chef-vault

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chef-vault is a RubyGems package that is included in the Chef development kit. chef-vault allows the encryption of a data bag item by using the public keys of a list of nodes, allowing only those nodes to decrypt the encrypted values. chef-vault uses the knife vault subcommand.

Note

chef-vault does not currently support alternate keying mechanisms like GPG and Amazon KMS.

The chef-vault cookbook is maintained by Chef. Use it along with chef-vault itself. This cookbook adds the chef_vault_item helper method to the Recipe DSL and the chef_vault_secret resource. Use them both in recipes to work with data bag secrets.

Warning

Chef vault requires the use of chef-client configured to use public/private key pairs. Chef vault is incompatible with the practice of using chef-client with a private key as client.pem and a certificate set as its public identity in the Chef server database. To update existing nodes to use chef-vault, first re-register your chef-client nodes with the Chef server, which will generate public/private key pairs, and then install Chef vault on each node. Chef vault will generate the following error if used with a chef-client with a private key as client.pem and a certificate set as its public identity in the Chef server database:

OpenSSL::PKey::RSAError
-----------------------
Neither PUB key nor PRIV key:: nested asn1 error

Installation

If you are installing chef-vault independently of the Chef Development Kit, then first verify that you have the latest version Chef installed. Versions earlier than 0.10.0 don’t support plugins:

gem install chef

This plugin is distributed as a Ruby Gem. To install it, run:

gem install chef-vault

Depending on your system’s configuration, you may need to run this command with root privileges.

Configuring knife.rb for chef_vault

To set ‘client’ as the default mode, add the following line to the knife.rb file.

knife[:vault_mode] = 'client'

To set the default list of admins for creating and updating vaults, add the following line to the knife.rb file.

knife[:vault_admins] = [ 'example-alice', 'example-bob', 'example-carol' ]

(These values can be overridden on the command line by using -A)

Syntax

knife vault SUBCOMMAND VAULT ITEM VALUES

where:

  • vault names the location for storing the encrypted item.
  • item names the item stored in the vault.
  • values contains the data that will be encrypted and stored in the vault.

Vault Commands

knife vault create VAULT ITEM VALUES (options)
knife vault delete VAULT ITEM (options)
knife vault download VAULT ITEM PATH (options)
knife vault edit VAULT ITEM (options)
knife vault isvault VAULT ITEM (options)
knife vault itemtype VAULT ITEM (options)
knife vault list (options)
knife vault refresh VAULT ITEM
knife vault remove VAULT ITEM VALUES (options)
knife vault rotate all keys
knife vault rotate keys VAULT ITEM (options)
knife vault show VAULT [ITEM] [VALUES] (options)
knife vault update VAULT ITEM VALUES (options)

Vault Common Options

-A, --admins ADMINS
Chef users to be added as admins
-s, --server-url URL
Chef Server URL
--chef-zero-host HOST
Host to start chef-zero on
--chef-zero-port PORT
Port (or port range) to start chef-zero on. Port ranges like 1000,1010 or 8889-9999 will try all given ports until one works.
-k, --key KEY
API Client Key
-C, --clients CLIENTS
Chef clients to be added as clients
--[no-]color
Use colored output, defaults to enabled
-c, --config CONFIG
The configuration file to use
--config-option OPTION=VALUE
Override a single configuration option
--defaults
Accept default values for all questions
-d, –disable-editing
Do not open EDITOR, just accept the data as is
-e, --editor EDITOR
Set the editor to use for interactive commands
-E, --environment ENVIRONMENT
Set the Chef environment (except for in searches, where this will be flagrantly ignored)
--file FILE
File to be added to vault item as file-content
--[no-]fips
Enable or disable fips mode
-F, --format FORMAT
Which format to use for output
-J,“ –json FILE“
File containing JSON data to encrypt
-K, --keys-mode KEYS_MODE
Mode in which to save vault keys
--[no-]listen
Whether a local mode (-z) server binds to a port
-z, --local-mode
Point knife commands at local repository instead of server
-u, --user USER
API Client Username
--print-after
Show the data after a destructive operation
-S, --search SEARCH
Chef SOLR search for clients
-M, --mode MODE
Chef mode to run in. Default Value: solo
-V, --verbose
More verbose output. Use twice for max verbosity
-v, --version
Show chef version
-y, --yes
Say yes to all prompts for confirmation
-h, --help
Show this message

Example Commands

create

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for clients role:webserver, client1 & client2 and admins admin1 & admin2

