Revoking Secrets Leaks to Repositories by Deleting Git History

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Sensitive information such as API keys, service tokens, database credentials, and private keys are sometimes mistakenly leaked and exposed to the public. Preventing leakage of information is far much better than having to deal with application security after publicly availing GitHub Secrets to people on GitHub. Once such information has been compromised, one cannot assume that it was accessed by no one since most people scan public repositories to find committed secrets. Public secret leakage is an obvious mistake made by a good number of developers and may require the help of cybersecurity companies such as GitGuardian to help in secret scanning and remediation to prevent leakage of sensitive information and revoke leaked data.

Secret detection and remediation solutions work especially before a source code has been deployed since it involves scanning of the repositories and every branch during software development. This helps to prevent leakage of secrets from the early stages. Leaking secrets to public repositories however requires a more complex remediation approach. It is difficult to identify the number of people who have already accessed the information and therefore the revocation of such sensitive information is a time-oriented service. The earlier the leaked information is revoked from the public repository the higher the chances of restoring security control. Secrets leaked to git public repositories always expose companies and should be avoided at all costs or dealt with efficiently to avoid damages.

The process of taking down information from a public GitHub repository is never a guarantee for safety. This is because the cyber attackers or unauthorized persons who accessed such data can still use and abuse it. The fact that GitHub distributes information to numerous locations makes it worse since the information can be seen by several people in real-time. However, taking down the information as soon as possible can be a remedy hence important in the case of public leaks by developers. The major place that should be checked to ensure the secret is completely deleted is the git history. Secrets remain in git history even when the source code has been scanned for secrets therefore rewriting the whole of the project history may be necessary. Revoking such secrets in public GitHub is however not guaranteed since it may still be used in different locations and by multiple users.

Secrets leaked publicly to private repositories are much easier to handle. The secrets are considered compromised once they reach the central version control. The remediation of such shared secret information requires the input of the development, operations, and security application teams. The secret must be revoked by being rotated and redistributed while ensuring that the software development cycle is not interfered with together with any other running systems. Depending on the size of an organization, a secret can be hard or easy to revoke. This process may also require the history in GitHub to be deleted but with consideration to the company’s policies.

Sensitive data leaks need to be handled carefully and immediately to avoid the secret from reaching more people. The revoking of such leaked information may however not be complete since the information can still be used by those who have accessed it. Publicly leaking secrets into both private and public repositories is a mistake that is difficult to remediate. The timing and how quick action are taken are important in such cases, but the process does not guarantee the complete regain of security control. Most companies prefer to delete the git history to prevent further access by targeting persons and attackers