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GitHub Security: Detecting and Addressing Vulnerabilities for Safer Repositories

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This article talks about the security features offered by the GitHub. Discusses what are vulnerabilities and their types. Also, talk about methods of addressing and detecting those vulnerabilities.

Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

GitHub Security is a system that detects and addresses vulnerabilities in GitHub repositories for safer development practices.

GitHub scans code repositories for potential security issues and common coding errors. This is done through advanced vulnerability detection. With such features, GitHub runs on best practices and can meet all the security requirements and maintain regularity. These security features ensure the smooth workflow and integrity of projects. It also reduces the risk of security incidents.

Let us explore the methods and technology used for detecting and addressing safer repositories in GitHub.

Understanding GitHub Advanced Security (GHAS)

GitHub Advanced Security (GHAS) is a security system offered by GitHub. It provides developers and organizations with vulnerability detection tools to identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities in their software projects.

GHAS includes code scanning capabilities that analyze code for common security issues, secret scanning to identify leaked credentials, and dependency graph analysis to detect vulnerabilities in project dependencies. It also offers security alerts and notifications, as well as security policies and compliance features.

GHAS aims to enhance the overall security of software development workflows and help developers build more secure applications.

Key Features of GitHub Advanced Security

There are some key features of GitHub’s advanced security, making it more secure than ever. Some of those key features are given below:

1. Code Scanning

Analyzes code for vulnerabilities and coding errors using CodeQL or third-party tools. This is a core feature of GHAS and requires a paid license for private repositories.

2. Secret Scanning

Detects secrets like API keys and passwords accidentally committed to your codebase. This is another key feature of GHAS requiring a paid license.

3. Dependency Graph

Visualizes the relationships between your project and its dependencies. This is a free feature available on all GitHub plans.

4. Dependabot

Identifies security vulnerabilities in your project’s dependencies and sends alerts. This is a free feature with some limitations in the free plan.

Different Types of Vulnerability

1. Injection Vulnerabilities:

Injection vulnerabilities is a type of issue when an attacker injects malware into a system. Most common injection vulnerabilities include SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) etc.

This type of vulnerability can create problems in your repository. This code is executed by the system, which creates an attacker to have control of it.

Example: An attacker inserts malicious SQL code forcefully into a form field that is used to query a database.

2. Broken Authentication and Authorization:

When a system’s authentication or authorization mechanisms are flawed, then this type of vulnerability is known as broken authentication and authorization.

These types of vulnerabilities allow attackers to have access to a system or data so that they infect your system.

Example: When you have very weak and easily cracked passwords, then an attacker is able to easily access your system. These techniques may include brute-force attacks, dictionary attacks, etc.

3. Security Misconfiguration:

Security misconfiguration vulnerabilities occur due to various factors, including systems having many unnecessary services for configuration. And when these services are enabled, it can make the system less secure. Also, when the system is not configured securely, these types of vulnerabilities occur.

Such as default settings that are not secure, or outdated software that has not been patched.

Example: A security misconfiguration vulnerability is a web server that is running with unnecessary services enabled.

4. Insecure Direct Object References:

Insecure direct object reference vulnerabilities occur when a system exposes a direct reference to an object, such as a file or a database record.

This can allow attackers to access or modify the object without going through the proper authorization channels.

Example: An insecure direct object reference vulnerability is a web application that allows attackers to guess the names of files and then access them directly.

5. Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF):

​​Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) issue that occurs when an attacker makes a faked HTTP request to a vulnerable web application.

This will allow an attacker to gain access to your application and can perform unauthorized actions.

Example: A CSRF(Cross-site request forgery) vulnerability is a link that sends a request to a web application, if the victim clicks the links then the attacker will transfer money from the victim’s account to the attacker’s account.

6. Use of Known Vulnerable Components:

When a system uses a component that is known to have security vulnerabilities, then the attacker will use such a component and insert vulnerabilities. This vulnerability is also known as a component vulnerability.

The components become insecure due to a number of factors, such as:

  • Outdated software that has not been patched
  • Third-party libraries that have security vulnerabilities.

Example: A use of known vulnerable components is a web application that uses a library that has a known SQL injection vulnerability.

