This tool can help weed out hard-coded keys from software projects

Truffle Hog can find access tokens and keys that are 20 characters or longer inside source code repositories

A security researcher has developed a tool that can automatically detect sensitive access keys that have been hard-coded inside software projects.

The Truffle Hog tool was created by U.S.-based researcher Dylan Ayrey and is written in Python. It searches for hard-coded access keys by scanning deep inside git code repositories for strings that are 20 or more characters and which have a high entropy. A high Shannon entropy, named after American mathematician Claude E. Shannon, would suggest a level of randomness that makes it a candidate for a cryptographic secret, like an access token.

Hard-coding access tokens for various services in software projects is considered a security risk because those tokens can be extracted without much effort by hackers. Unfortunately this practice is very common.

In 2014 a researcher found almost 10,000 access keys for Amazon Web Services and Elastic Compute Cloud left by developers inside publicly accessible code on GitHub. Amazon has since started scanning GitHub for such keys itself and revoking them.

Last year researchers from Detectify found 1,500 Slack tokens hard-coded by developers into GitHub projects, many of them providing access to chats, files, private messages, and other sensitive data shared inside Slack teams.

In 2015, a study by researchers from Technical University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt, Germany, uncovered over 1,000 access credentials for Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) frameworks stored inside Android and iOS applications. Those credentials unlocked access to more than 18.5 million records containing 56 million data items stored on BaaS providers like Facebook-owned Parse, CloudMine or Amazon Web Services.

Truffle Hog digs deep into a project's commit history and branches. It will evaluate the Shannon entropy for both the base64 and hexadecimal character set for every blob of text greater than 20 characters, Ayrey said in the project's description.

The tool is available on GitHub and requires the GitPython library to run. Companies and independent developers can use it to scan their own software projects before hackers do so.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?