What is Brakeman?

Brakeman is a static analysis tool designed for Ruby on Rails applications. It scans Rails projects for security vulnerabilities, checking your code against a large list of known issues. Unlike many security tools that require a deep understanding of security practices, Brakeman simplifies the process, offering insights and suggestions directly relevant to Rails development.

Brakeman focuses on Ruby (.rb) files and ERB templates (.html.erb). It analyzes models, controllers, views, and configurations, looking for patterns that match known security issues. This includes SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and many other vulnerabilities.

Installing Brakeman

With Trunk Check, you can automatically install and configure Brakeman along with any relevant linters in a few straightforward steps. Here's how:

First, if you haven't already installed Trunk CLI, you can do so with the command below:

1curl -fsSL | bash

Next, you can initialize Trunk from the root of your git repository:

1trunk init

This command will scan your repository and create a .trunk/trunk.yaml file that enables all linters, formatters, and security analyzers, recommended by Trunk Check. This includes Brakeman if applicable to your project.

To see all available linters Trunk Check installed, simply run:

1trunk check list

If you find Brakeman is not automatically enabled, you can do so by running:

1trunk check enable brakeman

Alternatively, to disable Brakeman run the command below. To disable other tooling applied by Trunk Check, simply replace brakeman with the respective tool you're looking to disable.

1trunk check disable brakeman

For more details on Trunk Check setup, see here.

Configuring Brakeman

Most linters provide some mechanism to tweak their configuration, e.g. .eslintrc or Cargo.toml. Trunk is aware of all the ways individual tools are configured and supports them. This means linters you've already configured will continue to work exactly the same, just now supercharged by Trunk Check.

Like many linters with Trunk, Brakeman works out of the box so there's no need to set up a custom configuration. For more advanced configuration, we recommend checking out Brakeman's docs.

If you're interested in other tooling outside of Brakeman, check out our open-source repository to see how we define and support 90+ linters.

Running Brakeman

To check your code with Brakeman, run the command below. This command executes Brakeman, along with any other linters Trunk Check has enabled on files you've modified. Since Trunk is git-aware, it knows what you've changed, and by adding batched execution and caching, you end up with a much faster and smoother way to run Brakeman and other tools.

1trunk check

If you prefer to check files you've modified with Brakeman only, run the following:

1trunk check --filter=brakeman

Although we'd recommend against it depending on the size of your repository, you can check all files with Brakeman by running the command below.

1trunk check --all --filter=brakeman

In most scenarios, you'll want to execute against modified files. Since Trunk is git-aware, it knows what you've changed, and by adding batched execution and caching, you end up with a much faster and smoother way to run Brakeman and other tools.

Updating Trunk Check & Brakeman

To upgrade the Trunk CLI along with all plugins and linters in your trunk.yaml simply run:

1trunk upgrade

We highly recommend running on the latest validated versions of tools as updates will frequently include important security fixes and additional valuable checks. Trunk only auto-suggests linter upgrades to versions that we have tested and support, so you may see a slight lag time when a new linter version is released.

Upgrade will also recommend new tools that have become applicable since the last time your repository was scanned. This can be a result of using new technologies in your repository or Trunk itself adding support for more tools. If you don't like a particular recommendation, you can always run trunk check disable <linter> to teach trunk not to recommend it.

Recommended Linters to Pair with Brakeman

You can enhance your Ruby on Rails application's security by combining Brakeman with:

  • OSV-Scanner: Identifies dependencies with known vulnerabilities via the OSV database.

  • Trivy: Scans container images and file systems for vulnerabilities, complementing Brakeman's application-level analysis.

  • Nancy: For projects incorporating Go, Nancy checks dependencies against known vulnerabilities, adding another layer of security.