How to manage secrets in GitLab CI
This guide shows you how you can use SecretHub for your pipeline secrets. You’ll be able to define the required secrets in the
Before you begin
To follow along, you will need to:
Step 1: Write your secrets
If you haven’t done so already, store your secrets on SecretHub. You can use the following commands to get everything set up:
secrethub repo initto create a repository
secrethub mkdirto create a directory
secrethub writeto write some secrets
In the examples we’ll be using two AWS secrets:
company/app/aws/secret_access_key, but the same principle applies to all secrets.
Step 2: Set up your GitLab CI configuration
To configure your Gitlab CI pipeline add a file named
.gitlab-ci.yml to your repository, similar to this one:
image: alpine stages: - deploy deploy: stage: deploy variables: AWS_REGION: us-east-1 AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID: secrethub://company/app/aws/access_key_id AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY: secrethub://company/app/aws/secret_access_key before_script: - apk add --repository https://alpine.secrethub.io/alpine/edge/main --allow-untrusted secrethub-cli script: - secrethub run -- ./deploy.sh
There are three things to note here: Fist of all,
AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY are set to reference the path at which they’re on SecretHub.
Furthermore, the command in the
before_script section installs the SecretHub CLI. The CLI will be used later to provision the secrets. Alternatively, you can include the installation in the docker image on which the job runs, to save one step every time your job is executed.
The last thing to note is that the command that requires secrets,
./deploy.sh in this case, is wrapped with the
secrethub run command.
run replaces the secret references in the environment of the subcommand with the secret values.
For jobs that you’d like to be able to run locally as well (e.g. your tests), consider using environment files. They’re also a good fit if you have secrets for multiple environments, as they support templating.
Step 3: Create a SecretHub service account
SecretHub uses service accounts to grant non-human parties (such as CIs) access to secrets.
To create a service account, run the
secrethub service init command:
secrethub service init --permission read company/app
This command will output the generated account credential. Make sure to copy it as it will be needed in the next step.
--permission read flag will grant the service read access to the specified repo.
Note that you can use the
--clip flag to write the output of the command to your clipboard:
secrethub service init --clip --permission read company/app
Step 4: Provide the credential to GitLab CI
- Open your GitLab project in the browser and go to the
Settings, CI / CDpage.
- Scroll to the
Variablessection and click on expand.
- Set the variable type to
Variable, the key to
SECRETHUB_CREDENTIALand the value to the credential generated in the previous step. Make sure to tick
Protectedand choose the appropriate scope of this variable.
Note that GitLab does not support masking the
SECRETHUB_CREDENTIALsince it contains a
- Click on
You have successfully configured your GitLab CI/CD pipeline to fetch secrets from SecretHub. Moreover, you can now rotate your secrets and the pipeline will automatically use their latest version.
- For more information about the run command, check out the documentation.
- For more details about SecretHub services check out the documentation.