code-scanning

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On March 30, 2022, we released CodeQL Action v2, which runs on the Node.js 16 runtime. In April 2022, we announced that CodeQL Action v1 would be deprecated at the same time as GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) 3.3.
This deprecation period has elapsed and starting January 18, 2023, CodeQL Action v1 is now discontinued.
It will no longer be updated or supported, and while we will not be deleting it except in the case of a security vulnerability, workflows using it may eventually break.
New CodeQL analysis capabilities will only be available to users of v2.

For more information about this deprecation, please see the original deprecation announcement from April 2022.

How does this affect me?

If you use code scanning with CodeQL on any of the following platforms, you should update your workflow file(s) to use CodeQL Action v2 as soon as possible:

  • GitHub.com (including open source repositories, users of GitHub Teams and GitHub Enterprise Cloud)
  • GHES 3.4.13 and later

Users of GHES 3.4.12 or earlier: please read this section in the original deprecation announcement.

What do I need to change in my workflow?

To upgrade to the CodeQL Action v2, open your CodeQL workflow file(s) in the .github/workflows directory of your repository and look for references to:

  • github/codeql-action/init@v1
  • github/codeql-action/autobuild@v1
  • github/codeql-action/analyze@v1
  • github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v1

These entries need to be replaced with their v2 equivalents:

  • github/codeql-action/init@v2
  • github/codeql-action/autobuild@v2
  • github/codeql-action/analyze@v2
  • github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v2

If you use a pinned version of the CodeQL Action in your workflows, for example github/codeql-action/init@32be38e, check the latest Actions workflow run summary on your repository.
If you see a warning stating that you are running CodeQL Action v1, then please update your workflow to reference v2 or alternatively the latest github/codeql-action commit tagged v2.

Can I use Dependabot to help me with this upgrade?

All users on GitHub.com, and GHES customers using GitHub Advanced Security with a local copy of github/codeql-action, can use Dependabot to automatically upgrade their Actions dependencies.
For more details on how to set this up, please see this page.

GHES customers should also make sure:

See more

Code scanning can now be easily setup with a few button clicks, and without committing a workflow file to the repository.

Code scanning's new default setup feature automatically finds and sets up the best CodeQL configuration for your repository. This will detect the languages in the repository and enable CodeQL analysis for every pull request and every push to the default branch and any protected branches. Default setup currently supports analysis of JavaScript (including TypeScript), Python, and Ruby code. More languages will be supported soon, and all other languages supported by CodeQL continue to work using a GitHub Actions workflow file.

The new default setup feature is available for CodeQL on repositories that use GitHub Actions. You can use default setup on your repository's "Settings" tab under "Code security and analysis" (accessible by repository admins and security managers).

Screenshot of code scanning's new _default setup_

The options to set up code scanning using an Actions workflow file or through API upload from 3rd party CI/CD systems remain supported and are unchanged. This more advanced setup method can be useful if you need to alter the default configuration, for example to include custom query packs. Default setup configurations can also be converted to advanced setups if your analysis requirements change.

Default setup is currently available at the repository level. We are actively working on future features at the organization level so you can easily set up code scanning at scale across large numbers of repositories.

This has shipped to GitHub.com and will be available in GitHub Enterprise Server 3.9. To learn more, read the documentation on setting up code scanning for a repository.

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The deprecation date for the CodeQL Action v1 is shifting. Initially, this was December 2022, and now it is January 2023. This change follows the updated timeline on the deprecation of GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) 3.3.

In January 2023, the CodeQL Action v1 will be officially deprecated (alongside GHES 3.3). GitHub Action workflows that refer to v1 of the CodeQL Action will continue to work, but no new analysis capabilities will be released to v1. New CodeQL analysis capabilities will only be available to users of v2. For more information about this deprecation and detailed upgrade instructions, please see the original deprecation announcement from April 2022.

All users of GitHub code scanning (which by default uses the CodeQL analysis engine) on GitHub Actions on the following platforms should update their workflow files:

Environments in which CodeQL runs in CI/CD systems other than GitHub Actions are not affected by this deprecation.

