GitHub Advanced Security – Exporting results using the Rest API

Recently while working on a code uplift project with a customer, I wanted a simple way to analyse our Advanced Security results. While the Github UI provides easy methods to do basic analysis and prioritisation, we wanted to complete our reporting and detailed planning off platform. This post will cover the basic steps we followed to export GitHub Advanced Security results to a readable format!

Available Advanced Security API Endpoints

GitHub provides a few API endpoints for Code Scanning which are important for this process, with the following used today:

This post will use PowerShell as our primary export tool, but reading the GitHub documentation carefully should get you going in your language or tool of choice!

Required Authorisation

As a rule, all GitHub API calls should be authenticated. While you can implement a GitHub application for this process, the easiest way is to use an authorised Personal Access Token (PAT) for each API call.

To do create a PAT, navigate to your account settings, and then to Developer Settings and Personal Access Tokens. Exporting Advanced Security results requires the security_events scope, shown below.

The PAT scope required to export Advanced Security results

Note: Organisations which enforce SSO will require a secondary step where you log into your identity provider, like so:

Authorising for an SSO enabled Org

Now that we have a PAT, we need to build the basic authorisation API headers as per the GitHub documentation.

  $GITHUB_USERNAME = "james-westall_demo-org"
  $GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN = "supersecurepersonalaccesstoken"
  $bytes = [System.Text.Encoding]::ASCII.GetBytes($credential)
  $base64 = [System.Convert]::ToBase64String($bytes)
  $basicAuthValue = "Basic $base64"
  $headers = @{ Authorization = $basicAuthValue }

Exporting Advanced Security results for a single repository

Once we have an appropriately configured auth header, calling the API to retreive results is really simple! Set your values for API endpoint, organisation and repo and you’re ready to go!

  $HOST_NAME = ""
  $GITHUB_OWNER = "demo-org"
  $GITHUB_REPO = "demo-repo"

  $response = Invoke-RestMethod -FollowRelLink -Method Get -UseBasicParsing -Headers $headers -Uri https://$HOST_NAME/repos/$GITHUB_OWNER/$GITHUB_REPO/code-scanning/alerts

  $finalResult += $response | %{$_}

The above code is pretty straight forward, with the URL being built by providing the “owner” and repo name. One thing we found a little unclear in the doco was who the owner is. For a personal public repo this is obvious, but for our Github EMU deployment we had to set this as the organisation instead of the creating user.
Once we have a URI, we call the API endpoint with our auth headers for a standard REST response. Finally, we parse the result to a nicer object format (due to the way Invoke-RestMethod -FollowRelLink parameter works).

The outcome we quickly achieve using the above is a PowerShell object which can be exported to parsable JSON or CSV formats!

Exported Advanced Security Results
Once you have a PowerShell Object, this can be exported to a tool of your choice

Exporting Advanced Security results for an entire organisation

Depending on the scope of your analysis, you might want to export all the results for your GitHub organisation – This is possible, however it does require elevated access, being that your account is an administrator or security administrator for the org.

  $HOST_NAME = ""
  $GITHUB_ORG = "demo-org"

  $response = Invoke-RestMethod -FollowRelLink -Method Get -UseBasicParsing -Headers $headers -Uri https://$HOST_NAME/orgs/$GITHUB_ORG/code-scanning/alerts

  $finalResult += $response | %{$_}

Easy management of Github Wikis with Actions

Recently Arinco has made an internal move to GitHub Enterprise for some of our code storage. For the most part, this has been a seamless process. All of our code is agnostic, and we support customers using both Azure DevOps and GitHub already. While supporting this move, some consideration was made for how best to manage documentation – We’ve found the Azure DevOps wiki feature to be extremely useful. It provides a suitable UI for business users to modify documentation, while also enabling developer friendly markdown. Github provides a similar capability using its own wiki feature.

On investigating the process for wiki usage within GitHub, we noticed an interesting difference to Azure DevOps – GitHub stores wiki files in a separate repo. This can be quickly seen when you navigate to the wiki tab and are presented with a second git URL to clone.

Our extra GitHub wiki repository
Another repo to manage? No thanks.

Now while this works in the same manner as Azure DevOps for developer/business scenarios, managing two repositories is annoying. Git does support adding the wiki as a submodule, however developers are required to complete a double commit and to some, the submodule UI on GitHub is a bit clunky.

To solve this challenge, we turned to the community, specifically looking for a pre-canned GitHub Action.
Thankfully this isn’t a new complaint from the community and SwiftDoc had already created an action. After setting up a PAT and running couple of tests with this, we found some behaviour annoying on the developer side. Specifically that files are not deleted, only created and directory structure is not preserved. And so, we have a slightly modified action:

name: Update Wiki
    branches: [ main ]
      - 'wiki/**'
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - name: update wiki data
          WIKI_DIR: wiki
        run: |
          echo $GITHUB_ACTOR
          WIKI_COMMIT_MESSAGE='Automatically publish wiki'
          echo "Checking out wiki repository"
          tmp_dir=$(mktemp -d -t ci-XXXXXXXXXX)
              cd "$tmp_dir" || exit 1
              git init
              git config $GITHUB_ACTOR
              git config $
              git pull "$GIT_REPOSITORY_URL"
              echo "Removing Files, ensuring deletion."
              rm -r -f ./*
          ) || exit 1

          echo "Copying contents of $WIKI_DIR"
          cp -R $WIKI_DIR "$tmp_dir"
          echo "Committing and pushing changes"
              cd "$tmp_dir" || exit 1
              git add .
              git commit -m "$WIKI_COMMIT_MESSAGE"
              git push --set-upstream "$GIT_REPOSITORY_URL" master
          ) || exit 1

          rm -rf "$tmp_dir"

This action doesn’t really cater as well for the business/developer split (files created in the GUI will be deleted), but for us, this works just fine and isn’t annoying. Until next time, stay cloudy!