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for clients role:webserver and admins admin1 & admin2

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -A "admin1,admin2"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for clients role:webserver, client1 & client2

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for clients role:webserver

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for clients client1 & client2

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -C "client1,client2"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it with the given values for username and password encrypted for admins admin1 & admin2

knife vault create passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -A "admin1,admin2"

Create a vault called passwords and put an item called root in it encrypted for admins admin1 & admin2. Leaving the data off the command-line will open an editor to fill out the data

knife vault create passwords root -A "admin1,admin2"

Note

A JSON file can be used in place of specifying the values on the command line, see global options below for details

update

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}'

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root and add role:webserver, client1 & client2 to the encrypted clients and admin1 & admin2 to the encrypted admins. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root and add role:webserver to the encrypted clients and admin1 & admin2 to the encrypted admins. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -A "admin1,admin2"

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root and add role:webserver to the encrypted clients. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver"

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root and add client1 & client2 to the encrypted clients. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -C "client1,client2"

Update the values in username and password in the vault passwords and item root and add admin1 & admin2 to the encrypted admins. Will overwrite existing values if values already exist!

knife vault update passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -A "admin1,admin2"

Add role:webserver to encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -S "role:webserver"

Add client1 & client2 to encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -C "client1,client2"

Add admin1 & admin2 to encrypted admins for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -A "admin1,admin2"

Add admin1 & admin2 to encrypted admins and role:webserver, client1 & client2 to encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Add admin1 & admin2 to encrypted admins and role:webserver to encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -S "role:webserver" -A "admin1,admin2"

Add admin1 & admin2 to encrypted admins and client1 & client2 to encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault update passwords root -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

..Note:: A JSON file can be used in place of specifying the values on the command line, see global options below for details

remove

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}'

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove role:webserver, client1 & client2 from the encrypted clients and admin1 & admin2 from the encrypted admins.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove role:webserver from the encrypted clients and admin1 & admin2 from the encrypted admins.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver" -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove client1 & client2 from the encrypted clients and admin1 & admin2 from the encrypted admins.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove role:webserver from the encrypted clients.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -S "role:webserver"

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove client1 & client2 from the encrypted clients.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -C "client1,client2"

Remove the values in username and password from the vault passwords and item root and remove admin1 & admin2 from the encrypted admins.

knife vault remove passwords root '{"username": "root", "password": "mypassword"}' -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove admin1 & admin2 from encrypted admins and role:webserver, client1 & client2 from encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root -S "role:webserver" -C "client1,client2" -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove admin1 & admin2 from encrypted admins and role:webserver from encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root -S "role:webserver" -A "admin1,admin2"

Remove role:webserver from encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root -S "role:webserver"

Remove client1 & client2 from encrypted clients for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root -C "client1,client2"

Remove admin1 & admin2 from encrypted admins for the vault passwords and item root.

knife vault remove passwords root -A "admin1,admin2"

delete

Delete the item root from the vault passwords

knife vault delete passwords root

show

Show the items in a vault.

knife vault show passwords

Show the entire root item in the passwords vault and print in JSON format.

knife vault show passwords root -Fjson

Show the entire root item in the passwords vault and print in JSON format, including the search query, clients, and admins.

knife vault show passwords root -Fjson -p all

Show the username and password for the item root in the vault passwords.

knife vault show passwords root "username, password"

Show the contents for the item user_pem in the vault certs.

knife vault show certs user_pem "contents"

edit

Decrypt the entire root item in the passwords vault and open it in json format in your $EDITOR. Writing and exiting out the editor will save and encrypt the vault item.

knife vault edit passwords root

download

Decrypt and download an encrypted file to the specified path.

knife vault download certs user_pem ~/downloaded_user_pem

rotate keys

Rotate the shared key for the vault passwords and item root. The shared key is that which is used for the chef encrypted data bag item.

knife vault rotate keys passwords root

To remove clients which have been deleted from Chef but not from the vault, add the --clean-unknown-clients switch:

knife vault rotate keys passwords root --clean-unknown-clients

rotate all keys

Rotate the shared key for all vaults and items. The shared key is that which is used for the chef encrypted data bag item.

knife vault rotate all keys

Removes clients which have been deleted from Chef but not from the vault.

knife vault rotate keys passwords root --clean-unknown-clients

refresh

This command reads the search_query in the vault item, performs the search, and reapplies the results.