See more

GitHub organizations can now use the code scanning organization-level API endpoint to retrieve code scanning alerts on public repositories; this no longer requires a GitHub Advanced Security license. This new endpoint supplements the existing repository-level endpoint.

Learn more about the code scanning organization-level REST API.

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Starting today, GitHub code scanning includes beta support for analyzing code written in Kotlin, powered by the CodeQL engine.

Kotlin is a key programming language used in the creation of Android mobile applications, and is an increasingly popular choice for new projects, augmenting or even replacing Java. To help organisations and open source developers find potential vulnerabilities in their code, we’ve added Kotlin support (beta) to the CodeQL engine that powers GitHub code scanning. CodeQL now natively supports Kotlin, as well as mixed Java and Kotlin projects. Set up code scanning on your repositories today to receive actionable security alerts right on your pull-requests. To enable Kotlin analysis on a repository, configure the code scanning workflow languages to include java. If you have any feedback or questions, please use this discussion thread or open an issue if you encounter any problems.

Kotlin support is an extension of our existing Java support, and benefits from all of our existing CodeQL queries for Java, for both mobile and server-side applications. We’ve also improved and added a range of mobile-specific queries, covering issues such as handling of Intents, Webview validation problems, fragment injection and more.

CodeQL support for Kotlin has already been used to identify novel real-world vulnerabilities in popular apps, from task management to productivity platforms. You can watch the GitHub Universe talk on how CodeQL was used to identify vulnerabilities like these here.

Kotlin beta support is available by default in GitHub.com code scanning, the CodeQL CLI, and the CodeQL extension for VS Code. GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) version 3.8 will include this beta release.

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You can now filter results from the code scanning REST API based on alert severity. Use the parameter severity to return only code scanning alerts with a specific severity. This is available at the repository and organization level.

This feature is available on GitHub.com, and will also be included in GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) version 3.8.

Read more about the code scanning API

See more

Last year, we launched Ruby analysis support in beta for GitHub code scanning. Today, we're announcing the general availability of this feature — covering even more vulnerabilities in Ruby code.

Ruby is part of the top 10 most popular languages on GitHub today. In the past year alone, code scanning (powered by the CodeQL engine) helped Ruby developers resolve more than 4,000 security issues. Set up code scanning on your repositories today and receive actionable security alerts right on your pull-requests.

Since shipping in beta, our Ruby analysis has more than doubled the number of common weaknesses (CWEs) that it can detect. A total of 30 rules check your code for a range of vulnerabilities, including cross-site scripting (XSS), regular expression denial-of-service (ReDoS), SQL injection, and more. Additional library and framework coverage for Ruby-on-Rails ensures that web service developers get even more precise results. We currently support all common Ruby versions, up to and including 3.1. Check out the documentation for more details on compatibility.

Ruby support is available by default in GitHub.com code scanning, the CodeQL CLI, and the CodeQL extension for VS Code. GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) version 3.4 shipped with Ruby (beta) support, and GHES 3.8 will include this GA release.

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CodeQL comes with a built-in package manager that helps you share and manage custom queries. Last year, we announced the public beta of CodeQL packaging — including direct integration into GitHub code scanning. This makes it easier to roll out custom queries to your repositories and gives you full control over exactly which queries are run.

This functionality will soon be released for users of GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES): it will be available with GHES 3.7. This release also includes support for using packs that are published to GitHub Container Registries (GHCR) hosted on GHES.

How do I use CodeQL query packs in code scanning?

To use CodeQL query packs in code scanning, specify a with: packs: entry in the uses: github/codeql-action/init@v2 section of your code scanning workflow. By default code scanning downloads packs the from GHCR on GitHub.com, so if you want to run one of the standard CodeQL query packs or any other public CodeQL query pack, then simply include the pack scope/name and version requirements here. You can find the full documentation here.

If you want to run packs from the GHCR on GHES, then you need to tell code scanning how to access and authenticate to the appropriate registry. For an example of how to do this in your code scanning workflow, see Downloading CodeQL packs from GitHub Enterprise Server in the GitHub documentation.

