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private issues or pull requests for public repositories #37

tjfontaine opened this Issue Jun 17, 2013 · 45 comments

In the course of maintaing a project it may be necessary to keep some information from the public while a security issue or other scenario is worked on.

Users or organizations that pay for private repositories should be able to create or mark an issue or pull request as private, from there only users specifically mentioned in the issue would have access.

Special care would need to be handled for issue cross linking and other notifications.

isaacs commented Jun 17, 2013

People have pasted npm account details in github issues on more than one occasion.



How do you prevent those credentials from being emailed as notifications when the issue is created?


No one is claiming you can put the cat back in the bag, but there are all sorts of reasons it's still a good idea to make it private after the fact, namely stopping the google indexing or the casual viewing


The owner can just edit to hide that cat. Is that not sufficient?


There are other use cases than merely the credential leak, consider if the repository is working through a security vulnerability.

whit537 commented Jul 3, 2013

+1 from me and @dstufft

shilad commented Aug 24, 2013

+1 for the possibility of using GitHub for students in my classes and pull requests as a mechanism to turn in / receive feedback on assignments. Right now I can't do this because a student's pull request would publicize solutions.

patcon commented Oct 16, 2013

Made a comment back to the OP, but lots of +1's in this highly retweeted post:


$ npm install -g cipherhub
$ cipherhub -d <<<hEK3gIQAwxnd2cFB8b+yO/zak/4yHMVeTi4ohpPkv1zoBFpHDoSr8aFn1jjApctgHUxilqRk5gssf0AUsHVJa2MXZ9HB31/DorVqul3h/mAKRXwonvITEmusQ/hTcSmk3Pc12/mtSb7m23YE5vx2h5Ntc7sxw8Ar6fXfq1s2KxP5OqfaoxGytVQ7PfO5/iD1fvqQKtrk32pQgTt/5+eNqcNgtPGCrrg4Ohm9OTlwkYKNdbGDyZrpfmch6xiC5QlBws+OkAAQbPgFeGljBm8Wnh2zRpzJKgCaE0cJBkmQNlL3lD1bo62nLm/OLzn2uQVpNByIMMX8yzKwlZTO2oWu6Q==

oh god. no no no no,

stash commented Dec 12, 2013

+1 - vulnerabilities should be able to be disclosed responsibly in issues.

isaacs commented Dec 12, 2013

@substack Being able to share private messages in the clear is lovely and useful for many things. But it doesn't obviate the need for private issues. It is, at best, an awkward workaround for this problem. If GitHub wants to be a social network, then they should add standard social network features, like private comments.

Qard commented Sep 4, 2014


There are many reasons we need this:

  • Tracking fixes for security vulnerabilities
  • Tracking issues for customer bugs that require log data with security sensitive data in it.
  • Customers often don't want it to be publicized that our product is running in their network for fear it could be an attack target.

We currently have to maintain two repos, one private and one public, to keep sensitive issues private. It's incredibly awkward and means we have to create issues ourselves and manually report updates to the relevant customer, rather than them being able just view the issue themselves.

zryty commented Feb 13, 2015


For creating - new checkbox: [x] This is security issue.
Old issues of course can't be completely removed, but is nice to have something like this. (Consider allowing access for issue creator - provide more details etc)



v6ak commented Jun 7, 2015

Implementation by competitors:

Google Code allows that. I am not sure if this is allowed for all projects, but in Chromium, you can mark an issue as security issue, which causes it not to be publicly available. Google, however, sends e-mail notifications in plaintext.

Bugzilla also allows that. It is more advanced than at Google Code, because it does not send much details in e-mail notifications unless user has uploaded his public GPG key.

  • When GPG key is not configured in user's profile, the e-mail contains just (as far as I remember) bug number + bug link, category classification, identification of user who made a change and a note about GPG.
  • Once a public GPG key is uploaded, the e-mail subject is still rather brief (e.g. “[Bug 1169291] (Secure bug 1169291 in Firefox :: General)”, that is no summary is provided in the e-mail), as the subject is never encrypted even when using GPG, but the e-mail body contains GPG-encrypted content.


ettisan commented Jul 7, 2015


bortels commented Jul 15, 2015


I found a fundamental security issue in a somewhat-popular (30,000+ users) project, and have no way to privately contact the author to tell them about it. Posting an issue in public is tantamount to giving the hackers a free pass. As I stands, I am forced to troll thru google hoping this person has exposed an email address somewhere.

It would be fundamentally useful to have a "send private note to project maintainer" mechanism of some sort.

dychen commented Jul 29, 2015


erikpmp commented Jul 30, 2015


boskya commented Aug 29, 2015


c-bik commented Sep 6, 2015



+1 for responsible disclosure.


I think there are many use cases for this that are not security focused. Not to say that is not a big use case, just that it is one of many so if this feature was added I don't think it's scope should be narrowed down to tagging things as vulns.

For instance some people who believe such things should be made immediately public (for the sake of argument) and such people may not want issues filed under this tag to be hidden by default.

Ideally a generalized option to submit an issue as "private" should be available and used at the discretion of either the OP or the maintainers. This means that the OP (which does not have access to add labels) would be able to avoid submitting something they know to be sensitive, in the process ringing a bell that simply cannot be (completely) unrung by a maintainer eventually labeling the issue as private/sensitive. Adding this feature would also address a few other privacy (and vanity) related concerns regarding the publication of contributions on a users public-facing profile page.

I don't see this as something that should be exclusive to paid-members only since it's use case are only applicable to public facing repos anyway.

In my view the availability of this option to all Github users does not in any way undermine the usefulness of a paid account. In other words this option does not offer anything that would preclude a user or organisation from needing paid services.


+1 👍

dzhus commented Dec 5, 2015




jovo commented Dec 25, 2015


dzenbot commented Jan 5, 2016


brianmc commented Jan 10, 2016


qris commented Jan 13, 2016






Luceos commented Feb 1, 2016




judgej commented Feb 11, 2016

:+1: Will this ever be considered?


This is such a MASSIVE issue and it's been open for two and a half years. Will GitHub pull their finger out and respond to this? Losing respect for this organisation. :angry:

By not addressing this you are HELPING cyber crime and costing organisations!!


@isaacs Query: do the guys and gals @github actually read this / do you inform them of issues mentioned here? Otherwise this list is nice, but fairly useless since most people probably didn't read you readme with the request to send an email to github support...


Yes I emailed GitHub with a link to this and got a response;

Thanks for the feedback. I'll pass along your request to the Security team.

GitHub Support

tomayac commented Feb 26, 2016

In one of my repos I have something that looks like a private issue created by @Sadads (whose profile 404s for me). The issue as well 404s for me, but is there, has an ID, and can be referenced from another test issue, albeit reveals limited details (see the tooltip and the autocomplete in the screenshot below).


tomayac commented Feb 26, 2016

It turns out GitHub "thought" @Sadads was a spam bot. After contacting support, the Issue finally showed up…


Any updates here? gosh it's been so long!

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