What is Gitleaks?

Gitleaks is a powerful, open-source tool designed for developers and security professionals to detect and prevent security vulnerabilities in their codebase. It scans repositories for secrets like passwords, API keys, and tokens. Gitleaks is adept at scanning a wide range of file types, including:

  • Source code files (.js, .py, .java, etc.)

  • Configuration files (.yml, .json, .xml)

  • Environment files (.env)

Installing Gitleaks

With Trunk Check, you can automatically install and configure Gitleaks along with any relevant linters in a few straightforward steps. Here's how:

First, if you haven't already installed Trunk CLI, you can do so with the command below:

1curl -fsSL | bash

Next, you can initialize Trunk from the root of your git repository:

1trunk init

This command will scan your repository and create a .trunk/trunk.yaml file that enables all linters, formatters, and security analyzers, recommended by Trunk Check. This includes Gitleaks if applicable to your project.

To see all available linters Trunk Check installed, simply run:

1trunk check list

If you find Gitleaks is not automatically enabled, you can do so by running:

1trunk check enable gitleaks

Alternatively, to disable Gitleaks run the command below. To disable other tooling applied by Trunk Check, simply replace gitleaks with the respective tool you're looking to disable.

1trunk check disable gitleaks

For more details on Trunk Check setup, see here.

Configuring Gitleaks

Gitleaks works out of the box with Trunk so there's no need to set up a custom configuration. However, one caveat with configuration is Gitleaks v7 only works with Go 1.16 while Gitleaks v8 works with 1.18. We highly recommend using v8, but if you specifically need to use v7 you can override the go runtime version like so:

2 enabled:
3 - go@1.16.7

Again, this is not recommended. In most scenarios, you should use Gitleaks v8 or later with go 1.18 or later.

If you're interested in other tooling outside of Gitleaks, check out our open-source repository to see how we define and support 90+ linters.

Running Gitleaks

To check your code with Gitleaks, run the command below. This command executes Gitleaks, along with any other linters Trunk Check has enabled on files you've modified. Since Trunk is git-aware, it knows what you've changed, and by adding batched execution and caching, you end up with a much faster and smoother way to run Gitleaks and other tools.

1trunk check

If you prefer to check files you've modified with Gitleaks only, run the following:

1trunk check --filter=gitleaks

Although we'd recommend against it depending on the size of your repository, you can check all files with Gitleaks by running the command below.

1trunk check --all --filter=gitleaks

In most scenarios, you'll want to execute against modified files. Since Trunk is git-aware, it knows what you've changed, and by adding batched execution and caching, you end up with a much faster and smoother way to run Gitleaks and other tools.

Updating Trunk Check & Gitleaks

To upgrade the Trunk CLI along with all plugins and linters in your trunk.yaml simply run:

1trunk upgrade

We highly recommend running on the latest validated versions of tools as updates will frequently include important security fixes and additional valuable checks. Trunk only auto-suggests linter upgrades to versions that we have tested and support, so you may see a slight lag time when a new linter version is released.

Upgrade will also recommend new tools that have become applicable since the last time your repository was scanned. This can be a result of using new technologies in your repository or Trunk itself adding support for more tools. If you don't like a particular recommendation you can always run trunk check disable <linter> to teach trunk not to recommend it.

Comparing Gitleaks and Trufflehog

Gitleaks and Trufflehog are great tools for secret detection within codebases. However, they both serve similar purposes and there's no need to have both enabled in your code repository. At the time of writing, we prioritize Trufflehog install over Gitleaks as it's frequently maintained and is more extensible

Gitleaks uses a dictionary of known regex patterns for secret detection. As a result, Gitleaks only focuses on secrets in code. If you're on Trufflehog's professional version, it scans for secrets across multiple surfaces like Linear, Slack, Jira, and more. Trufflehog also goes beyond simply identifying and assuming secrets. It will also verify potential secrets against known endpoints to see if it's truly a security risk.

You can also run Trufflehog with trufflehog-git to scan not just files but git commits as well. This mode of running will catch a leak even if you commit and revert a secret.

With all of this said, Gitleaks is still a great tool for secret detection. The above are just a few reasons why we prefer Trufflehog over Gitleaks.

Recommended Linters to Pair with Gitleaks

Pairing Gitleaks with linters enhances both code security and quality. Some recommended linters to integrate alongside Gitleaks are:

  • osv-scanner: Scans vulnerabilities listed in the Open Source Vulnerabilities (OSV) database.

  • Trivy: A vulnerability scanner for container images, file systems, and configuration files.

  • Nancy: Checks against the Sonatype OSS Index, ensuring your Go projects remain secure against known vulnerabilities.