Developers leak Slack access tokens on GitHub, putting sensitive business data at risk

Researchers found more than 1,500 Slack access tokens for bots and accounts in public GitHub projects

Developers from hundreds of companies have included access tokens for their Slack accounts in public projects on GitHub, putting their teams' internal chats and other data at risk.

Slack has become one of the most popular collaboration and internal communication tools used by companies because of its versatility. The platform's API allows users to develop bots that can receive commands or post content from external services directly in Slack channels, making it easy to automate various tasks.

Many developers post the code for their Slack bots -- some of which are small personal projects -- on GitHub, but fail to remove the bots' access tokens. Some developers even include private tokens associated with their own accounts in the code.

Such tokens can provide access to chats, files, private messages, and other sensitive data shared inside the Slack teams where those developers or bots are members.

Researchers from website security firm Detectify found more than 1,500 Slack tokens on GitHub, some of the tokens providing access to teams from payment providers, Internet service providers, schools, advertising agencies, newspapers and health care providers.

Using those tokens, the researchers gained access to Slack teams and found database credentials, sensitive private messages, files containing passwords, and logins to continuous integration platforms and internal services.

"We also concluded from the internal communication inside Slack teams that people tend to be really sloppy with passing credentials in general," the Detectify researchers said in a blog post.

This is not the first time sensitive access tokens were exposed in projects hosted on GitHub. In 2014, one researcher found almost 10,000 access keys for Amazon Web Services and Elastic Compute Cloud left by developers inside publicly accessible code on GitHub.

Other researchers found credentials for back-end databases and services hard-coded in thousands of mobile apps, which can be easily unpacked and inspected.

"Never commit credentials inside code, ever," the Detectify researchers said. "The first thing you should do is to create environment-variables inside a file and ignore that file from the code repository from [the] start."

Slack allows team owners to restrict the creation of apps and custom integrations to only select members, instead of all of them.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?