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What is Repository Security Within GitHub and GitLab?

repository security github gitlab

Protecting and developing application source codes are critical for organizations focused on DevOps, rapid deployment of new microservices, and faster time-to-market. Over 30 million developers worldwide leverage GitHub and GitLab to help meet their application transformation deadlines and requirements.

GitHub and GitLab are web-based tools that track changes in source code by facilitating access to remote repository files. The repositories store all the regularly updated data, enabling users to save valuable time with Git development processes.

In time, students considering a career in software development at will develop and secure their applications within GitHub and GitLab.

This blog will help explain to students and experienced software engineers the differences between these two repository tools and the integrated security capabilities within them.

Who are GitLab and GitHub?


GitHub is a popular open-source server for hosting open-source development projects. Its contribution to the global developers community is the capacity to store your source code freely. All people on GitHub can see your code so you can give others access to your venture or solicit them for exhortation and criticism.

Designers, coders, programmers, and anyone intrigued by software engineering use GitHub. GitHub is useful, with its collection of code regulatory and project coordination apparatuses that back many programming languages, including Python. 


GitLab is a free, open-source platform that aids developers in hosting their applications on the web. GitLab has many features to make collaboration and sharing of code stress-free, besides linking with other tools like Bitbucket and Slack. Conversely, GitLab, also is a paid platform providing more capabilities than GitHub. For instance, you can make private repositories visible to specific people within the company.

What are the differences between GitHub and GitLab?

GitHub is ideal for open-source projects as developers can easily access the code if they need fixing or improvement. It offers multiple languages and allows users to contribute changes, whereas GitLab does not have this capability.

GitLab is preferred by developers wanting to leverage the integrated CI/CD pipeline tools already embedded. Users of GitHub favor Jenkins as their CI/CD pipeline tool.

Understanding GitHub Security

GitHub is a “vault” for source code. Millions of developers use this worldwide to help promote open-source libraries. A source code creator will publish their work on GitHub for others to access “open source.” However, companies use GitHub as well. Some companies may grant “temporary” access to the vault for a developer to access the code. In many cases, the organization will forget to shut off access to the vault. This has led to several security breaches. 

A blunder similar to this could allow an attacker to gain developers’ passwords and get hold of all the confidential information from the repository. Besides obtaining user credentials, it may disclose all company fundamental constants, which could cause a significant security incident for the entire company.

This lapse in security control becomes a threat to the source code itself. Occasionally, repositories are mistakenly established to be open to the public and adversaries take advantage of this opening to get confidential information. Developers may function within a personal copy of the repository, leading to the chance of a leak using malware, hacking, or unintended exposure. Attackers can access all secrets from individual copies, leading to calamity.

To stop disclosing private information on GitHub, use tools like git-secrets. Auditing repositories regularly with tools like truffle hog is another good practice.

Using GitHub applications can make our repositories extremely useful, but it’s critical to be mindful. Before incorporating a GitHub application, you must analyze its trustworthiness and credibility by checking the reviews and author. If the application has any potential security problems, insufficient notices, or mysterious developers, you should be cautious before sanctioning your GitHub organization.

For every different application you bring in, audit the permissions requested to ensure they gain only a few rights than are vital. It is wise to go over both “Third-party access” and “Installed GitHub Apps” frequently to guarantee no unapproved access is present.

A GitHub Advanced Security license provides the following additional features:

  • Secret scanning – detects secrets, for example, keys and tokens, that have been checked into private repositories. 

  • Dependency review – documents the full impact of changes to dependencies and any vulnerability before the next pull request. 

GitLab Security Capabilities Integrated into the CI/CD Pipelines

GitLab offers SAST, DAST, and Container Scanning to help ensure secure applications and compliance with licensing requirements.

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST) scans an application’s source code and binaries to detect potential security flaws. These results can become summarized in a report on GitLab’s merge requests.

  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) reviews your web application for recognizable runtime vulnerabilities. It live executes this scan on a Review App, an externally deployed app, or an active API made per merge request because of GitLab’s CI/CD technology.

  • Container Scanning uses Clair, an open-source tool, to evaluate Docker or App images for known security threats. When a merge request is made, the image analysis can show any vulnerabilities in the environment.

Is GitLab more secure than GitHub?

GitLab and GitHub are relatively comparable in terms of security. Both tools provide a secure repository to protect code already protected from public use. 

The GitLab integration with the GitHub repository is easy, and you can run any external git repository from any vendor.

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