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Attackers Can Bypass GitHub Required Reviewers to Submit Malicious Code

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Code reviews are an essential security guardrail, but GitHub’s required code reviewers’ settings might be giving you a false sense of security – they can easily be bypassed by any collaborator with reviewer permissions.

See how an attacker can use a compromised account to submit malicious code and merge it into your repository’s main branch while bypassing code review restrictions in this post.


  • GitHub’s required reviewers capability can be bypassed if currently using this setting to require at least one code review before merging code.

  • Any code reviewer reviewing code can simply submit malicious code on pull requests during the review process and merge that code to the main branch without review.

  • GitHub does not currently provide users the ability to directly eliminate this risk.

Even if you followed every agile development best practice perfectly, there are still risks in agile software development. Agile has proven that it offers more benefits than drawbacks so it’s important to understand the potential security risks so that you can mitigate them ahead of time.

What Are Required Reviewers?

A typical development workflow looks like the following:

  1. The developer diverges from the repository’s main development branch

  2. Then the developer adds/deletes/modifies the code as needed.

  3. Finally, a second person must review and approve the changes before that code can be merged back to the main branch.