Secret management

  • Docker has a "secret safe" (secure key→value store)

  • You can create as many secrets as you like

  • You can associate secrets to services

  • Secrets are exposed as plain text files, but kept in memory only (using tmpfs)

  • Secrets are immutable (at least in Engine 1.13)

  • Secrets have a max size of 500 KB

Creating secrets

  • Must specify a name for the secret; and the secret itself

If the secret is in a file, you can simply pass the path to the file.

(The special path - indicates to read from the standard input.)

Creating better secrets

  • Picking lousy passwords always leads to security breaches
  • Let's craft a better password, and assign it to another secret:
    base64 /dev/urandom | head -c16 | docker secret create arewesecureyet -

Note: in the latter case, we don't even know the secret at this point. But Swarm does.

Using secrets

  • Secrets must be handed explicitly to services
  • Create a dummy service with both secrets:
      docker service create \
             --secret hackme --secret arewesecureyet \
             --name dummyservice \
             --constraint node.hostname==$HOSTNAME \
             alpine sleep 1000000000

We constrain the container to be on the local node for convenience.
(We are going to use docker exec in just a moment!)

Accessing secrets

  • Secrets are materialized on /run/secrets (which is an in-memory filesystem)
  • Find the ID of the container for the dummy service:

    CID=$(docker ps -q --filter
  • Enter the container:

    docker exec -ti $CID sh
  • Check the files in /run/secrets

Rotating secrets

  • You can't change a secret

    (Sounds annoying at first; but allows clean rollbacks if a secret update goes wrong)

  • You can add a secret to a service with docker service update --secret-add

    (This will redeploy the service; it won't add the secret on the fly)

  • You can remove a secret with docker service update --secret-rm

  • Secrets can be mapped to different names by expressing them with a micro-format:

    docker service create --secret source=secretname,target=filename

Changing our insecure password

  • We want to replace our hackme secret with a better one
  • Remove the insecure hackme secret:

    docker service update dummyservice --secret-rm hackme
  • Add our better secret instead:

    docker service update dummyservice \
           --secret-add source=arewesecureyet,target=hackme

Wait for the service to be fully updated with e.g. watch docker service ps dummyservice.
(With Docker Engine 17.10 and later, the CLI will wait for you!)

Checking that our password is now stronger

  • We will use the power of docker exec!
  • Get the ID of the new container:

    CID=$(docker ps -q --filter
  • Check the contents of the secret files:

    docker exec $CID grep -r . /run/secrets

Secrets in practice

  • Can be (ab)used to hold whole configuration files if needed

  • If you intend to rotate secret foo, call it foo.N instead, and map it to foo

    (N can be a serial, a timestamp...)

    docker service create --secret source=foo.N,target=foo ...
  • You can update (remove+add) a secret in a single command:

    docker service update ... --secret-rm foo.M --secret-add source=foo.N,target=foo
  • For more details and examples, check the documentation