How do I publish my own CodeQL packs?

You can publish you own CodeQL packs using the CodeQL CLI. By default, the CodeQL CLI publishes packs to the GHCR on GitHub.com. If you want to publish packs to the GHCR associated with your instance of GHES, you need to tell the CodeQL CLI how to access and authenticate to the registry you want to work with. For a full example of how to specify these details, see Working with CodeQL packs on GitHub Enterprise Server in the CodeQL CLI documentation.

Where can I find more information about CodeQL packaging and code scanning?

This changelog post only provides a brief summary of how you can use CodeQL packs in code scanning. For more information, see:

See more

CodeQL now officially supports customizing the build configuration for Go analysis in the Actions workflow file. This aligns the Go configuration experience with the C/C++, C#, and Java analysis. The new customization options allow for more flexibility, for example when the build fails, or if analysis is desired on different source files.

All your existing CodeQL workflows for Go analysis will continue to work and continue to be supported. You don’t need to take any action to keep Go analysis running.

Example Actions workflow steps using Go build customization

steps:
  - name: Checkout repository
    uses: actions/checkout@v3

  - name: Initialize CodeQL
    uses: github/codeql-action/init@v2
    with:
      languages: go

  - name: Build code
    run:
      # You can modify these commands or add new commands to customize the build process
      make bootstrap
      make release

  - name: Perform CodeQL Analysis
    uses: github/codeql-action/analyze@v2

Learn more about CodeQL and code scanning.

See more

We have started creating and storing CodeQL databases for the most popular open-source projects on GitHub.com. If you use CodeQL for security research, you can now obtain these databases easily and directly through the CodeQL extension for Visual Studio Code, which makes it much easier to write and run your own custom CodeQL queries.

Using CodeQL for security research

The CodeQL engine powers GitHub code scanning: it analyses source code and flags up potential security problems (for example, in pull requests). By default, code scanning runs a large set of open source queries that are able to identify the most important and common security problems.

CodeQL is also a powerful tool for variant analysis and other types of security research. CodeQL treats source code as data, and anyone can write custom CodeQL queries to explore a codebase and identify vulnerabilities. Like code search on steroids!

The first step of any CodeQL analysis is extracting the source code into a CodeQL database. This database contains a relational representation of the source code — including elements like the abstract syntax tree, the data flow graph, and the control flow graph. You can create CodeQL databases yourself using the CodeQL CLI, but with the feature we shipped today, it's much quicker to get started: you can download a ready-built CodeQL database from GitHub.com.

Downloading CodeQL databases from GitHub.com in VS Code

To download a CodeQL database for use in the CodeQL extension in VS Code:

  1. Make sure you have set up the CodeQL extension for VS Code. For more information, see Setting up CodeQL in Visual Studio Code.
  2. Open the CodeQL databases view in the extension.
  3. Hover over the sidebar, click the GitHub icon, and specify the owner/repo identifier of the public repository you'd like to analyze.

    image

Once you've downloaded a CodeQL database, you're ready to start your research. Find more information in the CodeQL documentation.

FAQs

How many CodeQL databases are available?

We currently store databases for over 200,000 repositories on GitHub.com. That list is constantly growing and evolving to make sure that it includes the most interesting codebases for security research.

What languages are can you download CodeQL databases for?

We create and store databases for all of the languages that we support in CodeQL code scanning. For more information, see About code scanning with CodeQL.

Can I download CodeQL databases outside VS Code?

Yes, you can also download CodeQL databases using the GitHub REST API. For more information, see Downloading databases from GitHub.com in the CodeQL CLI documentation.

Why is there no CodeQL codebase available for my favourite open source repository?

If there is a repository that you'd like to analyze, but a CodeQL database is not available yet, then you can trigger the creation (and storing) of a database by enabling GitHub code scanning with the CodeQL engine. Alternatively, you could fork the repository and enable code scanning on the fork. For more information, see the code scanning documentation.

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The default code scanning query suites include checks for the most important security vulnerabilities for each supported language, so that any potential problems can be surfaced to developers before they are committed to their repository. However, in some situations a particular check is not relevant for a codebase and you might prefer to not run that CodeQL query. You can now easily exclude queries using code scanning query filters.

