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Configuring code scanning for a repository

You can configure code scanning for a repository to find security vulnerabilities in your code.

Who can use this feature

If you have write permissions to a repository, you can configure code scanning for that repository.

Code scanning is available for all public repositories on GitHub.com. Code scanning is also available for private repositories owned by organizations that use GitHub Enterprise Cloud and have a license for GitHub Advanced Security. For more information, see "About GitHub Advanced Security."

Options for configuring code scanning

You decide how to generate code scanning alerts, and which tools to use, at a repository level. GitHub provides fully integrated support for CodeQL analysis, and also supports analysis using third-party tools. For more information, see the following bullets and "About code scanning."

If you run code scanning using multiple configurations, then sometimes an alert will have multiple analysis origins. If an alert has multiple analysis origins, you can view the status of the alert for each analysis origin on the alert page. For more information, see "About analysis origins."

Configuring code scanning automatically

The default setup for code scanning will automatically configure code scanning with the best settings for your repository. Your repository is eligible for default setup if it uses GitHub Actions and contains only the following CodeQL-supported languages: JavaScript/TypeScript, Python, or Ruby. While you can use default setup if your repository includes languages that aren't supported by CodeQL, such as R, you must use the advanced setup if you include CodeQL-supported languages other than those previously listed. For more information on CodeQL-supported languages, see "About code scanning with CodeQL."

Enabling default setup is the quickest way to configure code scanning for your repository. Additionally, default setup requires none of the maintenance necessary with a CodeQL workflow file. Before you enable default setup, you'll see the languages it will analyze, the query suites it will run, and the events that will trigger a new scan.

Try default setup if you don't need to run extra queries, change the scan schedule, or scan a language that is currently unsupported by default setup.

  1. On GitHub.com, navigate to the main page of the repository.

  2. Under your repository name, click Settings. Repository settings button

  3. In the "Security" section of the sidebar, click Code security and analysis.

  4. In the "Code scanning" section, select Set up , then click Default.

    Screenshot of the "Code scanning" section with emphasis on the "Default" setup option

  5. In the CodeQL default configuration window that is displayed, review the settings for your repository, then click Enable CodeQL.

    Screenshot of the "CodeQL default configuration" pop-up window with emphasis on the "Enable CodeQL" button

    Notes:

    • The CodeQL default configuration window displays the details of the default setup, including the languages to analyze, the query suites to run, and the events that trigger a new scan. If you would like to change which query suites will run, what events will trigger a new scan, or other code scanning features, you need to use the advanced setup. For more information, see "Creating an advanced setup."
    • If you are switching to the default setup from the advanced setup, you will see a warning informing you that the default setup will override existing configurations. Once you have enabled CodeQL, be sure to delete or disable your existing workflow file. Otherwise, the workflow will continue to run regularly without uploading any code scanning results, using your GitHub Actions minutes.
    • If you would like to see your default CodeQL setup after configuration, select , then click View CodeQL configuration.

Creating an advanced setup

The advanced setup for code scanning is helpful when you need to customize your code scanning. By creating and editing a workflow file, you can choose which queries to run, change the scan schedule, scan any CodeQL-supported language, use a matrix build, and more.

Configuring code scanning using starter workflows

Note: Starter workflows for Advanced Security have been consolidated in a "Security" category in the Actions tab of a repository. This new configuration is currently in beta and subject to change.

GitHub provides starter workflows for security features such as code scanning. You can use these suggested workflows to construct your code scanning workflows, instead of starting from scratch. Code scanning starter workflows are only available for your repository if code scanning is enabled.

Using actions to run code scanning will use minutes. For more information, see "About billing for GitHub Actions."

  1. On GitHub.com, navigate to the main page of the repository.
  2. Under your repository name, click Actions. Actions tab in the main repository navigation
  3. If the repository has already at least one workflow configured and running, click New workflow and go to step 5. If there are currently no workflows configured for the repository, go to the next step. Screenshot of the New workflow button
  4. Scroll down to the "Security" category and click Configure under the workflow you want to configure, or click View all to see all available security workflows. Screenshot of the Actions workflows security section
  5. On the right pane of the workflow page, click Documentation and follow the on-screen instructions to tailor the workflow to your needs. Screenshot of the Documentation tab for starter workflows For more information, see "Using starter workflows" and "Customizing code scanning."

