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.
You can audit the actions taken in response to secret scanning alerts using GitHub tools. For more information, see "Auditing security alerts."
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 "Push protection for repositories and organizations."
Note: When you fork a repository with secret scanning or push protection enabled, these features are not enabled by default on the fork. You can enable secret scanning or push protection on the fork the same way you enable them on a standalone repository.
Secret scanning is available on all organization-owned repositories as part of GitHub Advanced Security. The feature 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.
When a supported secret is leaked, GitHub AE generates a secret scanning alert. For more information, see "Secret scanning patterns."
If you're a repository administrator, you can enable secret scanning for any repository, including archived repositories. Organization owners can also enable secret scanning 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."
When you enable secret scanning for a repository or push commits to a repository with secret scanning enabled, GitHub scans the contents 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 in a commit, 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 person who introduced the secret in the commit isn't ignoring the repository, GitHub will also send them an email alert. The emails contains a link to the related secret scanning alert. The person who introduced the secret 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 security overview to see an organization-level view of which repositories have enabled secret scanning and the alerts found. For more information, see "About security overview."
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."