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Product Vision - Secure

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Secure Section Overview

GitLab's Secure tools will be available throughout your application lifecycle in the relevant places at the appropriate time to help your team follow and enforce security best practices. Secure is not an additional step in your process, it is not an additional tool, it is woven into your DevOps cycle. We desire to play well with other vendors so that you can decide if your risk profile dictates that you wish to replace one of our offerings and use another more advanced scan, or perhaps you will run our tools first and use theirs only on a specific cadence.



Working with other security tools

At GitLab we believe everyone can contribute. We also want to play well with others. GitLab ships with its own security scanning tools which support Container Scanning, Dependency Scanning, Static and Dynamic Application Security Testing, and more. However, we recognize many of our users have existing tools for performing various categories of security scans. That's why we support efforts by any scanning tool to integrate the results of their scanners with our code, our Merge Request security reports and Dashboard tools. We are equally happy to have alternate tools either replace, or augment, our Secure tools.

We plan to enable tooling and directions so that any tool can add the required APIs and webhooks in order to complete a sucessful integration. Users will be able to walk through integration steps, entering in the provided information, in a consistent and simple way in order to enable these integrations. For certain partners we will work closely together to build premier integrations to enable the highest-quality and simplest integration experience possible.

Although we strive to make many features available in Core, we will reserve certain features within categories for specific tiers based on the target buyer for that capability.

If you are interested in contributing such an integration, please create an issue so we can collaborate on questions and adding any enabling functionality.

Vision Themes

Theme: Enable Security in Depth

Theme: Make adding security at all phases of CI/CD boring

Theme: Educate all our users about security

Theme: Security is everyone's responsibility

3 Year Strategy

What's Next for Secure

Security Paradigm

We want to provide feedback during development and before your application is in production to reduce production vulnerabilities, and to reduce cycle time of releases by providing relevant point in time information. Think back on the recent breaches in the news, in most cases these were not the result of complex attacks, but rather teams who were unable for a variety of reasons to strictly follow best practices. We plan to assist you and your team to cover these, so your Security teams time and energy can focus on the more unique and advanced problems that you face in your risk profile, rather than spending time on things that are low hanging fruit.

The approach is to support decision makers, not to replace them. Instead of enforcing security, we want to give a very simple way to take the right action, and learn from it. Keeping it simple is a key value to prevent security features from being considered at all because they require more effort than the perceived benefit.

Our tools will help provide security in depth for your application, will cover the most common vulnerabilities, and the strongly recommended security basics. The results and recommendations of our secure tools will be made available at the relevant time, as well as through a variety of methods such as an API so that the information can be used at the time and in the way that works best for your team.

Tools are actionable: it means that users can interact with them and provide feedback about their content. When triaging vulnerabilities, users can confirm (creating an issue to solve the problem), or dismiss them (in case they are false positives and there is no further action to take). This information will be collected to improve the signal-to-noise ratio that the tool could provide in future executions.

We want to allow your team the choices to set your risk level as is appropriate to your business. Even accurate results may be considered false positives as this is dependent on many details about both your application and your environment. By default our tools will never block a merge request or pipeline.

Our tools should be easy to use, and assist your team in making secure decisions with the minimal amount of effort and steps. Our findings should be informational enough to enable prioritizing and acting on findings in a way that works with your desired workflows and doesn’t result in users disabling or ignoring the checks, preventing the benefit.


There are a few product categories that are critical for success here; each one is intended to represent what you might find as an entire product out in the market. We want our single application to solve the important problems solved by other tools in this space - if you see an opportunity where we can deliver a specific solution that would be enough for you to switch over to GitLab, please reach out to the PM for this stage and let us know.

Each of these categories has a designated level of maturity; you can read more about our category maturity model to help you decide which categories you want to start using and when.


Static Application Security Testing scans the application source code and binaries to spot potential vulnerabilities before deployment using open source tools that are installed as part of GitLab. Vulnerabilities are shown in-line with every merge request and results are collected and presented as a single report. This category is at the "viable" level of maturity.



Dynamic Application Security Testing analyzes your running web application for known runtime vulnerabilities. It runs live attacks against a Review App, created for every merge request as part of the GitLab's CI/CD capabilities. Users can provide HTTP credentials to test private areas. Vulnerabilities are shown in-line with every merge request. This category is at the "viable" level of maturity.


Secret Detection

Check for credentials and secrets in commits. This category is at the "minimal" level of maturity.



Interactive application security testing checks runtime behavior of applications by instrumenting the code and checking for error conditions. It is composed by an agent that lives inside the application environment, and an external component, like DAST, that can interact and trigger unintended results. This category is planned, but not yet available.



Fuzzy testing increase chances to get results by using arbitrary payloads instead of well-known ones. This category is planned, but not yet available.


Dependency Scanning

Analyze external dependencies (e.g. libraries like Ruby gems) for known vulnerabilities on each code commit with GitLab CI/CD. This scan relies on open source tools and on the integration with Gemnasium technology (now part of GitLab) to show, in-line with every merge request, vulnerable dependencies needing updating. Results are collected and available as a single report. This category is at the "viable" level of maturity.


Container Scanning

Check Docker images for known vulnerabilities in the application environment. Analyze image contents against public vulnerability databases using the open source tool, Clair, that is able to scan any kind of Docker (or App) image. Vulnerabilities are shown in-line with every merge request. This category is at the "viable" level of maturity.


License Compliance

Upon code commit, project dependencies are searched for approved and blacklisted licenses defined by custom policies per project. Software licenses being used are identified if they are not within policy. This scan relies on an open source tool, LicenseFinder and license analysis results are shown in-line for every merge request for immediate resolution. This category is at the "minimal" level of maturity.


