The Top 5 Free Vulnerability Scanners of 2024

Vulnerability scanners are useful tools to proactively surface and remediate security issues. Compare the top free vulnerability scanners below.

Charlie Klein - Director of Product Marketing at Jit
By Charlie Klein
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated June 18, 2024.

A software developer using a laptop with a padlock on the screen to signify application security tools

Free vulnerability scanners are a great way to begin scanning your cloud applications and infrastructure for security issues, and proactively resolving vulnerabilities before attackers can find them.

These tools can be implemented at every stage of the SDLC, from code planning to production, depending on your preferences and objectives. As a domain, vulnerability scanners cover use cases such as code scanning, dependency reviews, and secret detection. They can analyze code statically in repos or dynamically in runtime.

Let's dive into the factors to consider when choosing a vulnerability scanner, before reviewing our top five suggestions.

How to choose a vulnerability scanner

When securing your SDLC, choosing a vulnerability scanner will be among your first steps.

At its core, vulnerability scanners aim to ensure that applications and cloud infrastructure are built, maintained, and updated in a manner that shields them from malicious attacks and security breaches.

That said, there are some specific factors to consider when narrowing your decision.

  • What phase of the tech stack are you looking to secure? Generally speaking, those looking to surface vulnerabilities in the code they write should look at SAST, secrets detection, and DAST tools. Use SCA and SBOM tools to ensure you're using secure open source components. Consider container scanning tools if you're looking to scan Dockerfiles, container registries, or containers in runtime. And finally, evaluate IaC scanning tools and CSPM tools to surface cloud security misconfigurations.
  • Where do you want to integrate vulnerability scanning? Many security and engineering teams are looking to shift security left in the SDLC. Consider SAST, secrets detection, and SCA tools to find vulnerabilities early. You can also shift left your cloud security scanning with IaC security. CSPM and DAST can only be integrated later on in the SDLC.
  • What is your tolerance for false positives? Generally speaking, tools that analyze code statically will have a higher false positive rate, because they don't understand the runtime context to determine whether a real vulnerability exists in production. Vulnerability scanners that scan the runtime environment tend to have a lower false positive rate.
  • Do you have any compliance requirements? Many security compliance requirements will include application security and cloud infrastructure security practices. Use the vulnerability scanner overviews below to map toolsets to these compliance requirements.

Deep Dive Into the Top 5 Free Vulnerability Scanners

Since we're reviewing free vulnerability scanners, let's review the top open source application and security tools out there to proactively identify and remediation vulnerabilities.

Best SAST tool for Python


a screen shot of a PyCharm Python Security plugin web page

Pycharm Python Security Scanner

Security scanner for python wrapped as a plugin

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Rule coverage and accuracy

Wide coverage of Python security issues.

Ease of integration and user experience

Integrates easily with GitHub Actions

Scalability and performance

Analyzing and securing Python codebases within the PyCharm IDE

Community support and documentation

Assists users in effectively using and configuring security features within the PyCharm IDE

Pycharm Python Security Scanner is a security scanner for Python code wrapped as a Pycharm plugin, checking for vulnerabilities while also suggesting fixes. Alongside acting as a comprehensive security scanner, it also offers some additional extensions that can run dependency check analysis as well.

What makes it unique is that beyond being a plugin, it also available as a CI/CD workflow for GitHub Actions in the Github Marketplace.

  • Over 20 builtin code checks giving your contextual security warnings in your code
  • Misconfiguration warnings for Django and Flask web frameworks
  • Cross-Site-Scripting detection for both Jinja2 and Mako templating engines
  • SQL Injection detection in all Python string formats
  • Automatic reporting of known vulnerabilities and CVEs in your installed Python Packages within PyCharm
  • Detection of security flaws and misconfiguration in 3rd party libraries like Jinja2, Paramiko and Mako
  • Can be used to scan large code bases with inspection profiles
  • Configurable alert levels and warning suppression by file, line, or project
  • Scan code in your CI/CD using Docker

Contextual security warnings

Web framework misconfiguration warnings

Cross-Site-Scripting (XSS) detection

SQL Injection detection

Automatic reporting of known vulnerabilities

Limited language support

Most configurable SAST tool across various programming languages


a screenshot of a cell phone with the text developers trust findings from


Highly configurable SAST tool

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Rule coverage and accuracy

Broad coverage with customizable rules to tailor findings

Ease of integration and user experience

Semgrep integrates into the SCM or IDE

Scalability and performance

Ability to quickly analyze code in large projects and its performance in delivering results efficiently

Community support and documentation

Wide support from the community and Semgrep company

Semgrep is a highly-configurable SAST tool for identifying patterns in the syntax tree. It can either run locally using Docker or be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline with Github Actions.

Results are delivered as JSON files, allowing you to pipe the results into other tools, like jq in order to manipulate them.

  • Runs anywhere, from CLI to CI/CD. Findings can be surfaced in developer workflows, their cloud platform, or ingested into your existing tools via API
  • Built with the capabilities needed to enforce any type of AppSec program and designed to let teams tailor these capabilities to their needs
  • Rules are visible to users and their syntax is similar to the source code
  • 10 second median CI scan time
  • AI recommendations for addressing findings
  • Secure existing SDLC processes without slowing developers down

Fast scan times and high accuracy for SAST

Highly configurable rule set

Support for multiple languages

Easy integration into CI/CD pipelines and IDE

Active community and regular updates

Potential learning curve for new users

Best for finding secret leaks in code repositories


a screenshot of a gitleaks web page


Protect and discover secrets

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Rule coverage and accuracy

Hundreds of patterns that look for a wide variety of secrets

Ease of integration and user experience

Gitleaks easily integrates into the SCM and the IDE.

Scalability and performance

Gitleaks can scan large repos in minutes

Community support and documentation

Extensive documentation

Gitleaks is a great project used for detecting very efficiently hardcoded secrets based on a configuration file containing hundreds of built-in regex expressions tailored to find API keys of popular SaaS platforms. It can run locally using Docker and or be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline with GitHub Actions.

Results are delivered in various formats and the rules can be easily extended to match your internal patterns.

  • Can detect and prevent hardcoded secrets like passwords, API keys, and tokens in git repos
  • An easy-to-use, all-in-one solution for detecting past or present secrets in your code
  • Can be installed using Homebrew, Docker, or Go
  • Available in binary form for many popular platforms and OS types
  • Can be implemented as a pre-commit hook directly in your repo or as a GitHub action using Gitleaks-Action

Sensitive information detection

Customizable ruleset

Seamless CI/CD integration

Efficient scanning for large repositories

Active community support

Possibility of false positives or negatives

No ability to verify whether secrets are accessible in production

Best manual and automated web vulnerability scanner


a screen shot of a Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) web page

Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

Open-source tool for dynamic scanning

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Rule coverage and accuracy

A wide variety of rules that analyze applications in different ways

Ease of integration and User experience

Can be difficult to configure and deploy. See Jit's DAST for simple OWASP deployment.

Scalability and performance

Scans can require long durations for complex environments.

Community support and documentation

ZAP is the most popular DAST tool in the world, with dedicated maintainers

OWASPs Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is another open-source tool, used for dynamic scanning (DAST). It can run locally using Docker and is providing a Github workflow to run in the CI/CD pipeline.

The common output for this tool is a report in HTML but you can also get it in JSON using some add-on.

  • ZAP full scan attacks the web application to find additional vulnerabilities
  • Alerts are maintained as a GitHub issue in the corresponding repository, meaning that the script does perform actual "attacks" and can potentially run for a long period of time
  • Full scan can run against a publicly available web application or against a locally available web application
  • A detailed report (available in HTML and Markdown formats) is attached to the workflow run to get more information regarding the identified alerts
  • Use the rules file to ignore false positives that occur during the ZAP scan
  • The action will identify fixed issues or newly raised alerts in consequent scans and update the issue with the required information

Relatively low false positive rate

Large set of rules to surface a broad variety of application vulnerabilities, including OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities

Automated security testing in CI/CD

Integration with GitHub actions

The most popular DAST tool in the world

Potential complexity in setup and configuration

Best IaC security scanner


a screen shot of a KICS web page


Code static analysis of infrastructure

Learn More

Rule coverage and accuracy

Covers all major cloud providers, Terraform, Pulumi, and Crossplane

Ease of integration and user experience

Fast integration into CI/CD pipeline

Scalability and performance

Scans large IaC scripts quickly

Community support and documentation

Maintained by Checkmarx

KICS (Keeping Infrastructure as Code Secure) is an open-source project by Checkmarx, dedicated to fortifying the security of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). As a crucial element in contemporary DevOps, IaC enables organizations to codify and oversee infrastructure.

KICS responds to the escalating security demands in this area by delivering a robust static analysis tool crafted specifically for IaC scripts.

  • KICS conducts thorough security scans for IaC scripts, identifying vulnerabilities and misconfigurations
  • Offers compatibility with major cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud for widespread cloud infrastructure security.
  • Compatible with Terraform, Pulumi, and Crossplane
  • Fosters community collaboration, allowing customization through an extensible architecture
  • Seamlessly integrates into CI/CD pipelines for automated security checks during development
  • Utilizes a robust query language for defining security and compliance checks, tailoring scans to specific requirements

Comprehensive IaC security

Extensive rule library

Easy integration


Active community support

Learning curve for new users

Leveraging Jit for Application and Cloud Security

Free vulnerability scanners are a great way to get started with SDLC security. However, using multiple scanners can be difficult to integrate maintain, and require developers to context switch when analyzing vulnerabilities.

If you're looking for a simpler solution that developers can easily adopt, consider Jit's Open ASPM Platform, which empowers developers to integrate security seamlessly into every stage of the development process with a unique developer UX that is easy to adopt.

Jit offers a complete suite of tools specifically tailored to enhance application and cloud security throughout the Software Development Lifecycle. It covers SAST, SCA, secrets detection, IaC scanning, CSPM, DAST, and CI/CD security, which can be rolled out across repos in minutes.