Skip to main content

About secret scanning

GitHub Enterprise Cloud scans repositories for known types of secrets, to prevent fraudulent use of secrets that were committed accidentally.

Secret scanning for partner patterns is automatically run on all public repositories. If you have a license for GitHub Advanced Security, you can enable and configure secret scanning for advanced security for any repository owned by an organization. For more information, see "GitHub's products."

About secret scanning

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, even if the repository is archived.

Secret scanning is available on GitHub.com in two forms:

  1. Secret scanning for partner patterns. 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.

  2. Secret scanning for advanced security. You can enable and configure additional scanning for repositories owned by organizations that use GitHub Enterprise Cloud and have a license for GitHub Advanced Security. Any strings that match patterns provided by secret scanning partners, by other service providers, or defined by 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.

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."

You can also enable secret scanning as a push protection for a repository or an organization. When you enable this feature, secret scanning prevents contributors from pushing code with a detected secret. To proceed, contributors must either remove the secret(s) from the push or, if needed, bypass the protection. For more information, see "Protecting pushes with secret scanning."

About secret scanning for partner patterns

When you make a repository public, or push changes to a public repository, GitHub Enterprise Cloud 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 patterns."

You cannot change the configuration of secret scanning on public repositories.

About secret scanning for advanced security

Secret scanning for advanced security is available on all organization-owned repositories as part of GitHub Advanced Security. It is not available on user-owned repositories. When you enable secret scanning for a repository, GitHub scans the code for patterns that match secrets used by many service providers. For more information, see "Supported secrets for advanced security."

If you're a repository administrator you can enable secret scanning for advanced security for any repository, including archived repositories. Organization owners can also enable secret scanning for advanced security 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."

You can also define custom secret scanning patterns for a repository, organization, or enterprise. For more information, see "Defining custom patterns for secret scanning."

About secret scanning alerts

When you 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 and any custom patterns defined in your enterprise, organization, or repository.

If secret scanning detects a secret, GitHub generates an alert.

  • GitHub sends an email alert to the repository administrators and organization owners.

  • GitHub sends an email alert to the contributor who committed the secret to the repository, with 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 use the security overview to see an organization-level view of which repositories have enabled secret scanning and the alerts found. For more information, see "Viewing the security overview." You can also use the REST API to monitor results from secret scanning across your private repositories. For more information about API endpoints, see "Secret scanning."

Further reading