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Introducing even more security enhancements to npm

New npm security enhancements include an improved login and publish experience with the npm CLI, connected GitHub and Twitter accounts, and a new CLI command to verify the integrity of packages in npm.

Introducing even more security enhancements to npm
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The JavaScript community downloads over 5 billion packages from npm a day, and we at GitHub recognize how important it is that developers can do so with confidence. As stewards of the npm registry, it’s important that we continue to invest in improvements that increase developer trust and the overall security of the registry itself.

Today, we are announcing the general availability of an enhanced 2FA experience on npm, as well as sharing additional investments we’ve made to the verification process of accounts and packages.

The following improvements to npm are available today, including:

  • A streamlined login and publishing experience with the npm CLI.
  • The ability to connect GitHub and Twitter accounts to npm.
  • All packages on npm have been re-signed and we’ve added a new npm CLI command to audit package integrity.

Streamlined login and publishing experience

Account security is significantly improved by adopting 2FA, but if the experience adds too much friction, we can’t expect customers to adopt it. We recently announced a variety of enhancements to the npm registry to make 2FA adoption easier for developers—in a public beta release. Early adopters of our new 2FA experience shared feedback around the process of logging in and publishing with the npm CLI, and we recognized there was room for improvement. Our initial design was created to be backwards compatible with npm 6 and other clients; in fact the Yarn project was able to backport support for our new experience to Yarn 1 in less than 10 lines of code!

We’ve been hard at work making the CLI experience better than ever based on this feedback, and the improved login and publish experience is now available in npm 8.15.0 today. With the new experience, users will benefit from:

  • Login and publish authentication are managed in the browser.
  • Login can use an existing session only prompting for your second factor or email verification OTP to create a new session.
  • Publish now supports “remember me for 5 minutes” and allows for subsequent publishes from the same IP + access token to avoid the 2FA prompt for a 5-minute period. This is especially useful when publishing from a npm workspace.

It is currently opt-in with the --auth-type=web flag and will be the default experience in npm 9.


npm login --auth-type=web npm publish --auth-type=web

npm login --auth-type=web

These improved experiences will make it easier for users to secure their accounts. A secure account is the beginning of a secure ecosystem. Check out our documentation to learn more about 2FA in npm.

Connecting GitHub and Twitter Accounts to npm

 

Screenshot of account recovery options on npm

Developers have been able to include their GitHub and Twitter handles on their npm profiles for almost as long as npm accounts have been available. This data has been helpful to connect the identity of an account on npm to an identity on other platforms; however this data has historically been a free-form text field that wasn’t validated or verified.

That’s why today we are launching the ability to link your npm account to your GitHub and Twitter accounts. Linking of these accounts is performed via official integrations with both GitHub and Twitter and ensures that verified account data are included on npm profiles moving forward. We will no longer be showing the previously unverified GitHub or Twitter data on public user profiles, making it possible for developers to audit identities and trust that an account is who they say they are.

Having a verified link between your identities across platforms significantly improves our ability to do account recovery. This new verified data lays the foundation for automating identity verification as part of account recovery. Over time, we will deprecate this legacy data, but we will continue to honor it for now to ensure that customers do not get locked out of their accounts.

You can verify your packages locally with npm audit signatures

Until today npm users have had to rely on a multi-step process to validate the signature of npm packages. This PGP based process was both complex and required users to have knowledge on cryptographic tools which provided a poor developer experience. Developers relying on this existing process should soon start using the new “audit signatures” command. The PGP keys are set to expire early next year with more details to follow.

Recently, we began work to re-sign all npm packages with new signatures relying on the secure ECDSA algorithm and using an HSM for key management, and you can now rely on this signature to verify the integrity of the packages you install from npm.

We have introduced a new audit signatures command in npm CLI version 8.13.0 and above.

Example of a successful audit signature verification

Example of a successful audit signature verification

The below sample GitHub Actions workflow with audit signature in action.

name: npm Package

on:
  release:
    types: [created]

jobs:
  build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
     - uses: actions/checkout@v3

     - uses: actions/setup-node@v3
       with:
        node-version: 16.x
        registry-url: 'https://registry.npmjs.org'

     - run: npm install -g npm

     - run: npm ci

     - run: npm audit signatures

     - run: npm test

     - run: npm publish
       env:
        NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{secrets.npm_token}}

What’s next?

Our primary goal continues to be protecting the npm registry, and our next major milestone will be enforcing 2FA for all high-impact accounts, those that manage packages with more than 1 million weekly downloads or 500 dependents, tripling the number of accounts we will require to adopt a second factor. Prior to this enforcement we will be making even more improvements to our account recovery process, including introducing additional forms of identity verification and automating as much of the process as possible.

Learn more about these features by visiting our documentation:

For questions and comments, open a discussion in our feedback repository.

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