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About Dependabot alerts

GitHub Enterprise Cloud sends Dependabot alerts when we detect that your repository uses a vulnerable dependency.

Who can use this feature?

Dependabot alerts are free to use for all repositories on Advanced capabilities, like reachability analysis and the ability to create custom auto-triage rules, are available on any organization-owned repositories, when you have a license for GitHub Advanced Security.

Dependabot alerts tell you when your code depends on a package that is insecure. Often, software is built using open-source code packages from a large variety of sources. The complex relationships between these dependencies, and the ease with which malicious actors can insert malware into upstream code, mean that you may unknowingly be using dependencies that have security flaws, also known as vulnerabilities.

If your code depends on a package with a security vulnerability, this can cause a range of problems for your project or the people who use it. Using a vulnerable package makes you a soft target for malicious users looking to exploit your system. For example, they may seek to get access to your code and data from your customers or contributors. You should upgrade to a secure version of the package as soon as possible. If your code uses malware, you need to replace the package with a secure alternative.

Dependabot doesn't generate Dependabot alerts for malware. For more information, see "About the GitHub Advisory database."

For an overview of the different features offered by Dependabot and instructions on how to get started, see "Dependabot quickstart guide."

Detection of insecure dependencies

Dependabot performs a scan of the default branch of your repository to detect insecure dependencies, and sends Dependabot alerts when:

  • A new advisory is added to the GitHub Advisory Database. For more information, see "Browsing security advisories in the GitHub Advisory Database."

    Note: Only advisories that have been reviewed by GitHub will trigger Dependabot alerts.

  • The dependency graph for a repository changes. For example, when a contributor pushes a commit to change the packages or versions it depends on, or when the code of one of the dependencies changes. For more information, see "About the dependency graph."

Note: Dependabot doesn't scan archived repositories.

Additionally, GitHub can review any dependencies added, updated, or removed in a pull request made against the default branch of a repository, and flag any changes that would reduce the security of your project. This allows you to spot and deal with vulnerable dependencies before, rather than after, they reach your codebase. For more information, see "Reviewing dependency changes in a pull request."

As Dependabot alerts rely on the dependency graph, the ecosystems that are supported by Dependabot alerts are the same as those supported by the dependency graph. For a list of these ecosystems, see "About the dependency graph."

Note: It is important to keep your manifest and lock files up to date. If the dependency graph doesn't accurately reflect your current dependencies and versions, then you could miss alerts for insecure dependencies that you use. You may also get alerts for dependencies that you no longer use.

Dependabot will only create Dependabot alerts for vulnerable GitHub Actions that use semantic versioning. You will not receive alerts for a vulnerable action that uses SHA versioning. If you use GitHub Actions with SHA versioning, we recommend enabling Dependabot version updates for your repository or organization to keep the actions you use updated to the latest versions.

Configuration of Dependabot alerts

GitHub detects vulnerable dependencies in public repositories and displays the dependency graph, but does not generate Dependabot alerts by default. Repository owners or people with admin access can enable Dependabot alerts for public repositories. Owners of private repositories, or people with admin access, can enable Dependabot alerts by enabling the dependency graph and Dependabot alerts for their repositories.

You can also enable or disable Dependabot alerts for all repositories owned by your user account or organization. For more information, see "Configuring Dependabot alerts."

For information about access requirements for actions related to Dependabot alerts, see "Repository roles for an organization."

GitHub Enterprise Cloud starts generating the dependency graph immediately and generates alerts for any insecure dependencies as soon as they are identified. The graph is usually populated within minutes but this may take longer for repositories with many dependencies. For more information, see "Managing security and analysis settings for your repository."

When GitHub Enterprise Cloud identifies a vulnerable dependency, we generate a Dependabot alert and display it on the Security tab for the repository and in the repository's dependency graph. The alert includes a link to the affected file in the project, and information about a fixed version.

GitHub Enterprise Cloud may also notify the maintainers of affected repositories about new alerts according to their notification preferences. When Dependabot is first enabled, GitHub Enterprise Cloud does not send notifications for all vulnerable dependencies found in your repository, only for new vulnerable dependencies identified after Dependabot is enabled. For more information, see "Configuring notifications for Dependabot alerts."

If you have enabled Dependabot security updates for your repository, the alert may also contain a link to a pull request to update the manifest or lock file to the minimum version that resolves the vulnerability. For more information, see "About Dependabot security updates."

Additionally, you can use Dependabot auto-triage rules to manage your alerts at scale, so you can auto-dismiss or snooze alerts, and specify which alerts you want Dependabot to open pull requests for. For information about the different types of auto-triage rules, and whether your repositories are eligible, see "About Dependabot auto-triage rules."

Note: GitHub Enterprise Cloud's security features do not claim to catch all vulnerabilities. We actively maintain GitHub Advisory Database and generate alerts with the most up-to-date information. However, we cannot catch everything or tell you about known vulnerabilities within a guaranteed time frame. These features are not substitutes for human review of each dependency for potential vulnerabilities or any other issues, and we recommend consulting with a security service or conducting a thorough dependency review when necessary.

Access to Dependabot alerts

You can see all of the alerts that affect a particular project on the repository's Security tab or in the repository's dependency graph. For more information, see "Viewing and updating Dependabot alerts."

By default, we notify people with write, maintain, or admin permissions in the affected repositories about new Dependabot alerts. GitHub Enterprise Cloud never publicly discloses insecure dependencies for any repository. You can also make Dependabot alerts visible to additional people or teams working with repositories that you own or have admin permissions for. For more information, see "Managing security and analysis settings for your repository."

To receive notifications about Dependabot alerts on repositories, you need to watch these repositories, and subscribe to receive "All Activity" notifications or configure custom settings to include "Security alerts." For more information, see "Configuring notifications." You can choose the delivery method for notifications, as well as the frequency at which the notifications are sent to you. For more information, see "Configuring notifications for Dependabot alerts."

You can also see all the Dependabot alerts that correspond to a particular advisory in the GitHub Advisory Database. For more information, see "Browsing security advisories in the GitHub Advisory Database."

Further reading