How does it work?

Anchore takes a data-driven approach to analysis and policy enforcement. The system essentially has discrete phases for each image analyzed:

  • Fetch the image content and extract it, but never execute it
  • Analyze the image by running a set of Anchore analyzers over the image content to extract and classify as much metadata as possible
  • Save the resulting analysis in the database for future use and audit
  • Evaluate policies against the analysis result, including vulnerability matches on the artifacts discovered in the image
  • Update to the latest external data used for policy evaluation and vulnerability matches (we call this external data sync a feed sync), and automatically update image analysis results against any new data found upstream.
  • Notify users of changes to policy evaluations and vulnerability matches Repeat 5 & 6 on intervals to ensure latest external data and updated image evaluations

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The primary interface is a RESTful API that provides mechanisms to request analysis, policy evaluation, and monitoring of images in registries as well as query for image contents and analysis results. We also provide a CLI and its own container.

There are, generally speaking, two different ways to use Anchore, within its single API:

  • Interactive Mode - Use the APIs to explicitly request an image analysis, get a policy evaluation and content reports, but the system only performs operations when specifically requested by a user
  • Watch Mode - Use the APIs to configure Anchore Enterprise to poll specific registries and repositories/tags to watch for new images added and automatically pull and evaluate them, emitting notifications when a given tag’s vulnerability or policy evaluation state changes

With these two modes of operation, integration into CI/CD with Interative Mode or less intrusive watching of production image repositories with Watch Mode, Anchore can be easily integrated into most environments and processes.

Next Steps

Now let’s get familiar with Images in Anchore.