Pipeline secret detection

Tier: Free, Premium, Ultimate Offering: GitLab.com, Self-managed, GitLab Dedicated

Pipeline secret detection scans files after they are committed to a Git repository and pushed to GitLab.

After you enable pipeline secret detection, scans run in a CI/CD job named secret_detection. You can run scans and view pipeline secret detection JSON report artifacts in any GitLab tier.

With GitLab Ultimate, pipeline secret detection results are also processed so you can:

For an interactive reading and how-to demo of this pipeline secret detection documentation see:

For other interactive reading and how-to demos, see the Get Started With GitLab Application Security Playlist.

Detected secrets

GitLab maintains the detection rules used in pipeline secret detection. The default ruleset contains more than 100 patterns.

Most pipeline secret detection patterns search for specific types of secrets. Many services add prefixes or other structural details to their secrets so they can be identified if they’re leaked. For example, GitLab adds a glpat- prefix to project, group, and personal access tokens by default.

To provide more reliable, high-confidence results, pipeline secret detection only looks for passwords or other unstructured secrets in specific contexts like URLs.

A detected secret remains in the vulnerability report as “Still detected” even after the secret is removed from the scanned file. This is because the secret remains in the Git repository’s history. To address a detected secret, remediate the leak, then triage the vulnerability.

Coverage

Pipeline secret detection scans different aspects of your code, depending on the situation. For all methods except “Default branch”, pipeline secret detection scans commits, not the working tree. For example, pipeline secret detection can detect if a secret was added in one commit and removed in a later commit.

  • Historical scan

    If the SECRET_DETECTION_HISTORIC_SCAN variable is set, the content of all branches is scanned. Before scanning the repository’s content, pipeline secret detection runs the command git fetch --all to fetch the content of all branches.

  • Commit range

    If the SECRET_DETECTION_LOG_OPTIONS variable is set, the secrets analyzer fetches the entire history of the branch or reference the pipeline is being run for. Pipeline secret detection then runs, scanning the commit range specified.

  • Default branch

    When pipeline secret detection is run on the default branch, the Git repository is treated as a plain folder. Only the contents of the repository at the current HEAD are scanned. Commit history is not scanned.

  • Push event

    On a push event, pipeline secret detection determines what commit range to scan, given the information available in the runner. To determine the commit range, the variables CI_COMMIT_SHA and CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA are important.

    • CI_COMMIT_SHA is the commit at HEAD for a given branch. This variable is always set for push events.
    • CI_COMMIT_BEFORE_SHA is set in most cases. However, it is not set for the first push event on a new branch, nor for merge pipelines. Because of this, pipeline secret detection can’t be guaranteed when multiple commits are committed to a new branch.
  • Merge request

    In a merge request, pipeline secret detection scans every commit made on the source branch. To use this feature, you must use the latest pipeline secret detection template, as it supports merge request pipelines. Pipeline secret detection’s results are only available after the pipeline is completed.

Full history pipeline secret detection

By default, pipeline secret detection scans only the current state of the Git repository. Any secrets contained in the repository’s history are not detected. To address this, pipeline secret detection can scan the Git repository’s full history.

You should do a full history scan only once, after enabling pipeline secret detection. A full history can take a long time, especially for larger repositories with lengthy Git histories. After completing an initial full history scan, use only standard pipeline secret detection as part of your pipeline.

Advanced vulnerability tracking

Tier: Ultimate Offering: GitLab.com, Self-managed, GitLab Dedicated
History

When developers make changes to a file with identified secrets, it’s likely that the positions of these secrets will also change. Pipeline secret detection may have already flagged these secrets as vulnerabilities, tracked in the Vulnerability Report. These vulnerabilities are associated with specific secrets for easy identification and action. However, if the detected secrets aren’t accurately tracked as they shift, managing vulnerabilities becomes challenging, potentially resulting in duplicate vulnerability reports.

Pipeline secret detection uses an advanced vulnerability tracking algorithm to more accurately identify when the same secret has moved within a file due to refactoring or unrelated changes.

For more information, see the confidential project https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/security-products/post-analyzers/tracking-calculator. The content of this project is available only to GitLab team members.

