Cybersecurity researchers have recently discovered a significant security threat on Docker Hub [2], where millions of malicious “imageless” repositories have been found over the past five years.


Recent findings by cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a significant security threat on Docker Hub, where millions of malicious “imageless” repositories have been embedded over the past five years. These repositories lack an actual image and instead contain only repository documentation that directs users to harmful websites [2]. JFrog’s security research team identified over four million imageless repositories on Docker Hub, posing a risk for cyber-attacks [2].

Malicious campaigns targeting Docker Hub users have been identified [2], including those offering pirated content [2], e-book phishing campaigns [1] [2] [3], and downloader campaigns connecting to command-and-control (C2) servers [2] [4]. These campaigns aim to steal financial information [2], harvest data [2], and distribute malware disguised as cracked software [2]. The challenge with imageless repositories lies in their deceptive appearance [2], making them difficult to identify and safeguard against [2].

To address these threats, Docker has implemented a mechanism to block external links in description pages of imageless repositories to prevent similar incidents in the future [1]. Security experts stress the importance of downloading from verified publishers [2], examining repository documentation for inconsistencies [2], staying informed about security threats [2], and using vulnerability scanners like Vulert to detect and address potential risks before deployment [2]. This underscores the importance of enhanced moderation on Docker Hub and greater community involvement in detecting and mitigating malicious activity within the container ecosystem.


The presence of malicious “imageless” repositories on Docker Hub poses a significant security risk, with potential impacts including data theft and malware distribution. To mitigate these threats, it is crucial for users to download from trusted sources, carefully review repository documentation, and stay informed about security risks. Enhanced moderation and community involvement are essential for detecting and preventing malicious activity within the container ecosystem in the future.