Xray is a DevSecOps tool that works together with Artifactory to check potential security issues between the application dependencies. It’s connected to private and public vulnerability data providers including NVD and VulnDB databases. It has support for multiple package types and different technologies (such as Docker images, npm, or PyPI), and since version 3.21.2 it also supports Conan packages.

In this post, we explain how to make your C/C++ builds secure using Xray with Artifactory. We will go through the setup process using a JFrog free-tier instance that comes with cloud-hosted Artifactory and Xray instances ready for use with Conan. If you still don’t know the JFrog free-tier, you can open an account (it’s completely free) to follow the steps in this post. The Artifactory instance has some limitations like a limit of 10GB of transfer a month and 2GB storage but will be more than enough for personal use or get an idea of how the experience with the JFrog platform is.

Setting up Artifactory: creating a Conan repository

After logging in to the free-tier instance, the first thing is creating a new Conan repository in Artifactory. There’s a getting started button in the free-tier that guides through the process of doing it. For this post, we have created a local repository called test-repo. Once we configure our new repository, we will add it to the Conan local client using conan remote add and conan user commands (you will find detailed instructions in the free-tier getting started guide and in Artifactory documentation).

Setting up Xray: adding policies, rules and watches

The first thing we have to define to start working with Xray is a policy. A policy is just a set of rules, and each of these rules defines a security/license criteria (the licenses option is not available with the free-tier) that will trigger a corresponding set of actions when met. We can create a new policy using the Getting Started button in the free-tier or just going to Administration > Xray > Watches & Policies and creating a new policy.

Creating a new Xray policy

We will create a security policy named mycompany-policy and add one rule to it. Click in New Rule and set low-severity-warning as the rule name. This rule will adjust the minimal severity to low (severity score under 4.0/10.0). You can set the severity warning based on predefined ranges (low, medium, high or critical) or set up a custom CVSS Score range. Multiple actions can be triggered when the rule conditions are satisfied. We will add the Notify Email action for this rule and check what happens when uploading a package with known security issues.

Creating a new Xray rule

The next thing is adding a watch. Watches connect the resources (such as repositories or builds) with the policies. To create the watch, you could use the Getting Started button or go to Administration > Xray > Watches & Policies and selecting the Watches tab. We will create a watch named test-watch that will add our test-repo as a resource (you could also use patterns for repository inclusion or add all the repositories to the watch). Then click on Manage Policies to connect the mycompany-policy policy to the test-repo resource.

Creating a new Xray watch

Please check the Xray documentation about policies, rules and watches for more information.

Testing with the Conan client

Now that we added the policy and connected the Conan repository to that policy with a watch, it is time to test it with the Conan client. We upload a Conan package that’s affected by some vulnerability to the test-repo repository, and we should receive an email warning us about that vulnerability. Let’s try, for example, with openssl/1.1.1h that should be affected by CVE-2020-1971.

$ conan install openssl/1.1.1h@ -r conancenter
$ conan upload openssl/1.1.1h@ --all -c -r test-repo

Just right after this package is uploaded, you should receive an e-mail warning about the policy violation.

Xray policy break warning email

Clicking on the link will take you to your Artifactory instance. Selecting the Xray Data tab will show all the details about the vulnerabilities present in the package.

Vulnerabilities report

Warning about vulnerabilities in uploaded packages is helpful, but you also probably want to prevent anyone from downloading those packages. We will modify the rule we previously added and also check the Block Download option. If we try to install any binary affected by security issues, Xray should block the download.

$ conan remove openssl/1.1.1h@ -f # to force downloading from the server
$ conan install openssl/1.1.1h@ -r test-repo

openssl/1.1.1h: Retrieving from server 'test-repo' 
openssl/1.1.1h: Trying with 'test-repo'...
ERROR: Permission denied for user: 'test-user@jfrog.com'. [Remote: test-repo]

We showed just a simple example of what you can do to make your C/C++ builds more secure using Conan together with Artifactory and Xray. You could also experiment with other options like using the conan_build_info v2 to scan all the packages belonging to one build. Also, you could try setting a webhook in the rules to make more complex actions such as automatically creating a JIRA ticket or sending alerts to a Slack channel.


Making your C/C++ builds more secure with Xray and Artifactory is just a matter of minutes. You can configure the rules that fit your company’s security policies and trigger complex actions using features such as webhooks. If you want to try and run a cloud-hosted Artifactory instance with Xray support, you can create a new Artifactory free-tier account.