Unsupported workflows

  • The algorithm does not support the workflow where the existing finding lacks a tracking signature and does not share the same location as the newly detected finding.
  • For some rule types, such as cryptographic keys, pipeline secret detection identifies leaks by matching prefix of the secret rather than the entire secret value. In this scenario, the algorithm consolidates different secrets of the same rule type in a file into a single finding, rather than treating each distinct secret as a separate finding. For example, the SSH Private Key rule type matches only the -----BEGIN OPENSSH PRIVATE KEY----- prefix of a value to confirm the presence of a SSH private key. If there are two distinct SSH Private Keys within the same file, the algorithm considers both values as identical and reports only one finding instead of two.
  • The algorithm’s scope is limited to a per-file basis, meaning that the same secret appearing in two different files is treated as two distinct findings.

Output

Pipeline secret detection outputs the file gl-secret-detection-report.json as a job artifact. The file contains detected secrets. You can download the file for processing outside GitLab.

For more information, see:

Configuration

Requirements

Prerequisites:

  • Linux-based GitLab Runner with the docker or kubernetes executor. If you’re using the shared runners on GitLab.com, this is enabled by default.
    • Windows Runners are not supported.
    • CPU architectures other than amd64 are not supported.
  • GitLab CI/CD configuration (.gitlab-ci.yml) must include the test stage.

Different features are available in different GitLab tiers.

Capability In Free & Premium In Ultimate
Enable the analyzer Yes Yes
Customize analyzer settings Yes Yes
Download output Yes Yes
See new findings in the merge request widget No Yes
View identified secrets in the pipelines’ Security tab No Yes
Manage vulnerabilities No Yes
Access the Security Dashboard No Yes
Customize analyzer rulesets No Yes

Enable the analyzer

To enable pipeline secret detection, either:

Edit the .gitlab-ci.yml file manually

This method requires you to manually edit the existing .gitlab-ci.yml file. Use this method if your GitLab CI/CD configuration file is complex.

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
  2. Select Build > Pipeline editor.
  3. Copy and paste the following to the bottom of the .gitlab-ci.yml file:

    include:
      - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml
    
  4. Select the Validate tab, then select Validate pipeline. The message Simulation completed successfully indicates the file is valid.
  5. Select the Edit tab.
  6. Optional. In the Commit message text box, customize the commit message.
  7. In the Branch text box, enter the name of the default branch.
  8. Select Commit changes.

Pipelines now include a pipeline Secret Detection job.

Use an automatically configured merge request

History

This method automatically prepares a merge request, with the pipeline secret detection template included in the .gitlab-ci.yml file. You then merge the merge request to enable pipeline secret detection.

note
This method works best with no existing .gitlab-ci.yml file, or with a minimal configuration file. If you have a complex GitLab configuration file it may not be parsed successfully, and an error may occur. In that case, use the manual method instead.

To enable pipeline secret detection:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
  2. Select Secure > Security configuration.
  3. In the Pipeline Secret Detection row, select Configure with a merge request.
  4. Optional. Complete the fields.
  5. Select Create merge request.
  6. Review and merge the merge request.

Pipelines now include a pipeline secret detection job.

Customize analyzer settings

The pipeline secret detection scan settings can be changed through CI/CD variables by using the variables parameter in .gitlab-ci.yml.

caution
All configuration of GitLab security scanning tools should be tested in a merge request before merging these changes to the default branch. Failure to do so can give unexpected results, including a large number of false positives.

Add new patterns

To search for other types of secrets in your repositories, you can customize analyzer rulesets.

To propose a new detection rule for all users of pipeline secret detection, create a merge request against the file containing the default rules.

If you operate a cloud or SaaS product and you’re interested in partnering with GitLab to better protect your users, learn more about our partner program for leaked credential notifications.

Pin to specific analyzer version

The GitLab-managed CI/CD template specifies a major version and automatically pulls the latest analyzer release within that major version.

In some cases, you may need to use a specific version. For example, you might need to avoid a regression in a later release.

To override the automatic update behavior, set the SECRETS_ANALYZER_VERSION CI/CD variable in your CI/CD configuration file after you include the Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml template.

You can set the tag to:

  • A major version, like 4. Your pipelines use any minor or patch updates that are released within this major version.
  • A minor version, like 4.5. Your pipelines use any patch updates that are released within this minor version.
  • A patch version, like 4.5.0. Your pipelines don’t receive any updates.

