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I'd love for someone to explain what you get from using a secret management service other than encrypted at rest blobs.

Ex. You store your AWS Master key in a config file, and you have Microservice A that reads that key from the file. Microservice A is compromised (or its VM is compromised). How does having a secret store help you here? Couldn't the attacker just inspect the code of Microservice A and see that you are just reading from disk/reading from Vault?

In short, what do services like this protect from me (other than accidentally checking in my code to a public repo?)




They let you not check secrets into repos, they let you update and rotate them in a centralized place, they let you easily share them between services, and they let you store them encrypted at rest.

Also, in this particular case, thanks to KMS you can also keep the stored at-rest on microservice A, and decrypt them only in memory as well.

Note that you don't store a master key in a config file, but instead you use the KMS master key to encrypt/decrypt things. You never get direct access to the master key.




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