There’s no such thing as too much security. And while you might not think that GitHub is a major risk factor in your cybersecurity, it most certainly is. In fact, there are many ways that coding on GitHub can lead to a serious security breach.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro with the GitHub community, always keep these 5 vulnerabilities in mind to avoid jeopardizing your project and your users.
1. Keep Your Code Private
GitHub is the most popular platform for developers to host their projects. While this has many advantages, it also leaves your code vulnerable to security risks. If you’re not careful, others can access and copy your code, which could lead to the unauthorized use of your intellectual property.
To prevent this, make sure your code is private. This will ensure that only you and the people who are given permission can see it. To make your code private on GitHub, click “settings” on the right side of the screen and then check “private.” You’ll get an email notification when someone requests access to your project; they’ll need to provide a reason for why they want to access before you grant them permission.
2. Check Your Code For Errors
One of the most common mistakes when coding with GitHub is making an error. You may have missed a comma, forgotten to add a semicolon, or placed an undefined variable in a crucial spot in your code. If you’re not checking your code for errors, you’ll end up with a big problem on your hands that can be hard to recover from.
Unfortunately, once the error has been made and you push it live, there’s not much you can do about it. If this happens to be a major security issue, you could lose all of your users and trust forever.
3. Be Mindful Of Who You Collaborate With
Your GitHub account and your code aren’t completely secure unless you keep them to yourself. One of the most common security faults in GitHub is collaborating with people you don’t know. You may be tempted to share your project with someone, but if it’s an unknown person, then the risk of a security breach goes up exponentially.
It might be tempting to share your project with someone since they might offer valuable input or connections that will help you. However, when you collaborate with someone that you don’t know or trust, your project can end up vulnerable and open to attack. It would take less than five seconds for a hacker to delete all traces of your work and there would be nothing you could do about it because it would be too late.
Additionally, if this stranger has access to your account and changes anything on there, all traceable evidence of your work will be gone in an instant. That data can never be retrieved again and all the time and energy put into the research is wasted because no one will ever know that it existed in the first place.
So when considering who to collaborate with on GitHub, think twice before opening up that door when you don’t know what might come through it.
4. Use Secure Passwords
Using a secure password – and using it properly – is an important part of any security regimen.
The first vulnerability that you need to avoid on GitHub is forgetting to use a secure password.
A strong password should have a minimum of eight characters, including upper and lower cases as well as numbers and symbols. A strong password would also include some personal information; something like your spouse’s middle name or your favorite pet’s name can be enough to make your password more secure.
If you only use the same easy-to-remember passwords for all accounts, you run the risk of having all your accounts compromised if one of those accounts becomes compromised. Using different passwords for different accounts makes it harder for hackers to guess the credentials they need to log in and wreak havoc.
5. Beware of Outdated Tools
Tools are constantly being updated for security reasons. If you or your team is working with out-of-date tools, then that can be a major cause of concern. For example, if you’re using an outdated version of Node.js – which, according to recent reports, has an open vulnerability that allows hackers to gain access to the server – then you’re leaving your project vulnerable to exploitation.
If you’re unsure whether or not your tools are outdated, GitHub has a handy status page where you can look up the latest statuses for popular coding languages and other programming languages.
6. Keep up with the newest tools
GitHub has made updates to its platform in order to keep up with the newest tools. This means that updates are coming faster and faster. And while this might be a benefit for some, it can create serious vulnerabilities for others.
To avoid being left behind in the process, you have to stay on top of these updates. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you do this- you just need to find them.
One important tool is GitHub Security Alerts, which sends an email every time someone accesses your repository- even if it’s just for reading. You can also use this tool to set alerts so that you know when someone makes an update, pushes a new branch, or adds commits. All of these are important pieces of information that should be monitored closely to ensure your GitHub account is secure.
It’s also worth noting that utilizing 2-factor authentication (2FA) is always a smart idea because it’s difficult for hackers to gain access without it.
7. Back-Up Your Data
One of the biggest cybersecurity risks that come with coding on GitHub is using third-party tools. These tools are susceptible to outside vulnerabilities, which can lead to data breaches. To avoid these security flaws, always back up your data. If you find an issue in third-party software or plugin, remove it and find a new one.