This example uses a specific minor version of the analyzer:

include:
  - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml

secret_detection:
  variables:
    SECRETS_ANALYZER_VERSION: "4.5"

Enable full history scan

To enable full history scan, set the variable SECRET_DETECTION_HISTORIC_SCAN to true in your .gitlab-ci.yml file.

Run jobs in merge request pipelines

See Use security scanning tools with merge request pipelines.

Override the analyzer jobs

To override a job definition, (for example, change properties like variables or dependencies), declare a job with the same name as the secret_detection job to override. Place this new job after the template inclusion and specify any additional keys under it.

In the following example extract of a .gitlab-ci.yml file:

  • The Jobs/Secret-Detection CI template is included.
  • In the secret_detection job, the CI/CD variable SECRET_DETECTION_HISTORIC_SCAN is set to true. Because the template is evaluated before the pipeline configuration, the last mention of the variable takes precedence, so an historic scan is performed.
include:
  - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml

secret_detection:
  variables:
    SECRET_DETECTION_HISTORIC_SCAN: "true"

Customize analyzer rulesets

Tier: Ultimate
History
  • Introduced in GitLab 13.5. Expanded to include additional passthrough types of file and raw in GitLab 14.6.
  • Enabled support for overriding rules in GitLab 14.8.
  • Enabled support for passthrough chains and included additional passthrough types of git and url in GitLab 17.2.

You can customize the behavior of pipeline secret detection by creating a ruleset configuration file, either in the repository being scanned or a remote repository. Customization enables you to modify, replace, or extend the default ruleset.

There are multiple kinds of customizations available:

Create a ruleset configuration file

To create a ruleset configuration file:

  1. Create a .gitlab directory at the root of your project, if one doesn’t already exist.
  2. Create a file named secret-detection-ruleset.toml in the .gitlab directory.

Modify rules from the default ruleset

You can modify rules predefined in the default ruleset.

Modifying rules can help you adapt pipeline secret detection to an existing workflow or tool. For example you may want to override the severity of a detected secret or disable a rule from being detected at all.

You can also use a ruleset configuration file stored remotely (i.e. in a remote Git repository or website) to modify predefined rules.

Disable a rule
History
  • Ability to disable a rule with a remote ruleset was enabled in GitLab 16.0 and later.

You can disable rules that you don’t want active. To disable rules from the analyzer default ruleset:

  1. Create a ruleset configuration file, if one doesn’t exist already.
  2. Set the disabled flag to true in the context of a ruleset section.
  3. In one or more ruleset.identifier subsections, list the rules to disable. Every ruleset.identifier section has:
    • A type field for the predefined rule identifier.
    • A value field for the rule name.

In the following example secret-detection-ruleset.toml file, the disabled rules are matched by the type and value of identifiers:

[secrets]
  [[secrets.ruleset]]
    disable = true
    [secrets.ruleset.identifier]
      type  = "gitleaks_rule_id"
      value = "RSA private key"
Override a rule
History
  • Ability to override a rule with a remote ruleset was enabled in GitLab 16.0 and later.

If there are specific rules to customize, you can override them. For example, you may increase the severity of a specific type of secret because leaking it would have a higher impact on your workflow.

To override rules from the analyzer default ruleset:

  1. Create a ruleset configuration file, if one doesn’t exist already.
  2. In one or more ruleset.identifier subsections, list the rules to override. Every ruleset.identifier section has:
    • A type field for the predefined rule identifier.
    • A value field for the rule name.
  3. In the ruleset.override context of a ruleset section, provide the keys to override. Any combination of keys can be overridden. Valid keys are:
    • description
    • message
    • name
    • severity (valid options are: Critical, High, Medium, Low, Unknown, Info)

In the following secret-detection-ruleset.toml file, rules are matched by the type and value of identifiers and then overridden:

[secrets]
  [[secrets.ruleset]]
    [secrets.ruleset.identifier]
      type  = "gitleaks_rule_id"
      value = "RSA private key"
    [secrets.ruleset.override]
      description = "OVERRIDDEN description"
      message     = "OVERRIDDEN message"
      name        = "OVERRIDDEN name"
      severity    = "Info"
With a remote ruleset

A remote ruleset is a configuration file stored outside the current repository. It can be used to modify rules across multiple projects.

To modify a predefined rule with a remote ruleset, you can use the SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE CI/CD variable:

include:
  - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE: "gitlab.com/example-group/remote-ruleset-project"

Pipeline secret detection assumes the configuration is defined in .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml file in the repository referenced by the CI variable where the remote ruleset is stored. If that file doesn’t exist, please make sure to create one and follow the steps to override or disable a predefined rule as outlined above.

note
A local .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml file in the project takes precedence over SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE by default because SECURE_ENABLE_LOCAL_CONFIGURATION is set to true. If you set SECURE_ENABLE_LOCAL_CONFIGURATION to false, the local file is ignored and the default configuration or SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE (if set) is used.

The SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE variable uses a format similar to Git URLs for specifying a URI, optional authentication, and optional Git SHA. The variable uses the following format:

<AUTH_USER>:<AUTH_PASSWORD>@<PROJECT_PATH>@<GIT_SHA>

If the configuration file is stored in a private project that requires authentication, you may use a Group Access Token securely stored in a CI variable to load the remote ruleset:

include:
  - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  SECRET_DETECTION_RULESET_GIT_REFERENCE: "group_2504721_bot_7c9311ffb83f2850e794d478ccee36f5:$GROUP_ACCESS_TOKEN@gitlab.com/example-group/remote-ruleset-project"

See bot users for groups to learn how to find the username associated with a group access token.

Replace the default ruleset

You can replace the default ruleset configuration using a number of customizations. Those can be combined using passthroughs into a single configuration.

Using passthroughs, you can:

With an inline ruleset

You can use raw passthrough to replace default ruleset with configuration provided inline.

To do so, add the following in the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository, and adjust the rule defined under [[rules]] as appropriate:

[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "raw"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = """
title = "replace default ruleset with a raw passthrough"

[[rules]]
description = "Test for Raw Custom Rulesets"
regex = '''Custom Raw Ruleset T[est]{3}'''
"""

The above example replaces the default ruleset with a rule that checks for the regex defined - Custom Raw Ruleset T with a suffix of 3 characters from either one of e, s, or t letters.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

With a local ruleset

You can use file passthrough to replace the default ruleset with another file committed to the current repository.

To do so, add the following in the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository and adjust the value as appropriate to point to the path of the file with the local ruleset configuration:

[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "file"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = "config/gitleaks.toml"

This would replace the default ruleset with the configuration defined in config/gitleaks.toml file.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

With a remote ruleset

You can replace the default ruleset with configuration defined in a remote Git repository or a file stored somewhere online using the git and url passthroughs, respectively.

A remote ruleset can be used across multiple projects. For example, you may want to apply the same ruleset to a number of projects in one of your namespaces, in such case, you may use either type of passthrough to load up that remote ruleset and have it used by multiple projects. It also enables centralized management of a ruleset, with only authorized people able to edit.

To use git passthrough, add the following to the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in a repository and adjust the value to point to the address of the Git repository:

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml in https://gitlab.com/user_group/basic_repository
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "git"
    ref    = "main"
    subdir = "config"
    value  = "https://gitlab.com/user_group/central_repository_with_shared_ruleset"

In this configuration the analyzer loads the ruleset from the gitleaks.toml file inside the config directory in the main branch of the repository stored at user_group/central_repository_with_shared_ruleset. You can then proceed to include the same configuration in projects other than user_group/basic_repository.

Alternatively, you may use the url passthrough to replace the default ruleset with a remote ruleset configuration.

To use the url passthrough, add the following to the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in a repository and adjust the value to point to the address of the remote file:

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml in https://gitlab.com/user_group/basic_repository
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "url"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = "https://example.com/gitleaks.toml"

In this configuration the analyzer loads the ruleset configuration from gitleaks.toml file stored at the address provided.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

With a private remote ruleset

If a ruleset configuration is stored in a private repository you must provide the credentials to access the repository by using the passthrough’s auth setting.

note
The auth setting only works with git passthrough.

To use a remote ruleset stored in a private repository, add the following to the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in a repository, adjust the value to point to the address of the Git repository, and update auth to use the appropriate credentials:

[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "git"
    ref    = "main"
    auth   = "USERNAME:PASSWORD" # replace USERNAME and PASSWORD as appropriate
    subdir = "config"
    value  = "https://gitlab.com/user_group/central_repository_with_shared_ruleset"
caution
Beware of leaking credentials when using this feature. Check this section for an example on how to use environment variables to minimize the risk.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

Extend the default ruleset

You can also extend the default ruleset configuration with additional rules as appropriate. This can be helpful when you would still like to benefit from the high-confidence predefined rules maintained by GitLab in the default ruleset, but also want to add rules for types of secrets that may be used in your own projects and namespaces.

With a local ruleset

You can use a file passthrough to extend the default ruleset to add additional rules.

Add the following to the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository, and adjust the value as appropriate to point to the path of the extended configuration file:

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "file"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = "extended-gitleaks-config.toml"

The extended configuration stored in extended-gitleaks-config.toml is included in the configuration used by the analyzer in the CI/CD pipeline.

In the example below, we add a couple of new [[rules]] sections that define a number of regular expressions to be detected:

# extended-gitleaks-config.toml
[extend]
# Extends default packaged ruleset, NOTE: do not change the path.
path = "/gitleaks.toml"

[[rules]]
  description = "Example Service API Key"
  regex = '''example_api_key'''

[[rules]]
  description = "Example Service API Secret"
  regex = '''example_api_secret'''

With this ruleset configuration the analyzer detects any strings matching with those two defined regex patterns.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

With a remote ruleset

Similar to how you can replace the default ruleset with a remote ruleset, you can also extend the default ruleset with configuration stored in a remote Git repository or file stored external to the repository in which you have the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file.

This can be achieved by using either of the git or url passthroughs as discussed previously.

To do that with a git passthrough, add the following to .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository, and adjust the value, ref, and subdir as appropriate to point to the path of the extended configuration file:

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml in https://gitlab.com/user_group/basic_repository
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "git"
    ref    = "main"
    subdir = "config"
    value  = "https://gitlab.com/user_group/central_repository_with_shared_ruleset"

Pipeline secret detection assumes the remote ruleset configuration file is called gitleaks.toml, and is stored in config directory on the main branch of the referenced repository.

To extend the default ruleset, the gitleaks.toml file should use [extend] directive similar to the example above:

# https://gitlab.com/user_group/central_repository_with_shared_ruleset/-/raw/main/config/gitleaks.toml
[extend]
# Extends default packaged ruleset, NOTE: do not change the path.
path = "/gitleaks.toml"

[[rules]]
  description = "Example Service API Key"
  regex = '''example_api_key'''

[[rules]]
  description = "Example Service API Secret"
  regex = '''example_api_secret'''

To use a url passthrough, add the following to .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository, and adjust the value as appropriate to point to the path of the extended configuration file

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml in https://gitlab.com/user_group/basic_repository
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "url"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = "https://example.com/gitleaks.toml"

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

Ignore patterns and paths

There may be situations in which you need to ignore a certain pattern or path from being detected by pipeline secret detection. For example, you may have a file including fake secrets to be used in a test suite.

In that case, you can utilize Gitleaks’ native [allowlist] directive to ignore specific patterns or paths.

note
This feature works regardless of whether you’re using a local or a remote ruleset configuration file. The examples below utilizes a local ruleset using file passthrough though.

To ignore a pattern, add the following to the .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml configuration file stored in the same repository, and adjust the value as appropriate to point to the path of the extended configuration file:

# .gitlab/secret-detection-ruleset.toml
[secrets]
  [[secrets.passthrough]]
    type   = "file"
    target = "gitleaks.toml"
    value  = "extended-gitleaks-config.toml"

The extended configuration stored in extended-gitleaks-config.toml will be included in the configuration used by the analyzer.

In the example below, we add an [allowlist] directive that defines a regex that matches the secret to be ignored (“allowed”):

# extended-gitleaks-config.toml
[extend]
# Extends default packaged ruleset, NOTE: do not change the path.
path = "/gitleaks.toml"

[allowlist]
  description = "allowlist of patterns to ignore in detection"
  regexTarget = "match"
  regexes = [
    '''glpat-[0-9a-zA-Z_\\-]{20}'''
  ]

This ignores any string matching glpat- with a suffix of 20 characters of digits and letters.

Similarly, you can exclude specific paths from being scanned. In the example below, we define an array of paths to ignore under the [allowlist] directive. A path could either be a regular expression, or a specific file path:

# extended-gitleaks-config.toml
[extend]
# Extends default packaged ruleset, NOTE: do not change the path.
path = "/gitleaks.toml"

[allowlist]
  description = "allowlist of patterns to ignore in detection"
  paths = [
    '''/gitleaks.toml''',
    '''(.*?)(jpg|gif|doc|pdf|bin|svg|socket)'''
  ]

This ignores any secrets detected in either /gitleaks.toml file or any file ending with one of the specified extensions.

For more information on the passthrough syntax to use, see Schema.

Ignore secrets inline

In some instances, you might want to ignore a secret inline. For example, you may have a fake secret in an example or a test suite. In these instances, you will want to ignore the secret instead of having it reported as a vulnerability.

To ignore a secret, add gitleaks:allow as a comment to the line that contains the secret.

For example:

 "A personal token for GitLab will look like glpat-JUST20LETTERSANDNUMB" #gitleaks:allow

Available CI/CD variables

Pipeline secret detection can be customized by defining available CI/CD variables:

CI/CD variable Default value Description
SECRET_DETECTION_EXCLUDED_PATHS ”” Exclude vulnerabilities from output based on the paths. The paths are a comma-separated list of patterns. Patterns can be globs (see doublestar.Match for supported patterns), or file or folder paths (for example, doc,spec ). Parent directories also match patterns. Introduced in GitLab 13.3.
SECRET_DETECTION_HISTORIC_SCAN false Flag to enable a historic Gitleaks scan.
SECRET_DETECTION_IMAGE_SUFFIX ”” Suffix added to the image name. If set to -fips, FIPS-enabled images are used for scan. See Use FIPS-enabled images for more details. Introduced in GitLab 14.10.
SECRET_DETECTION_LOG_OPTIONS ”” git log options used to define commit ranges. Introduced in GitLab 15.1.

In previous GitLab versions, the following variables were also available:

CI/CD variable Default value Description
SECRET_DETECTION_COMMIT_FROM - The commit a Gitleaks scan starts at. Removed in GitLab 13.5. Replaced with SECRET_DETECTION_COMMITS.
SECRET_DETECTION_COMMIT_TO - The commit a Gitleaks scan ends at. Removed in GitLab 13.5. Replaced with SECRET_DETECTION_COMMITS.
SECRET_DETECTION_COMMITS - The list of commits that Gitleaks should scan. Introduced in GitLab 13.5. Removed in GitLab 15.0.

Offline configuration

Tier: PREMIUM Offering: Self-managed

An offline environment has limited, restricted, or intermittent access to external resources through the internet. For self-managed GitLab instances in such an environment, pipeline secret detection requires some configuration changes. The instructions in this section must be completed together with the instructions detailed in offline environments.

Configure GitLab Runner

By default, a runner tries to pull Docker images from the GitLab container registry even if a local copy is available. You should use this default setting, to ensure Docker images remain current. However, if no network connectivity is available, you must change the default GitLab Runner pull_policy variable.

Configure the GitLab Runner CI/CD variable pull_policy to if-not-present.

Use local pipeline secret detection analyzer image

Use a local pipeline secret detection analyzer image if you want to obtain the image from a local Docker registry instead of the GitLab container registry.

Prerequisites:

  • Importing Docker images into a local offline Docker registry depends on your network security policy. Consult your IT staff to find an accepted and approved process to import or temporarily access external resources.
  1. Import the default pipeline secret detection analyzer image from registry.gitlab.com into your local Docker container registry:

    registry.gitlab.com/security-products/secrets:4
    

    The pipeline secret detection analyzer’s image is periodically updated so you should periodically update the local copy.

  2. Set the CI/CD variable SECURE_ANALYZERS_PREFIX to the local Docker container registry.

    include:
      - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml
    
    variables:
      SECURE_ANALYZERS_PREFIX: "localhost:5000/analyzers"
    

The pipeline secret detection job should now use the local copy of the analyzer Docker image, without requiring internet access.

Using a custom SSL CA certificate authority

To trust a custom Certificate Authority, set the ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE variable to the bundle of CA certificates that you trust. Do this either in the .gitlab-ci.yml file, in a file variable, or as a CI/CD variable.

  • In the .gitlab-ci.yml file, the ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE value must contain the text representation of the X.509 PEM public-key certificate.

    For example:

    variables:
      ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE: |
          -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
          MIIGqTCCBJGgAwIBAgIQI7AVxxVwg2kch4d56XNdDjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQsFADCB
          ...
          jWgmPqF3vUbZE0EyScetPJquRFRKIesyJuBFMAs=
          -----END CERTIFICATE-----
    
  • If using a file variable, set the value of ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE to the path to the certificate.

  • If using a variable, set the value of ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE to the text representation of the certificate.

Demos

There are demonstration projects that illustrate some of these configuration options.

Below is a table with the demonstration projects and their associated workflows:

Action/Workflow Applies to/via With inline or local ruleset With remote ruleset
Disable a rule Predefined rules Local Ruleset / Project Remote Ruleset / Project
Override a rule Predefined rules Local Ruleset / Project Remote Ruleset / Project
Replace default ruleset File Passthrough Local Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Replace default ruleset Raw Passthrough Inline Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Replace default ruleset Git Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Replace default ruleset URL Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Extend default ruleset File Passthrough Local Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Extend default ruleset Git Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Extend default ruleset URL Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore paths File Passthrough Local Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Ignore paths Git Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore paths URL Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore patterns File Passthrough Local Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Ignore patterns Git Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore patterns URL Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore values File Passthrough Local Ruleset / Project Not applicable
Ignore values Git Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project
Ignore values URL Passthrough Not applicable Remote Ruleset / Project

There are also some video demonstrations walking through setting up remote rulesets:

FIPS-enabled images

History

The default scanner images are built off a base Alpine image for size and maintainability. GitLab offers Red Hat UBI versions of the images that are FIPS-enabled.

To use the FIPS-enabled images, either:

  • Set the SECRET_DETECTION_IMAGE_SUFFIX CI/CD variable to -fips.
  • Add the -fips extension to the default image name.

For example:

variables:
  SECRET_DETECTION_IMAGE_SUFFIX: '-fips'

include:
  - template: Jobs/Secret-Detection.gitlab-ci.yml

Troubleshooting

Debug-level logging

Debug-level logging can help when troubleshooting. For details, see debug-level logging.

Warning: gl-secret-detection-report.json: no matching files

For information on this, see the general Application Security troubleshooting section.

Error: Couldn't run the gitleaks command: exit status 2

The pipeline secret detection analyzer relies on generating patches between commits to scan content for secrets. If the number of commits in a merge request is greater than the value of the GIT_DEPTH CI/CD variable, Secret Detection fails to detect secrets.

For example, you could have a pipeline triggered from a merge request containing 60 commits and the GIT_DEPTH variable set to less than 60. In that case the pipeline secret detection job fails because the clone is not deep enough to contain all of the relevant commits. To verify the current value, see pipeline configuration.

To confirm this as the cause of the error, enable debug-level logging, then rerun the pipeline. The logs should look similar to the following example. The text “object not found” is a symptom of this error.

ERRO[2020-11-18T18:05:52Z] object not found
[ERRO] [secrets] [2020-11-18T18:05:52Z] ▶ Couldn't run the gitleaks command: exit status 2
[ERRO] [secrets] [2020-11-18T18:05:52Z] ▶ Gitleaks analysis failed: exit status 2

To resolve the issue, set the GIT_DEPTH CI/CD variable to a higher value. To apply this only to the pipeline secret detection job, the following can be added to your .gitlab-ci.yml file:

secret_detection:
  variables:
    GIT_DEPTH: 100

Error: ERR fatal: ambiguous argument

Pipeline secret detection can fail with the message ERR fatal: ambiguous argument error if your repository’s default branch is unrelated to the branch the job was triggered for. See issue !352014 for more details.

To resolve the issue, make sure to correctly set your default branch on your repository. You should set it to a branch that has related history with the branch you run the secret-detection job on.

exec /bin/sh: exec format error message in job log

The GitLab pipeline secret detection analyzer only supports running on the amd64 CPU architecture. This message indicates that the job is being run on a different architecture, such as arm.

Warnings

Responding to a leaked secret

When a secret is detected, you should rotate it immediately. GitLab attempts to automatically revoke some types of leaked secrets. For those that are not automatically revoked, you must do so manually.

Purging a secret from the repository’s history does not fully address the leak. The original secret remains in any existing forks or clones of the repository.