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WhiteSource Advise for IntelliJ IDEA is a plug-in for the IntelliJ IDEA Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that is designed to empower developers with important, valuable information on security vulnerabilities concerning open-source components employed in their development projects.

WhiteSource Advise for IntelliJ IDEA does the following:

  • It facilitates workflows by making critical component vulnerability information available to the software developer from within the IDE, preventing the need to use a separate application for such purpose.

  • It implements automatic vulnerability checking in the background that allows for immediate feedback to the user as she types. For example, a new component reference that is being typed into a project's pom.xml or build.gradle file will be automatically analyzed for security vulnerabilities.

  • It offers a transparent UX for developers, by seamlessly integrating with the IDE environment: it highlights project open source components found to have reported security vulnerabilities (CVEs), displays information on such vulnerabilities, and offers recommendations for fixing them.

Support for Languages and Package Managers

WhiteSource Advise for IntelliJ IDEA supports Java, Kotlin and Scala projects using Maven (pom.xml dependency files), and supports Java projects using Gradle (build.gradle dependency files).


  • Gradle Kotlin projects are not supported in WhiteSource Advise.

  • When using the "apply from" script plugin in Gradle projects, remote script location is not supported.


Ensure the following prerequisites are met:

  • A valid license for WhiteSource for Developers

  • A license key for WhiteSource Advise for IDE, available via one of the following options:

    • If you do not have direct access to the WhiteSource Application, obtain the license key from your WhiteSource Administrator.

    • If you have access to the WhiteSource Application, do as follows (NOTE: This option is only available when using version 20.11.1 or later of WhiteSource Advise):

      1. Go to the WhiteSource Application.

      2. Open the Profile page.

      3. In the WhiteSource Advise - IDE Integration section at the bottom, select your organization.

      4. Copy your personal license key to be used later in Activating WhiteSource Advise.

  • Java JDK 1.8 and up (see here for instructions) or OpenJDK 1.8 and up is installed

  • Depending on whether scanning Maven or Gradle applications, note the following guidelines:

    • Apache Maven application is installed and the Maven path and all environment variables are set up (see here for instructions).

    • Gradle application is installed and the Gradle path and all environment variables are set up. NOTE: Gradle version 4.8 or above must be installed.

  • IntelliJ IDEA is installed and you are familiar with its basic functionality

Supported Versions

The plugin supports IntelliJ IDEA 2017.2 and above (both Community and Ultimate versions). The last tested version is 2021.2.2.

Limitation - Gradle support for the following IntelliJ IDEA versions are not supported on macOS: 

  • 2019.1

Installing WhiteSource Advise

To install WhiteSource Advise, do as follows:

  1. Start IntelliJ IDEA.

  2. From the menu bar, select File > Settings. The Settings screen is displayed.

  3. From the left sidebar, click Plugins.

  4. In the Search box, enter whitesource and then press Enter from your keyboard. The WhiteSource Advise plugin information is displayed.

  5. Click Install and then click Restart IDE.

  6. In the pop-up dialog box, click Restart.

Activating WhiteSource Advise

To activate WhiteSource Advise, do as follows:

  1. Start IntelliJ IDEA, specifying the preferred project.

  2. From the sidebar on the right, click WhiteSource (if you do not see the sidebar, select View >Tool Windows > WhiteSource). The Welcome screen is displayed.

  3. In Email, enter your organizational email (the email domain must be licensed to use Advise).

  4. In License Key, enter your license key (See here for more information on how to obtain a license key). 

  5. Click Connect.

NOTE: If you check Remember Token, the login credentials will be stored for later use. Once stored, the WhiteSource Advise login credentials will be used for all projects.

Configuring WhiteSource Advise

Changes made to the WhiteSource settings will only apply after running the next scan.

You can configure the WhiteSource settings on a global or a project level. See the following sections.

Global-Level Configuration

To configure WhiteSource Advise on a global level, do as follows:

  1. From the menu bar, select File > Settings. The Settings screen is displayed.

  2. Select Tools > WhiteSource.

  3. In Scan Results Settings, review the options and modify if necessary. See here for a list of all options.

  4. Click OK.

Project-Level Configuration

To configure WhiteSource Advise on a project-level, do as follows:

  1. From the menu bar, select File > Settings. The Settings screen is displayed.

  2. Select Tools > WhiteSource > Project Settings. The Project Settings screen is displayed.

  3. In Scan Results Settings, review the options and modify if necessary. See here for a list of all options.

  4. By default, all settings are inherited from the global-level configuration. To override the specific configuration on project level, clear the Inherit from global settings checkbox.

  5. Click OK.

Options Table



Default Setting

Only show issues for direct dependencies

When enabled, WhiteSource Advise will only return vulnerabilities for direct dependencies defined in your dependency file.

Unselected (not checked)

Minimum vulnerability severity level

Alert only on detected vulnerabilities satisfying a Low/Medium/High minimum severity level.

  • Low - Vulnerability alerts for all severities (Low, Medium, High) are displayed.

  • Medium- Vulnerability alerts only for Medium or High severities are displayed.

  • High - Vulnerability alerts only for High severities are displayed.


Scanning a Project for Security Vulnerabilities

To scan a project, do one of the following:

  • From the menu bar, select Tools > WhiteSource Advise

  • From the top toolbar, click the WhiteSource icon

  • Do as follows:

    1. From the sidebar on the right, click WhiteSource.

    2. From the top, click Advise.

    3. Click Run WhiteSource Advise.

Developer Focus Mode

The Developer Focus Mode allows developers to see only vulnerability alerts that are new in their feature branches compared to a predefined base branch. This promotes the security shift left approach and empowers developers to fix newly introduced vulnerabilities immediately, as part of their feature development efforts and prior to merging vulnerable code into production branches.

