Documentation: define protected configuration

For security reasons, there are config variables that are only trusted
when they are specified in certain configuration scopes, which are
sometimes referred to on-list as 'protected configuration' [1]. A future
commit will introduce another such variable, so let's define our terms
so that we can have consistent documentation and implementation.

In our documentation, define 'protected configuration' as the system,
global and command config scopes. As a shorthand, I will refer to
variables that are only respected in protected configuration as
'protected configuration only', but this term is not used in the

This definition of protected configuration is based on whether or not
Git can reasonably protect the user by ignoring the configuration scope:

- System, global and command line config are considered protected
  because an attacker who has control over any of those can do plenty of
  harm without Git, so we gain very little by ignoring those scopes.

- On the other hand, local (and similarly, worktree) config are not
  considered protected because it is relatively easy for an attacker to
  control local config, e.g.:

  - On some shared user environments, a non-admin attacker can create a
    repository high up the directory hierarchy (e.g. C:\.git on
    Windows), and a user may accidentally use it when their PS1
    automatically invokes "git" commands.

    `` prevents attacks of this form by making sure that
    the user intended to use the shared repository. It obviously
    shouldn't be read from the repository, because that would end up
    trusting the repository that Git was supposed to reject.

  - "git upload-pack" is expected to run in repositories that may not be
    controlled by the user. We cannot ignore all config in that
    repository (because "git upload-pack" would fail), but we can limit
    the risks by ignoring `uploadpack.packObjectsHook`.

Only `uploadpack.packObjectsHook` is 'protected configuration only'. The
following variables are intentionally excluded:

- `` should be 'protected configuration only', but it does
  not technically fit the definition because it is not respected in the
  "command" scope. A future commit will fix this.

- `trace2.*` happens to read the same scopes as `` because
  they share an implementation. However, this is not for security
  reasons; it is because we want to start tracing so early that
  repository-level config and "-c" are not available [2].

  This requirement is unique to `trace2.*`, so it does not makes sense
  for protected configuration to be subject to the same constraints.

[1] For example,

Signed-off-by: Glen Choo <>
Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
Glen Choo 2 months ago committed by Junio C Hamano
parent 5f5af3735d
commit 779ea9303a
  1. 6
  2. 13

@ -49,9 +49,9 @@ uploadpack.packObjectsHook::
`pack-objects` to the hook, and expects a completed packfile on
Note that this configuration variable is ignored if it is seen in the
repository-level config (this is a safety measure against fetching from
untrusted repositories).
Note that this configuration variable is only respected when it is specified
in protected configuration (see <<SCOPES>>). This is a safety measure
against fetching from untrusted repositories.
If this option is set, `upload-pack` will support partial

@ -341,6 +341,7 @@ specifying the path of a file with the `--file` option, or by specifying a
configuration scope with `--system`, `--global`, `--local`, or `--worktree`.
For more, see <<OPTIONS>> above.
@ -379,6 +380,18 @@ Most configuration options are respected regardless of the scope it is
defined in, but some options are only respected in certain scopes. See the
respective option's documentation for the full details.
Protected configuration
Protected configuration refers to the 'system', 'global', and 'command' scopes.
For security reasons, certain options are only respected when they are
specified in protected configuration, and ignored otherwise.
Git treats these scopes as if they are controlled by the user or a trusted
administrator. This is because an attacker who controls these scopes can do
substantial harm without using Git, so it is assumed that the user's environment
protects these scopes against attackers.