Security Experts:

GitHub Warns Developers When Using Vulnerable Libraries

Code hosting service GitHub now warns developers if certain software libraries used by their projects contain any known vulnerabilities and provides advice on how to address the issue.

GitHub recently introduced the Dependency Graph, a feature in the Insights section that lists the libraries used by a project. The feature currently supports JavaScript and Ruby, and the company plans on adding support for Python next year.

The new security feature added by GitHub is designed to alert developers when one of their project’s dependencies has known flaws. The Dependency graph and the security alerts feature have been automatically enabled for public repositories, but they are opt-in for private repositories.

When a vulnerable library is detected, a “Known security vulnerability” alert will be displayed next to it in the Dependency graph. Administrators can also configure email alerts, web notifications, and warnings via the user interface, and they can add the teams or individuals who should see the alerts.

GitHub identifies vulnerable projects by tracking flaws in Ruby gems and NPM packages on MITRE’s Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list. When a new flaw is added, the company identifies all repositories that use the affected version and informs their owners.

The information provided to administrators includes the type of flaw, its severity, and affected versions. There is also a link that points to a page where additional details are available.

If a patch exists for the vulnerability, GitHub advises developers to update or uses machine learning to suggest a fix provided by the community.

GitHub currently tracks vulnerabilities that have been assigned a CVE identifier, but since many publicly disclosed flaws don’t have CVEs, the company will also try to warn users of issues that don’t have one. “We'll continue to get better at identifying vulnerabilities as our security data grows,” GitHub said.

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.