In a series of emails to its users, popular code repository website GitHub revealed that some account passwords were inadvertently collected in plaintext by their internal logging systems, prompting an immediate password reset for affected accounts.
GitHub revealed no details as to the specific nature of the bug, only mentioning that it was discovered during an internal regular audit. While the problem seems to have been addressed, GitHub stressed that it was not caused by a data breach and that all passwords are stored using bcrypt, a secure hashing algorithm.
“During the course of regular auditing, GitHub discovered that a recently introduced bug exposed a small number of users’ passwords to our internal logging system, including yours,” reads the GitHub email. “We have corrected this, but you’ll need to reset your password to regain access to your account.”
Only GitHub staff would have purportedly had access to the respective logs containing the plaintext passwords, and the chances for abuse are described as “very unlikely” in the email. The company reportedly said the number of affected accounts is “very small” and that those that have received the email should immediately reset their passwords to regain access to their accounts.
“Rest assured, these passwords were not accessible to the public or other GitHub users at any time. Additionally, they were not accessible to the majority of GitHub staff and we have determined that it is very unlikely that any GitHub staff accessed these logs.”
Without a specific number of affected accounts or a detailed description of the bug, assessing the impact and scope of the incident is difficult. However, this is not the first time GitHub has sent out a password reset email. In 2016 the company sent an email prompting users to change their passwords following major data leaks and breaches on popular social networks.