To enable Focus Mode, do as follows::

  • In the WhiteSource Advise project-level configuration, enable the Diff operation to be performed on a base branch checkbox.

  • Choose the base branch to which all other branch scans will be compared.

  • Make sure your base branch is checked out, then trigger a WhiteSource Advise scan either manually or by building your project.

In case there was no scan on the predefined base branch after its initial configuration, all branches will show all the scan results, not just the newly created security alerts. 

Every time the base branch configuration changes, a WhiteSource Advise scan must be triggered on that branch prior to seeing new security results.   

Vulnerable Commit Alert

An alert can be enabled to notify about newly added vulnerabilities when committing the code inside the IntelliJ. This alert will appear only if the committed feature branches have new vulnerabilities compared to a preconfigured base branch.

To enable a Vulnerable Commit Alert, do as follows:

  • Enable the Focus Mode (enable the Diff operation, choose the base branch, and trigger a WhiteSource Advise scan).

  • Go to Setting > Version Control > Commit > Before Commit and make sure that Notify on new OS vulnerabilities is enabled.

In case the feature branch contains new vulnerabilities (that were not presented in the base branch), a pop up will suggest to review the found vulnerabilities or commit anyway.

Reviewing Scan Results

To view scan results, do as follows:

  1. Click the Inspection Results tab at the bottom (it may be already open).

  2. Ensure that you are in the WhiteSource Security Check tab (it is part of the Inspection Results area). This tab features information on vulnerability issues found inside the current project. For every module, the relevant vulnerabilities are displayed via either a pom.xml (Maven) or build.gradle (Gradle) item. Note the following functionality:

    • Next to each pom.xml or build.gradle item, a total number of errors and warnings are displayed in this format, for example, <pom.xml 20 errors 32 warnings>. High severity security vulnerabilities are represented as errors, and medium/low-security vulnerabilities are represented as warnings

    • Each component within the pom.xml or build.gradle item list consists of the following metadata:

      • Component groupId

      • Component artifactId

      • Component version

      • Vulnerability unique identifier

      • Indication of transitive or direct dependency

    • Double-clicking a component will open up the pom.xml or build.gradle file in which it was referenced. It will point to the direct dependency you declared.

Displaying Vulnerability Information for a Scanned Component

This section describes how WhiteSource Advise can be used to display security vulnerability details for a project, via IntelliJ's main code view.

Open the WhiteSource security check tab and do as follows:

  • To quickly locate the component referenced by a reported vulnerability in the project’s pom.xml or build.gradle view, double-click the component in the WhiteSource security check tab. The referenced component description in the pom.xml or build.gradle file will be displayed and highlighted in the main code view.

  • To quickly locate vulnerability analysis results for a component in the pom.xml or build.gradle view, click the WhiteSource Advise severity icon displayed to the left of that component reference in the pom.xml. Note that the icon denotes the severity of the vulnerability (yellow: low severity; orange: medium severity; red: high severity). A tooltip featuring relevant analysis details including a dependency path from the proprietary code to the open-source component will be displayed. Vulnerability details are also displayed as part of the tooltip and include the vulnerability identifier (e.g., CVE), severity, and a fix suggestion if available. A Details link is displayed which leads to the WhiteSource Vulnerability Database, providing more information on the specific vulnerability.

  • To quickly display an analysis summary for a component in the pom.xml or build.gradle view, hover the mouse pointer over the code for the component in that view; a tooltip will be displayed, featuring a list of all vulnerabilities found within the particular component.

Viewing General Plugin Information 

To view version information about WhiteSource Advise, do as follows:

  • From the sidebar on the right, click WhiteSource (if you do not see the sidebar, select View >Tool Windows > WhiteSource). The Welcome screen is displayed.

  • From the Welcome screen, click About. 

The About screen displays information about the Advise plugin's version, general information on your IDE, along with links for Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.

Generating Debug Logs for WhiteSource Support

To generate debug logs, do as follows:

  1. From the menubar, click Help. A menu is displayed.

  2. Select Diagnostic Tools > Debug Log Settings. The Custom Debug Log Configuration dialog box is displayed.

  3. Enter this text: #org.whitesource.intellij.plugin

  4. Click OK.

Debug logs will now be generated for the integration.

Upgrading WhiteSource Advise 

To upgrade the WhiteSource Advise plugin, do as follows:

  1. From the menu bar, select File > Settings > Plugins. Ensure that you are in the Installed tab. A list of installed plugins is displayed.

  2. In the Downloaded section, search for WhiteSource Advise, and on the right-hand side, click Update.
    NOTE: If there is no new version, the Update button will not appear, and there is no need to continue this procedure. 

  3. Select WhiteSource Advise.

  4. If you are prompted to restart, do so.

Uninstalling WhiteSource Advise

To uninstall the plugin, do as follows: 

  1. From the menu bar, select File > Settings > Plugins. Ensure that you are in the Installed tab. A list of installed plugins is displayed. 

  2. In the Downloaded section, search for WhiteSource Advise and click it. The WhiteSource Advise plugin page is displayed.

  3. On the right-hand side, click the drop-down box, and then click Uninstall. The Plugin Uninstall dialog box is displayed. 

  4. Click Yes to confirm.

  5. If you are prompted to restart, do so.

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