Configuring code scanning manually

You can customize your code scanning by creating and editing a workflow file. The advanced setup generates a basic workflow file for you to customize.

Using actions to run code scanning will use minutes. For more information, see "About billing for GitHub Actions."

Note: You can configure code scanning for any public repository where you have write access.

  1. On GitHub.com, navigate to the main page of the repository.

  2. Under your repository name, click Settings. Repository settings button

  3. In the "Security" section of the sidebar, click Code security and analysis.

  4. In the "Code scanning" section, select Set up , then click Advanced.

    Note: If you are switching to the advanced code scanning setup from the default setup, in the "Code scanning" section, select , then click Switch to advanced. In the pop-up window that appears, click Disable CodeQL.

    Screenshot of the "Code scanning" section with emphasis on the "Advanced" setup option

  5. To customize how code scanning scans your code, edit the workflow.

    Generally, you can commit the CodeQL analysis workflow without making any changes to it. However, many of the third-party workflows require additional configuration, so read the comments in the workflow before committing.

    For more information, see "Customizing code scanning."

  6. Use the Start commit drop-down, and type a commit message. Start commit

  7. Choose whether you'd like to commit directly to the default branch, or create a new branch and start a pull request. Choose where to commit

  8. Click Commit new file or Propose new file.

In the suggested CodeQL analysis workflow, code scanning is configured to analyze your code each time you either push a change to the default branch or any protected branches, or raise a pull request against the default branch. As a result, code scanning will now commence.

The on:pull_request and on:push triggers for code scanning are each useful for different purposes. For more information, see "Customizing code scanning."

Bulk configuration of code scanning

You can configure code scanning in many repositories at once using a script. If you'd like to use a script to raise pull requests that add a GitHub Actions workflow to multiple repositories, see the jhutchings1/Create-ActionsPRs repository for an example using PowerShell, or nickliffen/ghas-enablement for teams who do not have PowerShell and instead would like to use NodeJS.

Viewing the logging output from code scanning

After configuring code scanning for your repository, you can watch the output of the actions as they run.

  1. Under your repository name, click Actions. Actions tab in the main repository navigation

    You'll see a list that includes an entry for running the code scanning workflow. The text of the entry is the title you gave your commit message.

    Actions list showing code scanning workflow

  2. Click the entry for the code scanning workflow.

  3. Click the job name on the left. For example, Analyze (LANGUAGE).

    Log output from the code scanning workflow

  4. Review the logging output from the actions in this workflow as they run.

  5. Once all jobs are complete, you can view the details of any code scanning alerts that were identified. For more information, see "Managing code scanning alerts for your repository."

Note: If you raised a pull request to add the code scanning workflow to the repository, alerts from that pull request aren't displayed directly on the Code scanning page until the pull request is merged. If any alerts were found you can view these, before the pull request is merged, by clicking the NUMBER alerts found link in the banner on the Code scanning page.

Click the "n alerts found" link

Understanding the pull request checks

Each code scanning workflow you set to run on pull requests always has at least two entries listed in the checks section of a pull request. There is one entry for each of the analysis jobs in the workflow, and a final one for the results of the analysis.

The names of the code scanning analysis checks take the form: "TOOL NAME / JOB NAME (TRIGGER)." For example, for CodeQL, analysis of C++ code has the entry "CodeQL / Analyze (cpp) (pull_request)." You can click Details on a code scanning analysis entry to see logging data. This allows you to debug a problem if the analysis job failed. For example, for code scanning analysis of compiled languages, this can happen if the action can't build the code.

code scanning pull request checks

When the code scanning jobs complete, GitHub works out whether any alerts were added by the pull request and adds the "Code scanning results / TOOL NAME" entry to the list of checks. After code scanning has been performed at least once, you can click Details to view the results of the analysis.

Next steps

After configuring code scanning, and allowing its actions to complete, you can: