Secure Key Logo Secure Key


Secure Key is an addon that adds the ability to gracefully rotate tokens and keys.

Apps may require random keys for things like signing cookies, shared credentials or encryption. The secure key addon provides an always fresh, unguessable secret for these purposes. It can be used anywhere in your application that may require some source of randomness or secret token. Secure Key places these random keys in your environment and encourages good practices by allowing the key to be rotated periodically.

Secure Key is especially perfect for encrypting cookies or databases as it provides two keys, when keys are rotated the oldest is removed and a new key is created. This ensures that there isn't a discontinuity when keys are rotated between the old and new ones (keys are slowly rotated out rather than abruptly using multiple keys).

Set up

Before we get started, ensure you have the secure key plugin installed on your command line.

aka plugins:install securekey

Provisioning the add-on

Secure Key can be attached to an application using the CLI, UI or Platform Apps API:

aka addons:create securekey:fortnightly -a [appname-spacename]

Once Secure Key has been added, SECURE_KEY will be available in the apps config-vars and environment. This contains two 32 byte hexadecimal (string encoded) securely generated keys seperated by a comma. You can view the value of this in your app (so long as its not in a prod or socs space) via:

aka config -a [appname-space]
SECURE_KEY        2fi9ugflsiscwcdv3g2aq2v2c2nwam2elripnkjbn1s6n5m6c4,6c7r6pz375bhltbvt57slj5waqj3fw1t7hc0u8bqwda0sqdth5

The key is formatted as <CURRENT_KEY>,<OLD_KEY>. After the appropriate amount of time (or anytime the secure key is rotated) CURRENT_KEY will be moved after the comma becoming the old key, and a fresh key will be put before the comma.

aka securekey:rotate -a [appname-space] ; aka config -a [appname-space]
SECURE_KEY        5ea4dgflsiscwcdv3g2aq2v2c2n3112elripnkjbn1s6n5m655,2fi9ugflsiscwcdv3g2aq2v2c2nwam2elripnkjbn1s6n5m6c4

Attaching to other apps

Another use case of Secure Key is providing a shared secret among multiple apps for authentication or cookie signing. Normally it may be quite a pain to manually rotate the keys that are shared among multiple apps, but by attaching the Secure Key addon each app may share the same secret and when keys are rotated they are all restarted collectively.

Before attaching, we need to know the add-on name, it will look something like securekey-noun-12345, it was shown earlier when the addon was provisioned. It can be found later using aka addons -a [appname-space].

To attach the addon to a new app named newapp-space run:

aka addons:attach securekey-noun-12345 -a newapp-space

Rotating Keys

Periodically you may wish to rotate keys, or if one of the keys becomes compromised you can rotate them by using the CLI plugin and executing:

aka securekey:rotate -a [appname-space]

This will restart any apps the addon is attached to as well.

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