present findings in Slack, on PRs and MRs via inline comments, email, and through 3rd party services.

Semgrep CI runs fully in your build environment: your code is never sent anywhere.

Getting started

Semgrep CI behaves like other static analysis and linting tools: it runs a set of user-configured rules and returns a non-zero exit code if there are findings, resulting in its job showing a βœ… or ❌.

Start by copying the below relevant template for your CI provider. Read through the comments in the template to adjust when and what Semgrep CI scans, selecting pull and merge requests, merges to branches, or both.

Once Semgrep CI is running, explore the Semgrep Registry to find and add more project-specific rules.

See Advanced Configuration for further customizations, such as ignoring files and tuning performance.

GitHub Actions


You can add Semgrep CI automatically to a GitHub repository by clicking "Set up" on the Projects page of Semgrep App. You'll be able to adjust pull request and merge behavior before Semgrep App asks to commit a workflow file to your repository.

To manually add Semgrep CI to GitHub Actions, add a .github/workflows/semgrep.yml file to your repository. Follow the workflow syntax for GitHub Actions.

See this example GitHub Actions workflow configuration for Semgrep CI.

GitLab CI/CD


Automatic setup is coming to GitLab CI/CD soon, where Semgrep App can commit Semgrep CI configurations to your projects. Sign up for the beta here!

To add Semgrep CI to GitLab CI/CD, add a .gitlab-ci.yml file to your repository if not already present. Add a block to run the Semgrep CI job in your pipeline, following GitLab’s configuration guide for the .gitlab-ci.yml file.

See this example GitLab CI/CD configuration for Semgrep CI.

If you’re already running GitLab SAST by including template: Security/SAST.gitlab-ci.yml in your CI/CD configuration, you can still include and customize Semgrep CI. GitLab SAST, including its semgrep-sast analyzer, will continue to run normally.

Other CI providers

To add Semgrep CI to any CI environment, use the returntocorp/semgrep-agent:v1 Docker image directly:

For full project scans:

docker run -v $(pwd):/src --workdir /src returntocorp/semgrep-agent:v1 semgrep-agent --config auto --config <other rule or rulesets>

For pull or merge request scans that return only newly introduced issues, set the --baseline-ref flag to the git ref (branch name, tag, or commit hash) to use as a baseline. Semgrep will determine the files that have been modified since this reference point and return only newly introduced issues. For example, to report findings newly added since branching off from your main branch, run

semgrep-agent --baseline-ref main

To connect your Semgrep CI scans to Semgrep App, you can optionally provide the following environment variables:

Environment Variables

Set additional environment variables

SEMGREP_COMMIT=abcd1234 # commit SHA being scanned
SEMGREP_REPO_NAME=myorg/myrepository # project name to show on Semgrep App
SEMGREP_PR_TITLE="Added four new bugs" # shown in Slack notifications if set
SEMGREP_TIMEOUT=1800 # Maximum Semgrep run time in seconds, or 0 to disable timeouts

Run semgrep_agent

semgrep-agent --publish-token $SEMGREP_APP_TOKEN

These instructions have been used on the following providers by the community:

CI Providers
Bitbucket PipelinesCodeship
BitriseGitHub Actions (sample configuration)
BuildbotGitLab CI (sample configuration)
Buildkite (sample configuration)Jenkins (sample configuration)
CircleCI (sample configuration)TeamCity CI
CodefreshTravis CI

Reviewing Findings

Scan output

Semgrep CI exits with exit code 1 if the scan returned any findings. This will cause your CI provider to show a ❌ next to the job. You can find a description of the findings in the log output.

Click for an example of Semgrep CI's job output
=== looking for current issues in 1 file
| 1 current issue found
=== looking for pre-existing issues in 1 file
| No pre-existing issues found
> flask_todomvc/
30β”‚ os.system(id)
= User data detected in os.system. This could be vulnerable to a command
injection and should be avoided. If this must be done, use the
'subprocess' module instead and pass the arguments as a list.

=== exiting with failing status


Rules are 'blocking' by default and behave as described above. When connected to Semgrep App, you can also add non-blocking rules to your scans. Non-blocking rules return non-blocking findings which notify you via an integration but do not show up in log output, and do not cause jobs to fail with a ❌.


Semgrep CI comes with many integrations with other services, to get you results in the workflow you're already used to, whether you're a developer or part of a security team.


