A cybersecurity startup is warning of a major, unattended weak link in the software supply chain: the vexing problem of valuable corporate secrets — API keys, usernames and passwords, and security certificates — publicly exposed in corporate repositories.
The compromise of leaked secrets has been at the center of multiple supply-chain security compromises but, according to new data from GitGuardian, secrets sprawl exists everywhere and is growing at alarming rates.
In a new report documenting its work looking for leaked corporate secrets, GitGuardian found that a typical company with 400 developers would discover about 1,050 unique secrets leaking throughout its repositories and commits.
Even worse, at current security-to-developer staffing levels, the company argues “there’s simply no way to manage the explosion of digital authentication credentials left exposed in modern code.”
“With each secret detected in 13 different places on average, the amount of work required for remediation far exceeds current AppSec capabilities: with a security-to-developers ratio of 1:100*, 1 AppSec engineer needs to handle 3,413 secrets occurrences on average,” GitGuardian said.
The Paris, France-based startup, which raised $44 million in venture capital investment to work on solving the secrets sprawl problem, said this is an ongoing “nightmare” for security engineers.
“Credentials are a nightmare for security engineers because they can end up in so many places: build, monitoring, or runtime logs, stack traces, and … git history. Our data show the extent of publicly exposed secrets on GitHub has more than doubled since 2020,” GitGuardian said.
After running scans in 2021, the company found more than 6 million secrets exposed, including IAM credentials across all major public cloud infrastructure. “On average, 3 commits out of 1,000 exposed at least one secret, a 50% increase compared to 2020.”
In addition to GitHub, GitGuardian’s report also called attention to sensitive information exposed in Docker Hub images.
“The layers making up Docker images are as many additional attack surfaces that can too easily be left out of the security perimeter. For attackers, it is yet another chance of finding an access vector, just as demonstrated by the Codecov breach,” the company said, referencing the April 2021 supply chain compromise that rattled much of Silicon Valley.
“If there is a single conclusion to be drawn from [this data], it is that the amount of work required for both remediating real-time incidents and investigating leaks detected in the git history (which can still represent a threat) far exceeds current AppSec teams’ capabilities,” the company warned.