Easy alert triaging for GitHub Dependabot

Rob Bos
by Rob Bos
31 Oct, 2023
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Dependabot alerts triaging in GitHub

The GitHub UI displays a couple of helpful tips to use in triaging your Dependabot alerts which are super helpful. Unfortunately the User Interface does not show these filters in the filter bar yet, so I wanted to have a better overview of the filters I could use. I’ve listed them below:  

Only show alerts where your code is using the vulnerable calls of the dependency

This is very helpful in triaging the open alerts. Currently in limited preview for certain languages and certain package ecosystems. I hope they will expand this to more languages and package ecosystems. Instead of wading through all the open alerts where your code might (currently!) not call into the vulnerable part of the dependency code, you can filter down the list of alerts to the things you are calling. Use this filter:
  • is:open has:vulnerable-calls

Filter on Dependabot auto dismissal

Dependabot now has new functionality to auto dismiss alerts that have low or medium severity. This is a great way to reduce the noise in your alerts list so you can filter on the important issues. You can filter on these alerts with this filter:
  • is:closed resolution:auto-dismissed

Filter on only runtime dependencies

This is a great way to filter out the development dependencies from the runtime dependencies. This is the case for example when you use NPM as a package manager. You can use this filter to only show the runtime dependencies:
  • is:open scope:runtime 
Do make sure that you are not accidentally publishing to production with development dependencies. This is a common mistake that can lead to security issues, as the files are then still on disk, and could be used as an attack vector.

Filter on vulnerable dependencies where a patch is available

This is helpful to focus on quick wins. Since there is a patch available that fixes the vulnerability, getting these dependencies upgraded can lead to fast results. You can use this filter to only show the alerts where a patch is available:
  • is:open has:patch
Rob Bos
Rob has a strong focus on ALM and DevOps, automating manual tasks and helping teams deliver value to the end-user faster, using DevOps techniques. This is applied on anything Rob comes across, whether it’s an application, infrastructure, serverless or training environments. Additionally, Rob focuses on the management of production environments, including dashboarding, usage statistics for product owners and stakeholders, but also as part of the feedback loop to the developers. A lot of focus goes to GitHub and GitHub Actions, improving the security of applications and DevOps pipelines. Rob is a Trainer (Azure + GitHub), a Microsoft MVP and a LinkedIn Learning Instructor.

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