If your project communicates with an external service, you might use a token or private key for authentication. Tokens and private keys are examples of secrets that a service provider can issue. If you check a secret into a repository, anyone who has read access to the repository can use the secret to access the external service with your privileges. We recommend that you store secrets in a dedicated, secure location outside of the repository for your project.
Secret scanning will scan your entire Git history on all branches present in your GitHub repository for secrets.
Secret scanning is available on GitHub.com in two forms:
Secret scanning alerts for partners. Runs automatically on all public repositories. Any strings that match patterns that were provided by secret scanning partners are reported directly to the relevant partner. For more information, see the "About secret scanning alerts for partners" section below.
Secret scanning alerts for users. The following users can enable and configure additional scanning:
- Owners of repositories on GitHub.com, on any public repositories they own.
- Organizations owning public repositories, on any of these repositories.
- Organizations using GitHub Enterprise Cloud with a license for GitHub Advanced Security, on repositories owned by the organization, including private and internal repositories.
Note: The secret scanning alerts for users feature is available as a beta for users on GitHub Free, GitHub Pro, or GitHub Team plans and is subject to change.
Any strings that match patterns provided by secret scanning partners, by other service providers, or defined by you or your organization, are reported as alerts in the Security tab of repositories. If a string in a public repository matches a partner pattern, it is also reported to the partner. For more information, see the "About secret scanning alerts for users" section below.
Service providers can partner with GitHub to provide their secret formats for scanning. To find out about our partner program, see "Secret scanning partner program."
When you make a repository public, or push changes to a public repository, GitHub always scans the code for secrets that match partner patterns. If secret scanning detects a potential secret, we notify the service provider who issued the secret. The service provider validates the string and then decides whether they should revoke the secret, issue a new secret, or contact you directly. Their action will depend on the associated risks to you or them. For more information, see "Supported secrets for partner alerts."
You cannot change the configuration of secret scanning for partner patterns on public repositories.
Secret scanning alerts for users are available for all public repositories. When you enable secret scanning for a repository, GitHub scans the code for patterns that match secrets used by many service providers. When a supported secret is leaked, GitHub generates a secret scanning alert. For more information, see "Supported secrets for user alerts."
If you're a repository administrator, you can enable secret scanning alerts for users for any public repository. Organization owners can also enable secret scanning alerts for users for all repositories or for all new repositories within an organization. For more information, see "Managing security and analysis settings for your repository" and "Managing security and analysis settings for your organization."
GitHub stores detected secrets using symmetric encryption, both in transit and at rest.
When you enable secret scanning for a repository or push commits to a repository with secret scanning enabled, GitHub scans the contents of those commits for secrets that match patterns defined by service providers.
If secret scanning detects a secret, GitHub generates an alert.
- GitHub sends an email alert to the repository administrators and organization owners. You'll receive an alert if you are watching the repository, and if you have enabled notifications either for security alerts or for all the activity on the repository.
- If the contributor who committed the secret isn't ignoring the repository, GitHub will also send an email alert to the contributor. The emails contains a link to the related secret scanning alert. The commit author can then view the alert in the repository, and resolve the alert.
- GitHub displays an alert in the Security tab of the repository.
For more information about viewing and resolving secret scanning alerts, see "Managing alerts from secret scanning."
Repository administrators and organization owners can grant users and teams access to secret scanning alerts. For more information, see "Managing security and analysis settings for your repository."
You can also use the REST API to monitor results from secret scanning across your repositories. For more information about API endpoints, see "Secret scanning."