How to check your Java dependencies for OWASP vulnerabilities and security issues

The OWASP dependency-check provides monitoring of the libraries you use in your Java project to identify the use of known vulnerable components.

It produces an individual analysis report for the issue of “Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities” which is listed in the OWASP Top Ten 2017.

Gradle plugin

The gradle plugin can create a report of known vulnerable components that are included in the build of your project. You include it in your build.gradle:

buildscript {
    repositories {
    dependencies {
        classpath 'org.owasp:dependency-check-gradle:3.1.2'
apply plugin: 'org.owasp.dependencycheck'

Afterwards you should integrate the check into your build system by using the command:

./gradlew dependencyCheckAnalyze

Integration with Gitlab CI

If you are using Gitlab CI and you do not want to execute the check on every CI build, because your dependencies do not change that often and the check itself can take a few minutes depending on the libraries you are using, you can schedule a pipeline in your project and restrict the task’s execution to that scheduled (nightly) build. Here is an excerpt for your .gitlab-ci.yml file that you place in your project root folder:

  - dependencyCheck
  # etc.

  stage: dependencyCheck
    - schedules
    - ./gradlew dependencyCheckAnalyze
    name: "${CI_JOB_ID}_${CI_JOB_NAME}"
    when: always
    expire_in: 30 day
      - build/reports/dependency-check-report.html

When executed, the plugin will create the dependency check HTML report and Gitlab will archive it for 30 days.


You can configure the gradle plugin by applying a closure in your build.gradle like the one below that will fail the build when a CVSS score equal to or above a level 5 is identified:

dependencyCheck {
  failBuildOnCVSS = 5
  failOnError = true
  suppressionFile = 'config/dependencyCheck/suppressions.xml'
  analyzers {
    experimentalEnabled = true
    archiveEnabled = true
    jarEnabled = true
    centralEnabled = true
    nexusEnabled = true
    pyDistributionEnabled = false
    pyPackageEnabled = false
    rubygemsEnabled = false
    opensslEnabled = false
    nuspecEnabled = false
    assemblyEnabled = false
    cmakeEnabled = false
    autoconfEnabled = true
    composerEnabled = false
    nodeEnabled = true
    nspEnabled = false
    cocoapodsEnabled = false
    swiftEnabled = false

Personally, I like to put configurations like this one in separate files (e.g. in gradle/plugins) and apply their contents to the build.gradle like this:

apply from: "gradle/plugins/dependency-check.gradle"


In the configuration example above I defined my path to a suppression file relative to the build.gradle:

dependencyCheck {
  suppressionFile = 'config/dependencyCheck/suppressions.xml'

In config/dependencyCheck/suppressions.xml I can define which warnings should be ignored. This way I can define False Positives or known (minor) issues I want or have to ignore until a dependency update. Example:

<xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8">
<suppressions xmlns="">
  file name: async-http-client-netty-utils-2.1.0-alpha25.jar
      <gav regex="true">^org\.asynchttpclient:async-http-client-netty-utils:.*$</gav>

You can also create hints for False Negatives.