What is AWS Secrets Manager
Updated on 21st Sep, 22 16 Views

AWS Secrets Manager assists you in safeguarding the secrets required to access your applications, services, and IT resources.

Secrets Manager provides secret rotation with built-in integration for Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service ), Amazon Redshift, and Amazon DocumentDB.

In this blog, we’ll talk about:

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What Exactly is a Secret?

A secret is a sensitive piece of information. For example, an API key, password, or any other sort of credential that you would use to get into a secure system.

Secrets allow you to authenticate to protected services while developing applications.  For eg, When you want to access an external service API, you are prompted to enter a unique credential. After you provide your credentials, the external service will be able to determine who you are and whether you have permission to connect with it.

AWS Secrets Manager Overview

Let’s take a deeper look and try to understand what is AWS Secrets Manager:

  • It is an AWS service that stores secrets such as passwords, login credentials, third-party keys, and other similar confidential information.
  • Secrets Manager lets you save and manage credentials.
  • It enables you to modify or rotate your credentials effortlessly, eliminating any code or configuration changes.
  • Rather than hard-coding credentials in your code or configuration files, you can simply use Secrets Manager to store them.
  • It enables you to retrieve secrets programmatically by replacing hard-coded credentials in your code with an API call Secrets Manager.
  • It uses the AWS Key Management System to encrypt the protected text of a secret.

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Why should you use AWS Secrets Manager?

AWS Secrets Manager secures access to your apps, services, and IT resources without any upfront investment or ongoing maintenance expenses while operating your infrastructure.

Secrets Manager is designed for IT administrators who want a safe and scalable way to store and manage secrets.

It allows security administrators in charge of meeting regulatory and compliance standards to monitor and cycle secrets without affecting applications.

 Developers can also use it to replace hard-coded secrets in their apps.

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Benefits of using AWS Secrets Manager

Benefits of using AWS Secrets Manager

Let’s talk in detail about several benefits offered by AWS Secrets Manager:

Rotate secrets safely

  • AWS Secrets Manager allows you to meet your security requirements by properly rotating secrets without any need for code deployments.
  • Secrets Manager, for example, includes a built-in interface for Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, & Amazon DocumentDB and it automatically rotates these database credentials on your behalf.
  • You may use AWS Lambda functions to extend Secrets Manager rotation to other secret kinds, such as API keys and OAuth tokens.
  • Using Secrets Manager to retrieve the secret means that developers and applications are using the most up-to-date version of your secrets.

Manage access with fine-grained policies

  • You can manage access to secrets with the help of Secrets Manager using fine-grained AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies.
  • You can, for example, design a policy that allows developers to retrieve specific secrets only when they are applied in the development environment. The same policy may allow developers to get passwords used in the production environment only if the requests come from within the corporate IT network.

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Secure and audit secrets centrally

  • Secrets Manager allows you to help secure secrets by encrypting them using encryption keys managed by AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS).
  • It also interfaces with Amazon Web Services’ logging and monitoring services to provide centralized audits.
  • For example, you can examine AWS CloudTrail logs to identify when Secrets Manager rotates a secret or set up Amazon CloudWatch Events to warn you whenever an administrator deletes a secret.

Pay as you go

  • You are charged based on the number of secrets managed in Secrets Manager as well as the number of API calls made using Secrets Manager.
  • You may enable a highly accessible secrets management service without the initial investment and ongoing maintenance expenditures of running your infrastructure.

Easily replicate secrets to multiple regions

  • AWS Secrets Manager makes it simple to replicate secrets across various AWS regions in order to support multi-region applications and disaster recovery situations.
  • The multi-Region secrets functionality simplifies the complexity of duplicating and managing secrets across different regions, allowing you to easily access and read secrets where they are needed.

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Storing Secrets Using AWS CLI

To save secrets using AWS CLI, you must first ensure that AWS CLI is configured and that you have an IAM account with access to the AWS Secrets Manager.

Once these conditions are met, only then AWS CLI can be used to store secrets.

Let us now look at how we can do this.

  1. Execute  the following commands:
aws secretsmanager create-secret \\
–name “avApiKey” \\
–secret-string ‘{“api_key”: “super-secret”}’
  • To check if the previous commands were successful and the secret was produced, run the command given below

aws secretsmanager list-secrets

  • Furthermore, you can use the following instructions to update the credentials (for example, if you changed your password).
aws secretsmanager update-secret \\
         –secret-id “avApikey” \\
         –secret-string ‘{“api_key”: “secret_v2”}’

AWS Secret Manager encryption and decryption

Secrets Manager follows the following procedure to ENCRYPT the secret value in a secret:

  1. Secrets Manager invokes the AWS KMS GenerateDataKey operation with a secret ID and a request for a 256-bit AES symmetric key. AWS KMS delivers a plaintext data key as well as an encrypted duplicate of that data key under the KMS key.
  2. Secrets Manager encrypts the secret value outside of AWS KMS using the plaintext data key and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. It deletes the plaintext key from memory as soon as it is used.
  3. Secrets Manager keeps the encrypted data key in the secret’s metadata so that it can be decrypted. However, neither the encrypted secret nor the encrypted data key are returned by any of the Secrets Manager APIs.

To DECRYPT a secret value that has been encrypted:

  1. Secrets Manager invokes the AWS KMS Decrypt procedure, supplying the encrypted data key.
  2. To decrypt the data key, AWS KMS employs the KMS key for the secret. It returns the data key in plaintext.
  3. To decode the secret value, Secrets Manager applies the plaintext data key. The data key is then removed as soon as possible from memory.

If you have any doubts or queries related to this technology, do a post on AWS Community.

AWS Secrets manager alternatives

AWS Secrets manager alternative

Below mentioned are some of the alternatives to secrets manager that you might consider in your software research:

LastPass

LastPass offers safe password management. LastPass is the easiest solution for businesses to improve password hygiene and security without sacrificing usability or employee productivity.

1Password

1Password protects your online identity by making it simple to establish and use strong passwords. With the Watchtower suite of security solutions, you can protect against data breaches and compromised logins, and you can obtain the apps for any platform so your credentials are always with you when you need them.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden is a password management tool that allows enterprises to generate, store, exchange, and manage internet passwords while maintaining corporate data confidentiality. The software enables businesses to securely communicate data within the Bitwarden vault from any location or device.

Passwork

Passwork is a self-hosted password manager for businesses that stores passwords in organized folders and allows logins to be shared among invited user groups with configurable role-based permissions while tracking activity.

Securden

Securden is endpoint security software that helps enterprises of all sizes regulate apps, privileged access, and remote endpoints. The password vault allows administrators to store, manage, and share certificates and encrypted keys.

AWS Secrets Manager Pricing

AWS Secrets Manager Pricing

You pay for AWS Secrets Manager depending on the number of secrets stored and the number of API calls made as it is a pay-as-you-go service. There are no hidden charges or long-term commitments. There is a 30-day free trial period during which you can try AWS Secrets Manager at no cost. The free trial period begins when you store your first secret. After the free trial period, you will be charged $0.40 per secret every month and $0.05 for 10,000 API calls.

Summary

Secret management is crucial for any business in any scenario when it comes to data protection. When it comes to secret management solutions, AWS Secrets Manager offers a broad range of feature sets. It supports a wide range of secrets, including database credentials, on-premises resource credentials, SaaS application credentials, API keys, and SSH keys, among others. There are several secret management systems available in today’s security industry; however, given that AWS Secrets Manager works effortlessly in the AWS environment, it also provides excellent compatibility with other settings.

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