Secret leaks often occur when a sensitive piece of authentication data is stored with the source code of an application. Considering the source
code is intended to be deployed across multiple assets, including source code repositories or application hosting servers, the secrets might get
exposed to an unintended audience.
Why is this an issue?
In most cases, trust boundaries are violated when a secret is exposed in a source code repository or an uncontrolled deployment environment.
Unintended people who don’t need to know the secret might get access to it. They might then be able to use it to gain unwanted access to associated
services or resources.
The trust issue can be more or less severe depending on the people’s role and entitlement.
Attackers with access to an Artifactory API key will be able to use this API with all the permissions the corresponding user has been granted
What is the potential impact?
The consequences vary depending on the compromised account entitlement but can range from proprietary information leaks to severe supply chain
Compromise of sensitive data
If the affected service is used to store or process personally identifiable information or other sensitive data, attackers knowing an
authentication secret could be able to access it. Depending on the type of data that is compromised, it could lead to privacy violations, identity
theft, financial loss, or other negative outcomes.
In most cases, a company suffering a sensitive data compromise will face a reputational loss when the security issue is publicly disclosed.
In the case of Artifactory repositories, if they contain private code or software, attackers will be able to steal those. They could use this
software for their own use, to look for further exploitable vulnerability, or disclose it publicly, with or without asking for a ransom.
Supply chain attacks
If the leaked secret gives an attacker the ability to publish code to private packages or repositories under the name of the organization, then
there may exist grave consequences beyond the compromise of source code. The attacker may inject malware, backdoors, or other harmful code into these
This can cause further security breaches inside the organization, but will also affect clients if the malicious code gets added to any products.
Distributing code that (unintentionally) contains backdoors or malware can lead to widespread security vulnerabilities, reputational damage, and
potential legal liabilities.
How to fix it
Revoke the secret
Revoke any leaked secrets and remove them from the application source code.
Before revoking the secret, ensure that no other applications or processes are using it. Other usages of the secret will also be impacted when the
secret is revoked.
Analyze recent secret use
When available, analyze authentication logs to identify any unintended or malicious use of the secret since its disclosure date. Doing this will
allow determining if an attacker took advantage of the leaked secret and to what extent.
This operation should be part of a global incident response process.
Use a secret vault
A secret vault should be used to generate and store the new secret. This will ensure the secret’s security and prevent any further unexpected
Depending on the development platform and the leaked secret type, multiple solutions are currently available.
Noncompliant code example