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  • 21 August 2019 14:39

GitHub Token Scanning—one billion tokens identified and five new partners

If you’ve ever accidentally shared a token or credentials in a GitHub repository, or read about someone who has, you know how damaging it could be if a malicious user finds and exploits it. About a year ago, we introduced token scanning to help scan pushed commits and prevent fraudulent use of any credentials that are shared accidentally. Since adding token scanning, we’ve sent our integration partners one billion tokens for validation.*

Five new token scanning partners

As part of GitHub’s commitment to protecting our customers from security threats, we’re happy to announce that we’ve partnered with Atlassian, Dropbox, Discord, Proctorio, and Pulumi to scan for their token formats. They’re in good company, joining other service providers including Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Mailgun, npm, Slack, Stripe, and Twilio in protecting developers. Now if you accidentally check in a token for products like Jira or Discord, the provider gets notified about a potential match within seconds of check-in, allowing them to revoke the token before it’s used maliciously.

How does token scanning work?

On a typical day, we see almost nine million commits pushed to GitHub. Within seconds of those commits being pushed (or private repositories being made public), we scan the contents for a number of known token formats. When we detect a match, we’ll notify the appropriate service provider and they’ll respond accordingly—revoking the tokens and notifying the affected users.

Here’s an example of how one user was notified about a Discord token that was accidentally submitted to a public repository: https://www.reddit.com/r/discordapp/comments/cm4aev/so_discord_now_resets_your_token_if_you_post_it/

Service providers—help us prevent security breaches before they happen

If you’re a cloud or API service provider using tokens for authentication and authorization and would like to protect your users from these rare, but potentially devastating scenarios, we’d love to work with you.

It’s as simple as a bit of paperwork, defining some regular expression to match your token format(s), and setting up an API endpoint.

Learn more about becoming a GitHub token scanning partner: https://developer.github.com/partnerships/token-scanning/

* “Tokens for validation” represents the number of tokens we’ve sent to our token scanning partners for potential matches and thus may include false positives. GitHub notifies the appropriate service provider to respond accordingly—revoking the tokens and notifying the affected users—but we do not receive data on the number of validated tokens from partners.

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