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GitHub will demand you use a security key if you want to make project changes

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GitHub will disable password-only access to developers for conducting any Git operations that require authentication.

In a move first announced in December 2020, the change follows a similar, but limited move the month before in which GitHub, one of the largest public code repositories, deprecated the use of passwords for conducting authenticated Git operations via the REST API.

“As previously announced, starting on August 13, 2021, at 09:00 PST, we will no longer accept account passwords when authenticating Git operations on GitHub.com. Instead, token-based authentication (for example, personal access, OAuth, SSH Key, or GitHub App installation token) will be required for all authenticated Git operations,” read the brief announcement.

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However, the change wouldn’t have any impact on the workflow of developers who have enabled two-factor authentication (2FA), since it already meets the requirement of using a token-based on SSH-based authentication.

Securing access

In its earlier post, GitHub recounts the number of security mechanisms the platform has introduced over the years, such as 2FA, sign-in alerts, verified devices, WebAuthn support, and more, to give developers more options to secure access to their repositories. 

Explaining the need for phasing out the use of passwords for authentication, GitHub had argued that the move will help save the repositories from unauthorized users who might take advantage of a developer’s poor password hygiene, such as reusing passwords across multiple websites.

It reasoned that tokens don’t suffer from the same weaknesses as passwords and additionally offer a number of security benefits. For instance, tokens can be scoped to enable limited access, and can be revoked easily as well.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.