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How to Remove an API Key From a Git Commit

You’re not alone if you’re concerned about accidentally exposing sensitive data. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to remove an API key from a Git commit before it reaches the public repository. Let’s get started!

Method One: Using the Git Command Line Tool

The git command line tool is a powerful and versatile tool for managing and working with Git repositories. It includes several commands for manipulating and cleaning up Git commits, including the ability to remove sensitive information from a commit.

You will need to use the filter-branch command to remove an API key from a Git commit using git. This command allows you to rewrite Git history by filtering various commits.

Here is the basic syntax for using the filter-branch command to remove an API key from a Git commit:

git filter-branch --tree-filter '<command>' <commit range>

The tree-filter option specifies the filter to apply to the tree objects in the specified range of commits. Here’s where you will specify the command for removing the API key. Also, the commit range parameter sets the range of commits to which the filter will be applied.

To remove sensitive data like an API key from a Git commit, you will need to use the sed command to search for and replace the API key in the commit files. Embrace the sed command! It’s a powerful tool for searching and replacing text in files.

Here’s an example of using the sed command to remove sensitive data like an API key from a Git commit:

git filter-branch --tree-filter "sed -i 's/<api key>/<placeholder>/g' *" <commit range>

In this example, the sed command searches for the API key specified by <api key> and replaces it with the placeholder set by <placeholder>. This placeholder can be any string that is not the API key.

The -i option tells sed to edit the files in place, replacing the API key in the commit files. Then, the * wildcard tells sed to apply the search and replace operation to all files in the commit.

Once you have run the filter-branch command, you will need to force-push the changes to your Git repository using the git push command. This will overwrite the existing Git history with the new, edited version.

This is an example of using the git push command to force-push the changes to your Git repository:

git push origin <branch> --force

Above, you’ll notice the origin is the name of the remote repository and <branch> is the name of the branch to which the changes will be pushed. Also, the —force option is used to force-push the changes, overwriting the existing Git history. And that’s the gist of method one.

Method Two: Using BFG Repo-Cleaner

So, what’s a BFG Repo-Cleaner you might be asking?

A BFG Repo-Cleaner is a tool for cleaning up Git repositories. It’s designed to be fast and easy to use and can help you remove sensitive data from your repository fast and with little effort. Trust this handy method for removing large files and problematic file histories that can cause issues with your repository. Here’s how to do it:

First, download and install BFG Repo-Cleaner. You can find instructions for doing so on the BFG Repo-Cleaner website.

Next, navigate to the directory containing your Git repository in a terminal or command prompt.

Then, run the following command to clone your repository using BFG Repo-Cleaner:

bfg --delete-files api-key.txt my-repo.git

This will clone your repository and remove sensitive data like files named api-key.txt. Be sure to replace api-key.txt with the name of the file containing your API key.

Once BFG Repo-Cleaner has finished cloning your repository, run the following command to push the changes back to your remote repository:

git push

That’s it! Your API key should now be removed from your repository and your sensitive data will be secure.

Removing an API key from a Git commit can be a fairly simple process depending on the specific situation. As we’ve seen above, the key can be removed with little effort. However, if you’ve committed an API key to a public repository, it’s best to assume that it’s already been cloned. You should remove sensitive data like the API key, if possible, and use a new one.

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