Elevating Cloud IaC Security: Harnessing the Power of Terraform Plan Scanning for Terraform Misconfigurations

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In the dynamic landscape of cloud infrastructure and its security, organizations must stay one step ahead of vulnerabilities. That’s why we’re pleased to announce an addition to Cycode Infrastructure as Code (Cycode IaC)!
It is a solution designed to support Terraform users during the process of planning and applying their configurations. This is achieved by scanning Terraform plans to ensure the changes and configurations are secure right before deployment, after considering modules, variables and so on.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the benefits of scanning Terraform plans, highlighting how this proactive approach enhances cloud security, and how Cycode’s CLI empowers you to seamlessly integrate this process into your CI/CD workflows.

The Power of Scanning Terraform Plans

Securing your cloud infrastructure requires more than simply scrutinizing the Terraform code. While analyzing code is essential, Terraform plan files contain dynamic elements, such as injected secrets and variables, which can’t be fully assessed from the static code alone.
By scanning Terraform plans, you gain a comprehensive overview of impending changes, encompassing the modules and variables you’ve incorporated. This provides a holistic understanding of the potential impact before changes are applied. This leads to a stronger security posture.

Introducing Cycode’s CLI Terraform Plan Scanning

Recognizing the need for an advanced security measure, Cycode’s CLI now offers Terraform Plan Scanning, specifically designed for Terraform 0.12 and later versions. This feature seamlessly integrates into your CI/CD pipeline settings, empowering you to bolster your cloud security strategy effortlessly.
Using Cycode’s CLI for Terraform Plan Scanning is a straightforward process, enabling you to detect vulnerabilities at the planning stage before they evolve into actual risks (you’ll find detailed documentation in GitHub).

Automating Cloud Security with Cycode CLI

Efficiency is key in modern security practices, and Cycode’s CLI Terraform Plan Scanning offers automation options that streamline your workflows. By utilizing the –output json option, the output becomes programmatically accessible, allowing you to seamlessly integrate the scanning process into your existing pipelines.
Here’s a quick demonstration of how you can leverage Cycode’s CLI to automate Terraform plan scanning within a CI workflow:


# Initialize Terraform
terraform init

# Create Terraform execution plan and save the binary output
terraform plan -out=tfplan_output

# Convert the binary output file into readable JSON
terraform show -json tfplan_output > tfplan.json

# Scan your tfplan.json with Cycode CLI and save the scan output to a file
cycode --output json scan -t iac path tfplan.json > scan_output.json

# Analyze the Cycode scan JSON output for high or critical severity issues
ISSUE_COUNT=$(jq '.issues | map(select(.severity == "high" or .severity == "critical")) | length' scan_output.json)

# Check if any high or critical severity issues were found
if [ "$ISSUE_COUNT" -gt 0 ]; then
    echo "Found $ISSUE_COUNT high or critical severity issues. Review and address accordingly."
    # You could integrate further actions like sending notifications, failing the CI job, etc.
    echo "No high or critical severity issues found. Proceed with confidence!"

In this Bash example, we use the jq command-line tool to parse the JSON output and extract the count of issues with severity higher than medium (representing high or critical severities). Depending on the count, you can conditionally trigger different actions within your CI workflow.


As the cloud landscape evolves, so must security strategies. Terraform Plan Scanning is emerging as an essential tool to protect your cloud infrastructure from misconfigurations. Just as Cycode’s S3 Scanning expanded the way in which Cycode safeguards S3 buckets, Terraform Plan Scanning elevates how one can approach the integrity of Terraform configurations. By seamlessly integrating security into your CI/CD pipeline using Cycode’s CLI, you’re proactively shaping a more secure digital future.

For more information on setting up and using Terraform plan scan in Cycode, book a demo with our team, or check out the full documentation that provides details on the setup process, usage instructions, and additional information on the feature.

Originally published: September 13, 2023