Introduction to AWS Secret Manager

Introduction to AWS Secret Manager


When you're building software, especially when using services like LinkedIn's API, you'll often have important information like API tokens. These tokens are like special keys that let your software talk to the LinkedIn service. Just like real keys, it’s super important to keep these digital keys safe.

Let's start our story with the usual way many of us begin handling these keys and learn how to make it better with AWS Secrets Manager.

The Beginning: A Common Mistake

In the early days of learning to code, you might put your API token directly in your code and then upload this code to a place like GitHub. This seems easy and harmless, right?

But it's actually like leaving your house key under the doormat. If a hacker gets into your GitHub account, they can easily find this key. So it doesn't matter whether your repository is private or public.

You might then think, "Okay, I'll put the key in environment variables on my computer." 😮‍💨

This is a bit like hiding your house key inside your home. It's safer, but if someone breaks into your house (or in this case, your computer), they can still find the key.

The Solution: AWS Secrets Manager

Now, let's talk about AWS Secrets Manager. This is a service provided by Amazon Web Services that acts like a secure vault for your digital keys. When you use it, your software has to ask the vault for the key every time it needs it. The key is only out in the open when it's being used, which is much safer.

const client = new AWS.SecretsManager();

client.getSecretValue({ SecretId: secretName }, (err, data) => {
    if (err) {
        console.error("Error retrieving secret:", err);
    } else {
        // Secret value is in data.SecretString or data.SecretBinary, depending on the secret's format
        const secretValue = data.SecretString ? data.SecretString : data.SecretBinary;
        console.log("Retrieved secret:", secretValue);

But what if someone knows the name of your key? 🧐

Here's where AWS Secrets Manager is really smart. It uses something called IAM (Identity and Access Management) to make sure only the right people in your team can ask for the key. It's like having a really smart security guard who only lets the right people into your vault.

Extra Protection: AWS KMS

What about keeping the keys safe inside the vault? 😱

AWS has another service called Key Management Service (KMS) which is like adding an extra strong lock to your vault. It keeps your keys safe even when they are just sitting in the vault.

Overview of AWS Secrets Manager

Now, let's dive deeper into what AWS Secrets Manager does:

  • It's a service from Amazon that helps you keep all your important keys and passwords safe.

  • It puts all these keys in one place and adds extra protection to them.

  • You might worry that putting all your keys in one place is risky.

    • Set up MFA for your AWS users.

    • You can also control who can see or use each key very carefully. This is done through IAM, and you can even see who and when someone checks out a key, using a service called CloudWatch.

  • AWS Secrets Manager also lets you change your keys regularly and automatically, which is like changing the locks on your doors from time to time for extra safety.

Cost of Using AWS Secrets Manager

Using this service isn't free, but it's like paying a small fee for a really good security system.

After trying it for 30 days for free, it costs $0.40 for each key per month, and $0.05 for every 10,000 times you use the service to get your key.

However, since you can cache your key in memory, you don't have to ask for it too often, which saves money.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, AWS Secrets Manager works like a safe for your digital keys, making sure only allowed access and protection when not being used.

For developers using APIs or other services needing special keys, learning to use AWS Secrets Manager is important for keeping your digital assets safe.