Vulnerability Database

GitLab integrates access to proprietary and open-source application security scanning tools. In order to maintain the efficacy of those scans, we strive to keep their underlying vulnerability databases up-to-date.



Other top-level features

In the Secure stage there are features that are cross-category. They allow Security Teams and Developers to manage security with a holistic approach. The prioritization of a security issue doesn't fully depend on the type of vulnerability, but on its severity and so which is the impact on the application.

That's why we want to create features where vulnerabilities are in one single place, no matter if they are coming from SAST, Dependency Scanning, Container Scanning, etc.

Auto Remediation

When a vulnerability is automatically detected by GitLab, users can be aware of that using the Security Dashboard or looking at security reports. But this still requires manual intervention to create a fix and push it to production, and during this time there is a vulnerable window where attackers can leverage the vulnerability.

Auto Remediation aims to automate vulnerability solution flow, and automatically create a fix. The fix is then tested, and if it passes all the tests already defined for the application, it is deployed to production.

GitLab can then monitor performances of the deployed app, and revert all the changes in case performances are decreasing dramatically, warning the user about the entire process and reducing the need for manual actions.

Read more in this epic.

Slides are available here.

Security Dashboards

Security Dashboards, available at group and project level, are the primary tool for Security Teams and Directors of Security. They can use those dashboards to access the current security status of their applications, and to start a remediation process from here.

The dashboard is also giving stats and charts to figure out how the team is performing to keep the security level to a proper level.

Bill of materials

Software is often based on many components that are reused. Every modern programming language makes it easy to pull and use external libraries via package managers. There is a growing need to know exactly what is included in the final app, and the relevant information about those third-party components, like the version number, the license, and the security status.

The bill of materials (BOM) makes this information available and accessible, so compliance can perform validation that the app can be released and deployed.

Read more in this epic.

DevOps coverage

The classic DevOps includes security testing as an activity in the Verify stage.

GitLab has a broader approach. That's why we introduced a Secure stage that is transversal to all other Dev stages.

Our Product Vision aims to increase the security coverage for all these stages in the DevOps lifecycle: Plan, Create, Verify, and Package.

This is possible because GitLab is a single application.

There are many advantages coming from complete coverage of all these stages with security features. It allows to shift-left security at a very early stage, even before the first lines of code are committed. If you start with security as a priority when you plan a new app, it is easier than just trying to add security later. Security should remain on the radar even when the create process happens, to support developers and help them to write secure code from the beginning. Security testing can then happen for any change, before it is merged into the stable branch of the application: in this way you can spot problems and fix them before they risk affecting the production environment or the stable version of your app. Packaging the app should also be done with security in mind, as well as the release process to the production environment: at that point, your code is publicly available and any remediation will impact heavily on your processes.

Security is a never-ending priority, and at GitLab we want to make it easy for our users to manage it.

Target audience

Security teams

We want to support security teams as first class citizens. GitLab should be their primary tool to manage monitoring and remediation of security issues. Using the Security Dashboard security specialists know exactly which is the most important thing they need to take care of, while Directors of Security can manage workflows and analyze historical data to figure out how to improve the response time.

This is a vulnerability-centric approach where items are grouped and ordered to suggest what's most important in a group, or in the entire instance.


Nonetheless, we want to support developers and provide feedback during the application development. Security Reports in merge request widgets and pipelines allow early access to security information that can be used to fix problems even before they are merged into the stable branch or released to the public, embracing the idea of shift left testing.

This approach is valuable to highlight how specific changes could affect the security of the application.


We expect that in most of the cases the number of potential security issues will be high, and we don't want that users will struggle in figuring out which is the impact of any possible item for their environment. That's why GitLab will prioritize security vulnerabilities based on different factors. The value given with this process is defined as the impact.

These are examples of factors that may contribute to define the impact for a specific security issue:


Ultimate/Gold subscribers

For now, security features are available in the Ultimate/Gold tier because we think that security matters for everyone, but automation of security in the development lifecycle is more valuable for organizations who want to optimize their DevOps investment to run securely at the highest business velocity.

Public projects on

Every project on with public visibility can benefit of all the security features for free, even if it doesn't have a Gold license.

Nevertheless, public groups can benefit of group security features (like the Group Security Dashboard only if they have a Gold license.


We also want to collect and provide metrics to better understand how the security workflow is performing. For example, the overall time taken to deploy a fix for a vulnerability once spotted could be useful for flow improvements.

Prioritization Process

Every month, a couple of weeks before the start of the development cycle, the team meets to plan what will be done in the upcoming milestone. Decisions are based on our general prioritization principles, and we specifically consider case by case what is most important to do next, since we always have so many awesome ideas but we have to choose what has to be done first.

The PM maintains a product roadmap for the next three milestones and beyond, to ensure that we are focusing on important things ahead of time and we can prepare them properly. We are always ready to adjust our plans and we normally commit only to issues that are scheduled for the current release: this is very important in order to guarantee that we can be fast enough to react to unexpected events.

We want everybody to be part of our prioritization process, that's why all the information is public. We encourage team members, customer, and the community to give feedback and to share what they consider very important to focus on in the future. This is a valuable help to make GitLab a great product.

Upcoming Releases

12.5 (2019-11-22)

12.6 (2019-12-22)

12.7 (2020-01-22)

Other Interesting Items

There are a number of other issues that we've identified as being interesting that we are potentially thinking about, but do not currently have planned by setting a milestone for delivery. Some are good ideas we want to do, but don't yet know when; some we may never get around to, some may be replaced by another idea, and some are just waiting for that right spark of inspiration to turn them into something special.

Remember that at GitLab, everyone can contribute! This is one of our fundamental values and something we truly believe in, so if you have feedback on any of these items you're more than welcome to jump into the discussion. Our vision and product are truly something we build together!