Is Github Really Secure for Private Projects?

Of course, if you’re a GitHub account user, security and privacy convictions will be top on your priority list. If this is truly your concern, you will find a couple of GitHub security features shared in this post handy. Here you will also be exposed to ways your data in GitHub may be leaked or taken advantage of by hackers.

GitHub hosts public and private repositories which enable remote developers and users to share their uploaded source codes with other developers. GitHub like other cloud services is prone to data leaks that may come from your end or shortcomings in design. Learn how to set up your GitHub security and privacy features in this post and gain stronger control of your data. 

What are Some Security features that Make my Github Repository Safer?

GitHub has built-in tools for safety and security. However, this security framework is not hack-proof especially when it comes to human error. Here are some of the features of GitHub Security and Privacy.

  1. Code Scanning: Code scanning is a feature that scans software automatically when it’s uploaded to a repository. It notifies enterprises about potential security flaws in the code uploaded. As a user, this means you can now lookout for potential security flaws and coding errors in their code. This is important, as it helps prevent cases of credential leakage.

  2. Secret Scanning: Launched in 2018, secret scanning was previously known as token scanning. It has also been available to all public repositories since then. This security feature was later modified to accommodate private repositories too.

Secret scanning spots and picks up access credentials such as tokens and keys that have been uploaded into the repository. It also searches for other kinds of confidential data and file formats. The primary function of the secret scanning tool is preventing incidents like the accidental leak of customer credentials. It is also helpful in preventing exposure to private encryption keys.

  1. Security Policy: Automated scanning is not formidable enough to confer your GitHub repository the safety it needs. Security policy provides users an avenue to not only contribute to other projects, but the report found vulnerabilities. 
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Reporting security issues can be facilitated through a file provided in the repository’s root, docs, or GitHub folders. With this guide, you can see ways you can report vulnerabilities. It also ensures security vulnerabilities aren’t disclosed in the public issue tracker which leaves them exploitable. 

How Can my GitHub Repository be Hacked?

There have been several reported cases of GitHub repository hacks like that of 2019 where hackers wiped Git repositories. This is one of the many popular vulnerability scandals that have left many users wondering if Git is safe from hacking. Let’s consider some of the shortfalls that hackers or malicious users take advantage of.

Insecure Directories

This is one popular means hackers use to illegally obtain companies’ data. They commonly use URLs containing the Git directory to access the metadata within a Git repository. This is dangerous because metadata oftentimes contains user login details or customer data information. 

If hackers get hold of this sensitive information they can use it to plan an attack. A lot of Github security breaches occur as a result of hackers stealing passwords. Do you care about the security of your Github repository? All you have to do is simply adopt stronger security features or practices like the use of 2-factor authentication. 

Capitalizing on Git Vulnerabilities

There are a few Git vulnerabilities that expose repositories to hackers. Take for instance CVE-2018-11235, a popular Git vulnerability that allows for remote code execution. This especially happens when a user is running a malicious repository.

CVE-2018-11235 can be exploited by hackers to set up a malformed Git repository containing a target Git submodule. All the malicious user needs to do is deceive victims into cloning the malicious repository to execute arbitrary codes.

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Self-hosted Git Servers

Self-hosted Git servers can create huge security situations. The downside of it is that it confers on you a serious burden of securing the Git server. Lots of attackers prey on the mistakes and ignorance of people who don’t do it properly to launch attacks.

You also have to go through the stress of conducting regular backups to ensure your data is protected. This is especially important in cases where you experience an attack.

How Do I Set up Security in my Github Repository?

You can manage the security and analysis feature of your private repositories. Organizations that use Github Enterprise Cloud with Advanced security are open to more options. Enabling security and analysis feature allows GitHub to carry out read-only analysis on your repository. 

But to get this done, you first have to understand how to set up your security settings on GitHub. It’s quite easy, just follow the guide provided here.

  1. Go to and navigate to the main page of the repository. 
  2. When you have located the repository name, click Settings
  1. Go to the left sidebar and click Security and Analysis 
  1. Under Configure security and analysis feature, locate the icon on the right that reads enable or disable. Click on it.

How Do I Set up Security alerts on a GitHub Repository?

You must set up a notification on your GitHub. This is because it alerts you of any security situation on the repository. However, alerts for a repository are only visible to users with admin access. In cases where the repository is owned by organizations, it’s visible to the organization owners. 

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This does not mean you can’t grant more people access to the GitHub security alert, but you have to understand how to set it up first. Follow the steps carefully. 

  1. Go to and navigate to the repository’s main page.
  2. Under the name of the repository, click Settings
  1. On the left side of the bar, click Security & analysis.
  1. You will find a command that says “access to alerts” in the search field. Search for the names of the person you want to find. Choose a name in the list of matches provided.
  1. Click Save changes. 


Regardless of a data location in the cloud or on-premise, it is susceptible to inadvertent deletion, malware, and other security threats. As a cloud-based service, Github is not hack-proof or immune to other kinds of threats. The responsibility of securing your data is both shared by you and your cloud provider. Hence, you need to be aware of your security roles.

This is why this post contains efficient information needed to handle security threats on your Github repository. It provides you with several ways your data can be breached or exposed to malicious users. With the information on security setup, you’re also informed on how to manage your GitHub data space more diligently.

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