Screenshot of a Slack notification describing the details of a finding
A Slack notification triggered by new findings in a pull request

Notifications require connection to Semgrep App. You can get notified about new findings via:

To set up notifications:

  1. Follow the links above to create a notification channel.
  2. Add the created channel to one or more policies as a policy action. Only the rules in these policies will trigger notifications.

Notifications are sent only the first time a given finding is seen. See how notifications are de-duplicated

Security Dashboards

Screenshot of Semgrep App&#39;s findings dashboard showing a bar chart of findings over time, and a list of the most recent findings
Semgrep App's findings overview page

A security dashboard gives you an overview of all your findings organization-wide. You can review Semgrep CI's findings via:

Advanced Configuration

Registry rules and rulesets


These instructions apply to using Semgrep CI directly in your CI environment. For use with Semgrep App please use the "Add to policy" button next to any registry rule or ruleset, or visit Dashboard > Policies.

Semgrep CI accepts a list of rules and rulesets to run on each scan. To add from the Semgrep Registry, just include the rule or ruleset identifier in your CI workflow file. Identifiers take the form p/<ruleset-id> and r/<rule-id>. These identifiers can be copied directly for any rule or ruleset directly from the Registry, and run locally using the --config <identifier> flag with the Semgrep command line tool.

For example, in GitLab CI/CD:

# ...
# ...

Key names and configuration format for specific CI providers are available in the sample CI configurations.

Custom rules


See Writing rules to learn how to write custom rules.

Your own custom rules can be added to your Semgrep CI configuration just like Registry rules by:

  1. Including their Playground share ID (e.g. s/susan:named-rule)
  2. Adding the directory or file path to the local file containing the rule
  3. Adding the rule to a .semgrep/ directory, which is included by default

For example, in GitLab CI/CD:

# ...
s/dlukeomalley:translation-of-non-string # Playground share ID
no-exec.yml # File containing one or more rules
.semgrep/ # Directory containing rule yaml files
# ...

If no configuration is provided and no .semgrep.yml or .semgrep/ directory exists, Semgrep CI will exit with a non-zero error code.

Ignoring files

Semgrep CI supports a .semgrepignore file that follows the .gitignore syntax and is used to skip files and directories during scanning. This is commonly used to avoid vendored and test related code. For a complete example, see the .semgrepignore file on Semgrep’s source code.


.semgrepignore is only used by Semgrep CI and is not honored by the Semgrep command line tool or by integrations like GitLab's Semgrep SAST Analyzer.

By default Semgrep CI skips files and directories such as tests/, node_modules/, and vendor/. The full list of ignored items is in the .semgrepignore template file, which is used by Semgrep CI when no explicit .semgrepignore file is found in the root of your project.

For information on ignoring individual findings in code, see the ignoring findings page.

Audit scans

Semgrep CI has an audit mode that can be enabled to suppress non-zero exit codes when findings are found during branch scans. These scans are not differential in nature and by default pre-existing findings will fail the build. With audit mode enabled, even though findings will not cause non-zero exit codes, internal Semgrep errors and exception will still fail the build.

This behavior is beneficial for those who want to ensure every merge to a branch is fully scanned but who don't want to interfere with the development process becuase of pre-existing issues. In this mode, security dashboards can still be kept up to date and notifications can be received.

In GitHub Actions, the most common event names are push and pull_request. To enable audit mode on branch pushes in GitHub Actions, set the option auditOn: push in your workflow file.

In providers other than GitHub Actions and GitLab CI, Semgrep CI doesn't infer an event name from the environment. Therefore, all scan run on an event named unknown.

Exit codes

Exit codeMeaning
0Scan completed successfully and found no blocking findings
1Scan completed successfully and found blocking findings
2Scan failed and printed the error's details

Non-blocking findings do not affect the exit code.

Semgrep App connection

To use your Semgrep App account, set --publish-token. This acts as your username and password for authentication. You can generate an API token on the Dashboard > Settings page.

Ignoring specific rules in a ruleset or policy

You can customize the ruleset you're using to ignore some of its rules by editing the Semgrep App policy used for your scans.

Getting notifications instead of blocking builds

Some rules point out hotspots that require careful review but are not certain to be insecure code. You might want to disable blocking when scanning with such rules, and instead use a CI integration to get notifications.

You can set this up by changing the actions of the Semgrep App policy used for your scans.

Find what you needed in this doc? Join the Slack group to ask the maintainers and the community if you need help.