Policy Overview

Configuring policies, and writing custom ones.

Terrascan policies are written using the Rego policy language. With each rego policy, a JSON “rule” file is included which defines metadata for the policy. Policies included within Terrascan are stored in the pkg/policies/opa/rego directory.

Updating Terrascan with the latest policies

The first time using Terrascan, if the -p flag is not specified, Terrascan will download the latest policies from the Terrascan repository. You can update your local environment to the latest policies published in the repository by running terrascan init.

Ignoring Policies on a scan

Terrascan keeps a copy of policies on your local filesystem on the ~/.terrascan/pkg/policies/opa/rego directory. You can also specify a particular directory with rego policies to scan by using the -p flag. Terrascan allows you to ignore policies from scans by using the –skip-rules flag or using in-file instrumentation to skip policies on a particular resource.

Adding policies

For each policy, there are 2 files required by Terrascan, a rule .json file with metadata for the policy and a .rego rego file for the policy itself.

Writing an OPA rego policy file

The input for the rego policies is the normalized input from the IaC provider. When writing policies you can obtain this as a normalized .json by using the --config-only flag of the scan command in combination with -o json. Let’s use this Terraform HCL file for example:

resource "github_repository" "example" {
  name        = "example"
  description = "My awesome codebase"

  private = false

  template {
    owner = "github"
    repository = "terraform-module-template"

Here’s the output of the --config-only flag.

$ terrascan scan -i terraform --config-only -o json
  "github_repository": [
      "id": "github_repository.example",
      "name": "example",
      "source": "main.tf",
      "line": 1,
      "type": "github_repository",
      "config": {
        "description": "My awesome codebase",
        "name": "example",
        "private": false,
        "template": [
            "owner": "github",
            "repository": "terraform-module-template"

You can use this .json output as the input in the rego playgound. The following policy can be used on the above Terraform to flag if the GitHub repository has been created with private = false.

package accurics

privateRepoEnabled[api.id] {
    api := input.github_repository[_]
    not api.config.private == true
    not api.config.visibility == "private"

A successful policy will trigger the following output:

    "privateRepoEnabled": [

The Rule JSON file

The rule files follow this naming convention: AC_<policy_type>_<next_available_rule_number>.json where <policy_type> is the upper case of any supported policy types by terrascan. The supported policy types can be fetched from Terrascan’s help menu: terrascan scan -h | grep "policy-type".

Note: The previous naming convention was: <cloud-provider>.<resource-type>.<rule-category>.<severity>.<next-available-rule-number>.json. This has been deprecated.

Here’s an example of the contents of a rule file:

	"name": "unrestrictedIngressAccess",
	"file": "unrestrictedIngressAccess.rego",
	"policy_type": "aws",
	"resource_type": "aws_db_security_group",
	"template_args": {
		"name": "unrestrictedIngressAccess",
		"prefix": "",
		"suffix": ""
	"severity": "HIGH",
	"description": "It is recommended that no security group allows unrestricted ingress access",
	"category": "NETWORK_SECURITY",
	"version": 1,
	"id": "AC_AWS_0001"
Key Value
name Short name for the rule
file Filename of the Rego policy
policy_type Type of cloud provider used by this rule (e.g. aws, azure, docker, gcp, github, k8s, etc.)
resource_type IaC resource applicable to the policy
template_args Used for making rego policies unique
severity Likelihood * impact of issue
description Description of the issue found with this rule
ruleReferenceId (deprecated) This field was used in previous versions of Terrascan, but has been replaced by id.
category Descriptive category for this rule
version Version number for the rule/rego

Last modified May 16, 2022 : Updates references to Tenable (dc76628)