Security of running jobs

When using GitLab Runner you should be aware of potential security implications when running your jobs.

Usage of Shell executor

Generally, it’s unsafe to run tests with shell executors. The jobs are run with user’s permissions (GitLab Runner’s) and can steal code from other projects that are run on this server. Use only it for running the trusted builds.

Usage of Docker executor

Docker can be considered safe when running in non-privileged mode. To make such setup more secure it’s advised to run jobs as a user (non-root) in Docker containers with disabled sudo or dropped SETUID and SETGID capabilities.

On the other hand, there’s a privileged mode which enables full access to the host system, permission to mount and unmount volumes, and run nested containers. It’s not advised to run containers in privileged mode.

More granular permissions can be configured in non-privileged mode via the cap_add/cap_drop settings.

Usage of private Docker images with if-not-present pull policy

When using the private Docker images support described in advanced configuration: using a private container registry you should use always as the pull_policy value. Especially you should use always pull policy if you are hosting a public, shared Runner with the Docker or Kubernetes executors.

Let’s consider an example where the pull policy is set to if-not-present:

  1. User A has a private image at
  2. User A starts a build on a shared runner: The build receives the registry credentials and pulls the image after authorization in registry.
  3. The image is stored on a shared Runner’s host.
  4. User B doesn’t have access to the private image at
  5. User B starts a build that is using this image on the same shared Runner as User A: Runner finds a local version of the image and uses it even if the image could not be pulled because of missing credentials.

Therefore, if you host a Runner that can be used by different users and different projects (with mixed private, and public access levels) you should never use if-not-present as the pull policy value, but use:

  • never - If you want to limit users to use the only image pre-downloaded by you.
  • always - If you want to give users the possibility to download any image from any registry.

The if-not-present pull policy should be used only for specific Runners used by trusted builds and users.

Read the pull policies documentation for more information.

Systems with Docker installed

Note: This applies to installations below 0.5.0 or ones that were upgraded to the newer version.

When installing the package on Linux systems with Docker installed, gitlab-runner will create a user that will have permission to access the Docker daemon. This makes the jobs that run with the shell executor able to access docker with full permissions and potentially allows root access to the server.

Usage of SSH executor

SSH executors are susceptible to MITM attack (man-in-the-middle), because of missing StrictHostKeyChecking option. This will be fixed in one of the future releases.

Usage of Parallels executor

Parallels executor is the safest possible option because it uses full system virtualization and with VM machines that are configured to run in the isolated virtualization and VM machines that are configured to run in isolated mode. It blocks access to all peripherals and shared folders.

Cloning a runner

Runners use a token to identify to the GitLab Server. If you clone a runner then the cloned runner could be picking up the same jobs for that token. This is a possible attack vector to “steal” runner jobs.