Query filters use the same syntax as CodeQL query suites and you can filter on any CodeQL query metadata property. Query filters must be specified in a custom code scanning configuration file, which you refer to from your code scanning analysis workflow file.

In your code scanning workflow file, use the config-file parameter of the init action to specify the path to the configuration file you want to use:

- uses: github/codeql-action/init@v2
  with:
    config-file: path/to/config/file.yml

In your configuration file, specify the query filters you want to use. For example, to exclude the Unsafe HTML constructed from library input query from the default code scanning query suite for JavaScript you can specify its id in an exclude block:

name: "My code scanning CodeQL config"

query-filters:
- exclude:
     id: js/html-constructed-from-input

For more information about how to use query filters, see Configuring code scanning in the code scanning documentation.

See more

It's now easier to debug CodeQL analysis problems in code scanning: click Re-run jobs from the GitHub Actions workflow run page, check the Enable debug logging box, and hit the Re-run jobs button.

Re-run all jobs

The data will be uploaded as an Actions artifact named debug-artifacts, attached to the workflow run. Such artifacts contain CodeQL logs, CodeQL databases, and the SARIF files that were produced.

Actions artifacts

These artifacts will help you when you're debugging problems with CodeQL code scanning. When contacting GitHub support, you might be asked for this data.

As part of the analysis, CodeQL extracts your source code into a relational database format. The debug artifacts include more detailed information about CodeQL extraction errors and warnings that occurred during database creation. If you want to permanently enable debug logging for the CodeQL analysis, or would like more information about troubleshooting CodeQL, please follow these instructions.

This feature is now available to all users on GitHub.com and will also be available in GitHub Enterprise Server 3.7.

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Code scanning flags up potential security vulnerabilities in pull requests — well before code is merged and deployed. Starting today, such alerts will be more visible: they will appear as a review on the pull request Conversation tab. As with any review, developers can then have a conversation about specific areas of the code that was changed.

And of course, from the code review by the GitHub code scanning bot, you can dive deeper into the alert: view the details, check the data flow paths, and dismiss an alert.

Code scanning alert

Code scanning and branch protection rules

Users were already able to configure code scanning as a required check in the branch protection settings in a repository.

With the new code scanning functionality, developers can start a conversation about code scanning alerts. Branch protection rules that require all conversations to be resolved before a PR can be merged apply equally to conversations about code scanning alerts: as soon as a code reviewer comments on a code scanning alert, the PR can not be merged until the conversation is marked as resolved. This helps ensure comments made on alerts are addressed prior to merging.

As you'd expect, when an alert is fixed, the conversation around the alert gets resolved and the PR can be merged.

PR merge blocked because of unresolved conversation

Learn more about GitHub Advanced Security and code scanning.

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Users can now add a comment when dismissing a code scanning alert.
Add a dismissal comment to a code scanning alert

It is optional to provide a dismissal comment. Dismissal comments are recorded in the alert timeline. They can also be set via the code scanning REST API when updating an alert, and retrieved through the new dismissed_comment attribute.

This feature is now available to all users on GitHub.com and will be released in GHES 3.6.

See more

On March 30, 2022, we released CodeQL Action v2, which runs on the Node.js 16 runtime. The CodeQL Action v1 will be deprecated at the same time as GHES 3.3, which is currently scheduled for January 2023.

How does this affect me?

Users of GitHub.com, GitHub AE, and GitHub Enterprise Server 3.5 (and later)

All users of GitHub code scanning (which by default uses the CodeQL analysis engine) on GitHub Actions on the following platforms should update their workflow files:

  • GitHub.com (including open source repositories, users of GitHub Teams and GitHub Enterprise Cloud)
  • GitHub AE
  • GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) 3.5 and later

Users of the above-mentioned platforms should update their CodeQL workflow file(s) to refer to the new v2 version of the CodeQL Action.

