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GitHub Announces New Security Improvements

GitHub this week introduced NPM package provenance and deployment protection rules and announced general availability of private vulnerability reporting.

Microsoft-owned code hosting platform GitHub this week introduced NPM package provenance and deployment protection rules and announced the general availability of private vulnerability reporting.

Following a beta launch in November 2022, GitHub has now made private vulnerability reporting generally available, providing security researchers with a direct channel to report security defects they identify in public repositories.

To take advantage of the new capability, repository maintainers need to enable it in the ‘Security’ section of their repository’s ‘Settings’.

Once private vulnerability reporting has been enabled, security researchers can send bug reports to the maintainers, who can request for additional information and avoid being contacted publicly.

Now that the capability is generally available, maintainers can enable it at scale, for all repositories in their organization, they can select how to credit the reporters, and benefit from new integration and automation workflows, through a new repository security advisories API.

Starting this week, developers building NPM projects on GitHub Actions can publish package provenance, to provide users with information on source repositories and the build instructions used to publish it. GitHub will also collect this information.

Following an increase in software supply chain attacks where attackers compromise dependencies to inject malicious code into packages, the goal of NPM package provenance is to increase trust in the ecosystem, by providing visibility into how the code was translated into the published artifact.

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“Our goal for the npm ecosystem is to bring the same level of transparency we have with the open source code itself to the process by which that code is built and published,” GitHub says.

To create a verifiable signature over the provenance statement, GitHub is requiring that packages are built using a trusted CI/CD platform. Furthermore, the provenance attestation is uploaded to Sigstore’s Rekor service, to offer visibility into tampering attempts.

“This provides visibility to the specific commit which triggered the build and the instructions which were used to publish the final artifact. With that information we increase the auditability of the build and make any attempt to tamper with the code much more visible,” the code hosting platform explains.

The third GitHub capability introduced this week is the public beta of deployment protection rules, which allows GitHub Enterprise Cloud (GHEC) users to employ the management mechanisms they need to ensure their applications are secure.

The rules bring additional controls to GitHub Actions CI/CD workflows, such as enforcing quality gates on deployments and allow GHEC users to create their own controls and even share them in the form of an application published to the GitHub marketplace.

A set of rules is already available to GHEC customers from several GitHub partners, including Datadog, Honeycomb, New Relic, NodeSource, Sentry, and ServiceNow.

Related: GitHub Secret Scanning Now Generally Available

Related: GitHub Introduces Automatic Vulnerability Scanning Feature

Related: GitHub Introduces Private Vulnerability Reporting for Public Repositories

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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