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Grégoire Willmann
Grégoire Willmann

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

Automatic security tests in Jenkins with OWASP ZAP

OWASP ZAP is a very popular tool used to find vulnerabilities in your codebase and in your instance/server setup.


What it basically does is crawl through your website and then scan for vulnerabilities on all the URLs it found during the crawl.

A session is an instance of a test. Inside a session you can have multiple contexts.

Contexts help ZAP only scan the URLs you want.

For example if you include directly bootstrap in your pages with:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="">

ZAP will inevitably find this URL. And since you most certainly don’t want ZAP to scan for vulnerabilities, you exclude it of the context.

So you include or exclude URLs from the context based on what you want it to scan.

Before following this guide, you should probably play the OWASP ZAP client on your computer to understand the basic concepts.

Brace yourself it’s going to be a long journey to setup the OWASP ZAP Jenkins plugin!

Download and install OWASP ZAP on your Jenkins instance

Go to and download the version of the client for your platform.

Unzip it and move the folder to /usr/local/bin for example.

Then set the environment variable ZAPROXY_HOME to the path of your ZAP proxy installation folder:

vim /etc/environment

and paste the following content:


Install the OWASP ZAP plugin

To install the official OWASP ZAP plugin on your Jenkins instance go toManage Jenkins -> Manage Plugins -> Available (it is a tab) -> look for OWASP ZAP.

plugin to install

Install it.

Configure the plugin by going to Manage Jenkins -> Configure System and filling out the following fields.

Port 8089 is an example, you can choose the port you want here

Create a new Jenkins job

Create a new freestyle project and fill in the following fields:

  • Discard old builds

To make sure our project doesn’t use too much space

  • Build Trigger (optional)

To run the job every sunday at 2AM

  • Add the Execute ZAP build step

Inside the Execute ZAP build step:

It should reflect the fields values filled in the step where you installed the plugin

Specifies where the OWASP ZAP bin is installed on our Jenkins instance

Should be the path to the directory of the Jenkins job you are creating

Remember when we talked about context? Here you specify which URLs should be included and excluded. Here is where I host the website I want to test. The * means that I want ZAP to include in the context all the URLs starting by

Tell ZAP to first crawl for URLs and then scan the URLs it found

Tell ZAP which reports to generate and where to place them

Finally go back to the Session Management section which requires more explanation than the other ones:

If you tick the checkbox Persist Session ZAP will create a new session for you. It is the easiest option to setup but also the least thorough.

You see if your web application has a login page, ZAP won’t know the credentials to use in order to gain access to the private zone of your web app. So ZAP will only attack the public part of your website and miss a good portion of it.

To help ZAP know the credentials, what you would have to do is use the GUI client on your computer to generate a ZAP session in which you assign a valid session cookie for example. You would then export and upload the session you created to your new Jenkins Job folder and then tick the Load Session checkbox and select your session in the select list.

For our basic example we will tick the Persist Session checkbox

  • Add a Publish HTML reports post-build step

And that’s it! Either manually build the job or wait for your cron schedule to execute it and you should see the HTML report of ZAP tests in your Jenkins job dashboard.

Click on Vulnerability Report to see the results of the security tests

Let me know if I missed anything!

Top comments (9)

jadgit profile image

Thanks a lot for this interesting article!
I have tried to configure Zap in jenkins by following the same steps, but i have a error that i could not fix!
It is :
ERROR: java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: ZAP INSTALLATION DIRECTORY IS MISSING, PROVIDED [ null ]

gwllmnn profile image
Grégoire Willmann • Edited

Are you sure the installation directory variable is set on your system?

Could you do echo $NAME_OF_YOUR_INSTALLATION_DIR_VAR and see if it is correctly set?


jadgit profile image

Hi, thank you for your answer.

Yes, i added the variable (ZAP Installation Directory) in the PATH (system variable) and still have the same probleme.

However, i fixed it by setting the environment variable in the jenkins configuration (name & value under manage jenkins-> Global setting) and it works finally!

filipe_f_silva profile image
Filipe Silva

Hey Grégoire,

Take a look at Probely ( and gives us your feedback.


gwllmnn profile image
Grégoire Willmann

Hello Filipe,

Seems nice! But in my case I can have the same functionalities for free with Jenkins.

nunoloureiro profile image
Nuno Loureiro

Hi Grégoire, not really sure if I understood your comment. Probely has a plugin that can be used within Jenkins to perform dynamic application security testing.

Thread Thread
selaru profile image

And Gregoire said he can do the same thing, but with owasp zap instead, since it's free. so why pay for probely?

Thread Thread
nunoloureiro profile image
Nuno Loureiro

@selaru , not really trying to argue here, just wanted to understand his comment.

If you ignore the cost for a human resource to operate it, then yes, Zap is free. Zap is better suitable for a pentester, to help him/her doing the pentest. Probely is more suitable for point&shoot and wait for the results. Two different scenarios.

surjendu104 profile image

Thanks for this article. It really helps me