Users of GitHub Enterprise Server 3.4 (and older)

Users of GitHub Enterprise Server 3.4 (and older) are not recommended to update their configuration to use the v2 version of the CodeQL Action:

  • GHES 3.3 (and older) does not support running Actions using the Node 16 runtime and is therefore unable to run the v2 version of the CodeQL Action. Please upgrade to a newer version of GitHub Enterprise Server prior to changing your CodeQL Action workflow files.
  • While GHES 3.4 does support Node 16 Actions, it does not ship with v2 of the CodeQL Action. Users who want to migrate to v2 on GHES 3.4 should request that their system administrator enables GitHub Connect to download v2 onto GHES before updating their workflow files.

The upcoming release of GitHub Enterprise Server 3.5 will ship with v2 of the CodeQL Action included.

Exactly what do I need to change?

To upgrade to the CodeQL Action v2, open your CodeQL workflow file(s) in the .github directory of your repository and look for references to:

  • github/codeql-action/init@v1
  • github/codeql-action/autobuild@v1
  • github/codeql-action/analyze@v1
  • github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v1

These entries need to be replaced with their v2 equivalents:

  • github/codeql-action/init@v2
  • github/codeql-action/autobuild@v2
  • github/codeql-action/analyze@v2
  • github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v2

Can I use Dependabot to help me with this upgrade?

Yes, you can! For more details on how to configure Dependabot to automatically upgrade your Actions dependencies, please see this page.

What happens in January 2023?

In January 2023, the CodeQL Action v1 will be officially deprecated (at the same time as the GHES 3.3 deprecation). At that point, no new updates will be made to v1, which means that new CodeQL analysis capabilities will only be available to users of v2. We will keep a close eye on the migration progress across GitHub. If many workflow files still refer to v1 of the CodeQL Action we might consider scheduling one or more brownout moments later in the year to increase awareness.

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The CodeQL runner has been deprecated in favor of the CodeQL CLI. As previously announced, starting March 14th, the CodeQL bundle now no longer includes the CodeQL runner. This deprecation only affects users who use CodeQL code scanning in 3rd party CI/CD systems; users of GitHub Actions are not affected.

GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES)

The CodeQL runner was shipped as part of GitHub Enterprise Server (GHES) versions up to and including 3.3.x. GitHub Enterprise Server 3.4 and later no longer include the CodeQL runner. We strongly recommend that customers migrate to the CodeQL CLI, which is a feature-complete replacement for the CodeQL runner and has many additional features.

How does this affect me?

If you’re using CodeQL code scanning on GitHub Actions, you are not affected by this change.

If you’ve configured code scanning to run the CodeQL runner inside another CI/CD system, we recommend migrating to the CodeQL CLI as soon as possible.
Starting April 1st, changes to both the CodeQL analysis engine and the code scanning API are not guaranteed to be compatible with older CodeQL runner releases.

What actions should I take?

You should configure your CI/CD system to use the CodeQL CLI before upgrading to GHES 3.4.0. When setting up the CodeQL CLI, we recommend that you test the CodeQL CLI set up to verify that the CLI is correctly configured to analyze your repository.

Learn more about migrating from the CodeQL runner to the CodeQL CLI here.

See more

The code scanning alert page now shows the analysis origin for an alert. Code scanning alerts can originate from different analysis configurations on a repository. These may be using different tools or targeting different languages or areas of the code. For example, an alert generated using the default CodeQL analysis with GitHub Actions will have a different analysis origin from an alert generated externally and uploaded via the code scanning API. If an alert is generated by multiple analysis origins, the alert may be fixed in one origin but remain open in another.

code-scanning-analysis-origins

Code scanning now shows the details of the analysis origin of an alert. If an alert has more than one analysis origin, it is shown in the ‘Affected branches’ sidebar and in the alert timeline. You can hover over the analysis origin icon in the ‘Affected branches’ sidebar to see the alert status in each analysis origin. If an alert only has a single analysis origin, no information about analysis origins is displayed on the alert page.

These improvements will make it easier to understand your alerts — in particular those that have multiple analysis origins. This is especially useful for setups with multiple analysis configurations, such as mono repos.

