arXiv:2403.19072v1 Announce Type: new
Abstract: GitGuardian monitored secrets exposure in public GitHub repositories and reported developers leaked over 12 million secrets (database and other credentials) in 2023, indicating a 113% surge from 2021. Despite the availability of secret detection tools, developers ignore the tools’ reported warnings because of false positives (25%-99%). However, each secret protects assets of different values accessible through asset identifiers (a DNS name and a public or private IP address). The asset information for a secret can aid developers in filtering false positives and prioritizing secret removal from the source code. However, existing secret detection tools do not provide the asset information, thus presenting difficulty to developers in filtering secrets only by looking at the secret value or finding the assets manually for each reported secret. The goal of our study is to aid software practitioners in prioritizing secrets removal by providing the assets information protected by the secrets through our novel static analysis tool. We present AssetHarvester, a static analysis tool to detect secret-asset pairs in a repository. Since the location of the asset can be distant from where the secret is defined, we investigated secret-asset co-location patterns and found four patterns. To identify the secret-asset pairs of the four patterns, we utilized three approaches (pattern matching, data flow analysis, and fast-approximation heuristics). We curated a benchmark of 1,791 secret-asset pairs of four database types extracted from 188 public GitHub repositories to evaluate the performance of AssetHarvester. AssetHarvester demonstrates precision of (97%), recall (90%), and F1-score (94%) in detecting secret-asset pairs. Our findings indicate that data flow analysis employed in AssetHarvester detects secret-asset pairs with 0% false positives and aids in improving the recall of secret detection tools.

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