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Secret key management

Secret key management

This page is primarily for the team. It's public so that you can learn from it. For help using, see the user docs.

Sharing secret keys

For sharing the following types of sensitive information related to, team members must use Fugacious links, shared over a GSA application (such as GSA Gmail or TTS Slack). The team member must share the Fugacious link only with intended recipient(s) who need to know the sensitive information.

  • Passwords
  • Secret keys
  • Sensitive environment variables
  • Other secret authentication information

The team must comply with 18F’s policies in the Handbook, with the following additional restrictions (for security and compliance reasons):

  • Expiry must be set to 12 hours or less
  • Number of opens must be set to two views, per person who needs to open it

Maintenance of system secret keys

To meet NIST security control SC-12 (1), we maintain the availability of all information on the platform in the event a cryptographic access key is lost or compromised.

Authorized federal staff rotate, encrypt, and backup keys monthly. Privileged users can access the keys only with two-factor authentication and a decryption passphrase. In the rare case that both the keys and the decryption passphrase for the backup are lost or compromised, new keys can be rotated in by authorized federal staff, while maintaining availability of information.

AWS credentials

If you need to view/update secrets:

  1. Ask in #cg-platform for an account to read/write from the S3 buckets.
  2. Set up a named profile for the AWS CLI.

The examples below use --profile govcloud, but replace with the name of your profile.

Generate and upload keys

Use this script to generate keys and upload them as access keys to AWS EC2 and an encrypted backup to AWS S3. You just need to provide a BUCKET destination for the backup and a decryption PASSPHRASE. In your terminal:

BUCKET=my-bucket PASSPHRASE=somethingorother ./

Once the key is uploaded to AWS, the cf-secrets.yml file you use for deployment needs to be updated. Modify key_name to use the new key, then start a new production deployment.

Dealing with secrets

Substitute cf.main.yml in the following steps for the relevant file.

UAA credentials

All UAA clients and users and associated credentials should be created via the Cloud Foundry secrets or the service account or identity provider services. UAA accounts should not be created manually; we reserve the right to drop permissions for or deprovision hand-propped accounts.

View secrets
  1. Clone the cg-pipeline-tasks repository.

    git clone
  2. If you don’t already have the AWS CLI set up with credentials, see the steps above.

  3. Download the credentials file.

    mkdir -p tmp
    aws s3 cp s3://cloud-gov-varz/cf.main.yml tmp/cf.main.yml.enc --profile govcloud
  4. Get the encryption passphrase.

    1. View the deploy-cf pipeline configuration for any of the common-* environments. The following command outputs all the cg-common resources. You can modify the test for test("common-") to grab specific credentials about each resource.

      fly --target <target> get-pipeline --pipeline deploy-cf | \
      spruce json | \
      jq -r '.resources[] | select(.name | test("common-"))'
    2. Grab the secrets_passphrase under the common-prod resource. The following command grabs just the common-prod resource and parses out the secrets_passphrase found in the pipeline.yml file for cg-deploy-cf. This is useful for feeding this value to other commands without visually exposing the secret in your terminal.

      fly --target <target> get-pipeline --pipeline deploy-cf | \
      spruce json | \
      jq -r '.resources[] | select(.name | test("common-prod")) | .sources.secrets_passphrase'
  5. Decrypt the secrets file.

    PASSPHRASE=$(fly --target <target> get-pipeline --pipeline deploy-cf | spruce json | jq -r '.resources[] | select(.name | test("common-prod")) | .sources.secrets_passphrase')
  6. Don’t leave the secrets lying around (for security reasons, and because they get stale).

    rm -rf tmp
Change secrets
  1. Post in #cg-platform saying you’re updating cf.main.yml.
  2. Follow the decryption steps above, up until the cleanup.
  3. Modify the cf.main.yml with the new values.
  4. Re-encrypt the file.

    PASSPHRASE=$(fly --target <target> get-pipeline --pipeline deploy-cf | spruce json | jq -r '.resources[] | select(.name | test("common-prod")) | .sources.secrets_passphrase')
  5. Copy the new file up to S3.

    aws s3 cp tmp/cf.main.yml.enc-new s3://cloud-gov-varz/cf.main.yml --profile govcloud --sse AES256
  6. Clean up the secrets.

    rm -rf tmp