Read more about code scanning analysis configurations

See more

The code scanning alert page now always shows the alert status and information for the default branch. There is a new ‘Affected branches’ panel in the sidebar to see the status of the alert in other branches. If the alert does not exist in your default branch, the alert page will show the status as ‘In branch’ or ‘In pull request’ for the location where the alert was last seen.

This improvement makes it easier to understand the status of alerts which have been introduced into your code base.

The alert list page is not changed and can be filtered by branch. You can use the code scanning API to retrieve more detailed branch information for alerts.

Read more about alert details.

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GitHub code scanning helps open source maintainers and organizations find potential vulnerabilities in their code, before these can make their way into deployments. CodeQL, our very own analysis engine, powers the majority of those checks. Over the past few months, we have been working hard to improve the depth and breadth of our analysis to cover more CWEs, add support for a host of new language versions, and improve our platform compatibility.

Before we dive into the details: If you haven’t tried GitHub code scanning with CodeQL yet, you can enable it now on your repositories by following this guide! It’s free for open-source projects and available as part of GitHub Advanced Security for our enterprise customers.

All improvements below are available to users of GitHub code scanning on GitHub.com today, and will be part of the next GitHub Enterprise Server release (GHES version 3.5). Users of other GHES versions can also update their CodeQL version to benefit from these analysis improvements straight away.

Language Support

Today, CodeQL already supports JavaScript/TypeScript, Python, Ruby, Java, C#, Go, and C/C++. These languages are themselves under constant development, and we now support the following language versions:

  • C# 10 / .NET 6,
  • Python 3.10,
  • Java 17, and
  • TypeScript 4.5

The standard language features in those language releases are now fully supported by CodeQL.

Performance and Compatibility

For our Linux users, we have fixed an issue that caused the CodeQL CLI to be incompatible with systems running glibc version 2.34 and older.

For users of the CodeQL Apple Silicon support (beta), we are now bundling a native Java runtime for improved performance. Rosetta 2 and macOS Developer Tools are still required for other CodeQL components.

Security Coverage

The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) system is an industry-standard way of cataloging insecure software development patterns. CodeQL runs hundreds of queries out of the box that are able to detect an even greater number of CWEs. We went back through our existing queries, and aligned dozens of them with updated CWE IDs to give users better insight into the potential impact of a security issue when an alert is flagged up by code scanning.

We’ve added and improved detection for a large number of CWEs. These are the most significant changes:

  • CWE-190 – Integer Overflow: The cpp/uncontrolled-arithmetic query for C/C++ detects potential user-controlled inputs to calculations that could produce an overflow condition
  • CWE-319 – Cleartext Transmission of Sensitive Data: The cpp/cleartext-transmission query for C/C++ detects network transmissions of sensitive data without encryption
  • CWE-120 – Buffer Overflow: The cpp/very-likely-overrunning-write query for C/C++ now detects cases of out-of-bounds writes based on advanced range analysis
  • CWE-732 – Incorrect Permission Assignment for Critical Resource: The cpp/open-call-with-mode-argument (and optional cpp/world-writable-file-creation) query for C/C++ detect issues that could lead to stack memory disclosure or attacker-writable files
  • CWE-295 – Improper Certificate Validation: The java/insecure-trustmanager query for Java now detects missing or lax certificate handling that could lead to man-in-the-middle attacks
  • CWE-829 – Inclusion of Functionality from Untrusted Control Sphere: The js/insecure-dependency query for JavaScript/TypeScript detects dependency downloads over unencrypted communication channels
  • CWE-347 – Improper Verification of Cryptographic Signature: The js/jwt-missing-verification query for JavaScript/TypeScript detects scenarios in which a JWT payload is not verified with a cryptographic secret or public key
  • CWE-918 – Server-Side Request Forgery: SSRF detection queries for Python have been improved, and now differentiate between partially and fully (py/full-ssrf) user-controlled URLs

Behind the scenes, we’re also working on support for mobile application security, with additional support for Kotlin and Swift on our roadmap. In the meantime, we’ve also added more coverage for mobile security issues for our existing Java support:

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