Researchers Find Privilege Escalation Vulnerability in GitHub Repos

Legit Security today revealed that it discovered a privilege escalation vulnerability in GitHub repositories that has since been remediated.

Liav Caspi, Legit Security CTO, said the company worked with GitHub to remediate the issue prior to disclosure. Legit Security researchers reported they found hundreds of GitHub instances rated with over 1,000 stars each that could be subject to the vulnerability.

Caspi said the company also reached out directly to most of those affected sites, including an instance of GitHub that is used to develop the open source Nginx web server that is employed across hundreds of millions of websites.

Cybercriminals could exploit a vulnerable build script to modify code or built artifacts that would result in software being shipped with code controlled by some other entity. The vulnerability could also enable access to sensitive secrets, such as keys, that are used to access cloud services or simply create a malicious pull request.

Legit Security researchers employed a set of risk assessment tools that are part of a larger software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that enables them to apply security policies across their entire software development life cycle. Earlier this year, the company made available a free Rapid Risk Assessment tool to provide organizations with more insights into their software supply chains. Security research findings, along with other security best practices, are embedded within the policies that can be enforced via the Legit Security platform.

In the wake of a series of high-profile breaches, there is now more focus on the security of software supply chains than ever. Gartner estimated that 45% of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains by 2025, a threefold increase from 2021.

Despite those concerns, however, the rate at which new applications are being and updated doesn’t appear to be slowing. Organizations are too dependent on software to encourage customers to slow down the development and deployment rate of applications. It will, however, take years for organizations to properly train developers to correctly employ security tools within their application development processes, otherwise known as DevSecOps best practices, to reduce the number of vulnerabilities that now routinely manifest themselves in production environments. The only practical alternative is to embed more tools that automatically discover vulnerabilities in code during the application development process.

Regardless of the DevSecOps approach, the ultimate goal remains to build more secure applications faster. That can only be achieved if there are more guardrails in place that prevent developers from inadvertently introducing vulnerabilities into an application. The more frequently applications are updated, the more likely it is that a vulnerability will be introduced. Each time those vulnerabilities are discovered after an application is in a production environment, the more expensive they are to remediate. As the volume of vulnerabilities increases, it’s also only a matter of time before the sheer number of security issues that need to be addressed overwhelms both developers and security operations teams alike.

Application security, of course, has not always received the attention it deserves, but demands for increased application security can no longer be ignored.

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