Vulnerabilities Detection Methods:

Vulnerabilities detection methods in GitHub use various types of o detection methods for safe repositories, some of which are given below:

1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) method can analyze the source code of an application and look out for its pattern and identify weak points in code. These methods help to detect any vulnerabilities in the application early on. These are usually done in the development process to detect vulnerabilities.

2. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is one of the vulnerability detection methods where the application is run and an attack is done with simulated malicious traffic.

The experts from CDR Australia suggest that using DAST helps to identify vulnerabilities and limitations of the applications.

This detection is usually to find the vulnerabilities that are not detected by Static Application Security Testing (SAST). This method detects issues such as those related to runtime behavior or configuration issues.

This method is generally conducted later in the development lifecycle, such as during testing or pre-production staging.

3. Dependency Scanning

Dependency scanning detecting methods mainly work on identifying vulnerabilities within the third-party libraries and components on the application.
These third-party libraries are the dependency of the application and the projects and so identifying vulnerabilities is dependency scanning. This method helps to identify any known vulnerabilities.

Security Scanning

This is an overall security scanning method where the techniques are used to identify security issues in the application. Security scanning includes manual code reviews and penetration testing.

Vulnerabilities Addressing Methods:

1. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

This is one of the addressing methods where we implement automated security testing throughout the development pipeline.

With this method, we will identify vulnerabilities that are addressed early and consistently.

2. Regularly Updating

Regular updates of software and dependencies are essential when it comes to addressing vulnerabilities. By doing so, finding new vulnerabilities becomes easier.

3. Prioritisation

There are different levels of vulnerabilities and not all vulnerabilities are equal. Categorizing the vulnerabilities and prioritizing them based on their severity and potential impact.

Focus on critical vulnerabilities first and give less attention to lower vulnerability. This method will help in finding vulnerabilities and managing them smoothly.

4. Patching

Once a vulnerability is identified and prioritized, apply a patch to fix it. Patches are often available from software vendors or open-source project maintainers.

Especially for critical systems, it is recommended to test the patch in a non-production environment. This helps identify any potential issues.


GitHub Security is an advanced feature helping in the security field and how it helps developers and organizations identify and address vulnerabilities in their code repositories.

There are different vulnerability types, including injection vulnerabilities, insecure direct object references, etc. Also, various vulnerability detection methods used by GitHub, such as Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), dependency scanning, and GitHub advanced security code scanning. Finally, using different vulnerability addressing methods including continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), regular updates, vulnerability prioritization, and patching.

By utilizing these GitHub advanced security features offered by GitHub Security to secure your repository and overall applications. Having knowledge of these security features can help developers significantly improve the security posture of their code.


What Languages Does GitHub Advanced Security Support?

GitHub Advanced Security uses CodeQL for code scanning. Their core supported languages encompass many commonly used programming languages including:

  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • Go
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Scala
  • TypeScript

Why is GitHub so important?

GitHub’s key strength lies in its ability to streamline software development. It allows teams to work together seamlessly, track code changes, and share code publicly to accelerate innovation. Developers can showcase their work, find existing solutions, and connect with others, making it a vital platform for the entire software development landscape.

Is GitHub Good for Coding?

Yes, GitHub is excellent for coding. It’s not just a coding platform, but a powerful toolbox for programmers.

Here are many reasons why people use GitHub:

  • Version Control: Keeps track of changes to your code, allowing you to revert to older versions if needed.
  • Collaboration: This lets you work with others on the same project simultaneously.
  • Code Sharing and Discovery: Millions of open-source projects exist on GitHub, providing solutions and inspiration.
  • Portfolio and Networking: Showcase your coding skills and connect with other developers.

How do I use GitHub?

There are several important steps which you can follow for smooth and comfortable use of the GitHub. And they are given below:

  • Install Git
  • Create a GitHub Account
  • Set up a Repository
  • Version Control with Git
  • Connect Local and Remote
  • Collaboration (Optional)

How to install a Git Bash in Ubuntu?

There are several steps to follow for installing a git bash in Ubuntu, which are given below:

  • Open your terminal.
  • Check for existing Git installation (optional).
  • Install Git (if not already installed).
  • Verify the installation.


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