Which IaC Scanning Tool is the Best?: Comparing Checkov vs tfsec vs Terrascan

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Sam Gabrail

President at TeKanAid

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In this guide, we will be exploring three IaC scanning tools, Checkov, tfsec, and Terrascan. We will go into detail of each tool, as well as compare the features of all three. You can explore the other parts of this guide below.

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Comparing Checkov vs tfsec vs Terrascan: Which IaC Scanning Tool is the Best?

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a popular approach to automate the provisioning and management of cloud computing resources using declarative configuration files. However, IaC also introduces new security challenges and risks that need to be addressed before deploying to production. In this blog post, we will compare three popular IaC scan tools: Checkov, tfsec, and Terrascan. These tools can help you identify and fix security issues in your IaC code before they become vulnerabilities in your cloud environment. We will compare them based on their features, performance, usability, and compatibility with different IaC frameworks and cloud providers.

Comparing IaC Scan Tools: Video walkthrough

Our setup

Let’s take a look at our setup.


  • A GitHub account (all the hands-on sections will utilize GitHub’s Codespaces so you won’t need to install anything on your machine)


TL;DR: You can find the repo here.

What is an IaC scan tool and what is it used for?

Alright, before we dig in, let’s get an understanding of a few concepts. 

An IaC scan tool is a software application that analyzes your IaC files and detects security vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, compliance violations and other issues. IaC scan tools improve the quality and security of IaC files before they are deployed to cloud environments. These tools can help developers, DevSecOps and DevOps teams identify and fix potential problems in their code early in the development lifecycle, reducing the risk of potential data breaches, data leaks, downtime and other incidents.

What is Static Code Analysis?

Static code analysis is a method that examines the source code of a program without running it. Static code analysis tools can automate this process and detect possible errors, security vulnerabilities, and code quality issues. Static code analysis can help developers find and fix problems early in the development cycle, before they become more costly and difficult to resolve. Static code analysis can also help ensure that the code meets certain standards and guidelines, for such issues as coding style, performance, or compliance.

How does IaC scanning work?

IaC scanning works by applying a set of rules or policies to the IaC configuration files that check for common security best practices, such as encryption, authentication, authorization, logging, and monitoring. The rules or policies can be based on industry standards, such as CIS benchmarks, or customized to fit the specific needs of the organization. The IaC scanning tools can then generate a report that shows the results of the analysis, such as the number and severity of vulnerabilities found, the location of the vulnerable code, and the recommended remediation steps. The scan report itself can also be integrated with other tools, such as GitLab or GitHub, to provide feedback and guidance to developers in their workflows.

Why do you need IaC security scanning?

Imagine you are building a house and you have a blueprint that shows how everything should look and work. You wouldn't want to start construction without checking the blueprint for errors, right? You might end up with a leaky roof, a crooked wall, or faulty wiring. That's why you need IaC security scanning. It helps you find and fix any issues in your infrastructure as code before you deploy it to the cloud. It's like having a quality assurance team for your blueprint. IaC security scanning can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

Which IaC scanning tools exist?

Some of the most popular IaC scanning tools are checkov, tfsec, and terrascan. These tools can help you identify common vulnerabilities and best practices in your IaC code, such as Terraform, CloudFormation, Kubernetes, and more. However, they are not perfect and they may have some limitations or false positives. Here is a brief comparison of these three tools and later we will dig deeper into each one.

- Checkov: A comprehensive tool that supports Terraform, CloudFormation, Kubernetes, Helm, Serverless Framework, and more. It has a rich set of features and integrations, such as pre-commit hooks, GitHub actions, VS Code extension, etc. However, it may be slower and more complex than other tools.

- tfsec: A fast and lightweight tool that supports Terrafor. It has a simple installation process and a nice output format. However, it may not cover all the resources or scenarios that you need.

- Terrascan: A modular tool that supports Terraform, Kubernetes, Helm, Dockerfiles, and more. It has a flexible architecture that allows you to write your own policies using Open Policy Agent (OPA). However, it may have a steeper learning curve and less documentation than other tools.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for IaC scanning. You may need to try different tools and see which one works best for your use case. Or you may need to use a combination of tools to achieve the best results. The important thing is to scan your IaC code regularly and fix any issues that you find before they become a problem.

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Sam Gabrail

Sam Gabrail is the President of TeKanAid Solutions Inc., an IT training company focused on DevOps. Sam enjoys creating content to help practitioners upskill in DevOps principles and cloud-native technologies. To learn more, visit the TeKanAid website and blog.
Sam also offers a beginner’s course.


The best way to manage your Terraform

Custom workflows let you model any process you have.

Improve collaboration so your teams are always on the same page with your Infrastructure as Code

Visualize the effect of IaC changes before and after deployment.

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