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Detection of Secrets in Source Code

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As developers, one understands that secret detection can be very difficult as true secrets cannot be easily recognized. Mostly because these secrets do not share common features and have random high entropy strings. Even then, 99% of the time these random high entropy strings are a variety of false positives or example database IDs. Even if these secrets have fixed patterns, they are hard to detect.

This is the reason why detecting secrets can be such a huge issue. In this article, however, we will learn more about secret detection and how to avoid secret sprawl with the help of GitGuardian. If you are ready, let us take a look.

Can Code Reviews Help Detect Secrets?

While code reviews are perfect for overall checking and reviewing, they might not be the best solution for detecting secrets in the repository to prevent any data leak. Here is why:

  • The main focus of reviews is usually on the errors that otherwise cannot be detected automatically.
  • Reviews focus more on the differences between the proposed and the current states instead of looking into the whole history of changes. With that, the risk of leaking data prevails.

This is why code reviews might not be the best solution for detecting secrets in source code. 

How to Detect Secrets in the Source Code?

This particular job can prove to be a difficult task because, essentially, you don’t even know what you are looking for. There are very few factors that can help you recognize a secret, and those too are not completely reliable.

Yet, it is not an impossible task. GitGuardian’s secret detection algorithms have the following characteristics which make it ideal for secret detection with accuracy and prevent any leakage of data:

  • High recall: It barely misses any secret. Many organizations triage false alerts as one missed secret has the potential to cause great harm. But even then, the algorithm does not miss a secret.
  • High precision: The algorithm raises a very low number of false alerts. Otherwise, the team would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of false alerts without detecting a true secret.

What GitGuardian does is work towards an algorithm that can bring a perfect balance between the above factors. The results are — you detect all the secrets without raising an overwhelming number of false alerts.

That is how GitGuardian helps a company detect secrets in their source code and ensures no sensitive information is exposed to the risk of leakage.


GitGuardian takes the security and protection of your company’s data very seriously. This is the reason why they put in a lot of effort to bring forth algorithms that can successfully detect secrets without raising too many false alerts.

If you are interested in trying out their services and taking a look at what they have to offer, do follow their website. They cover a wide range of secrets, so you never have to worry about missing a single one of them. Alongside, they can easily integrate with your system and workflow.

About the author


Sumeet Manhas

Sumeet is professional writer who loves to research of unique topics and express his thoughts by content writing.