knife vault refresh VAULT ITEM

To remove clients which have been deleted from Chef but not from the vault, add the --clean-unknown-clients switch:

knife vault refresh passwords root --clean-unknown-clients

isvault

This command checks if the given item is a vault or not, and exit with a status of 0 if it is and 1 if it is not.

knife vault isvault VAULT ITEM

itemtype

This command outputs the type of the data bag item: normal, encrypted or vault

knife vault itemtype VAULT ITEM

Global Options

Short Command Long Command Description Default Valid Values Sub-Commands
-M, MODE --mode MODE Chef mode to run in. Can be set in knife.rb solo solo, client all
-S SEARCH --search SEARCH Chef Server SOLR Search Of Nodes none none create, remove , update
-A ADMINS --admins ADMINS Chef clients or users to be vault admins, can be comma list none none create, remove , update
-J FILE --json FILE JSON file to be used for values, will be merged with VALUES if VALUES is passed none none create, update
--file FILE none File that chef-vault should encrypt. It adds “file-content” & “file-name” keys to the vault item none none create, update
-p DATA --print DATA Print extra vault data none search, clients, admins, all show
-F FORMAT --format FORMAT Format for decrypted output summary summary, json, yaml, pp show
–clean-unknown-clients none Remove unknown clients during key rotation none none refresh, remove, rotate

Options for knife bootstrap

Use the following options with a validatorless bootstrap to specify items that are stored in“chef-vault“:

--bootstrap-vault-file VAULT_FILE
The path to a JSON file that contains a list of vaults and items to be updated.
--bootstrap-vault-item VAULT_ITEM
A single vault and item to update as vault:item.
--bootstrap-vault-json VAULT_JSON

A JSON string that contains a list of vaults and items to be updated.

For example:

--bootstrap-vault-json '{ "vault1": ["item1", "item2"], "vault2": "item2" }'

Using chef-vault in recipes

To use this gem in a recipe to decrypt data you must first install the gem via a chef_gem resource. Once the gem is installed require the gem and then you can create a new instance of ChefVault.

chef-vault 1.0 style decryption is supported, however it has been deprecated and chef-vault 2.0 decryption should be used instead

Example Code

chef_gem 'chef-vault' do
  compile_time true if respond_to?(:compile_time)
end
#
require 'chef-vault'
#
item = ChefVault::Item.load("passwords", "root")
item["password"]

Note that in this case, the gem needs to be installed at compile time because the require statement is at the top-level of the recipe. If you move the require of chef-vault and the call to ::load to library or provider code, you can install the gem in the converge phase instead.

Specifying an alternate node name or client key path

Normally, the value of Chef::Config[:node_name] is used to find the per-node encrypted secret in the keys data bag item, and the value of Chef::Config[:client_key] is used to locate the private key to decrypt this secret.

These can be overridden by passing a hash with the keys :node_name or :client_key_path to ChefVault::Item.load:

item = ChefVault::Item.load(
  'passwords', 'root',
  node_name: 'service_foo',
  client_key_path: '/secure/place/service_foo.pem'
)
item['password']

The above example assumes that you have transferred /secure/place/service_foo.pem to your system via a secure channel.

This usage allows you to decrypt a vault using a key shared among several nodes, which can be helpful when working in cloud environments or other configurations where nodes are created dynamically.

chef_vault_item helper

The [chef-vault cookbook](https://supermarket.chef.io/cookbooks/chef-vault) contains a recipe to install the chef-vault gem and a helper method c`hef_vault_helper` which makes it easier to test cookbooks that use chef-vault using Test Kitchen.

Determining if Item is a Vault

ChefVault provides a helper method to determine if a data bag item is a vault, which can be helpful if you produce a recipe for community consumption and want to support both normal data bags and vaults:

if ChefVault::Item.vault?('passwords', 'root')
  item = ChefVault::Item.load('passwords', 'root')
else
  item = Chef::DataBagItem.load('passwords', 'root')
end

This functionality is also available from the command line as knife vault isvault VAULT ITEM.

Determining Data Bag Item Type

ChefVault provides a helper method to determine the type of a data bag item. It returns one of the symbols :normal, :encrypted or :vault

case ChefVault::Item.data_bag_item_type('passwords', 'root')
when :normal
  ...
when :encrypted
  ...
when :vault
end

This functionality is also available from the command line as knife vault itemtype VAULT ITEM.

Stand Alone Usage

chef-vault can be used as a stand alone binary to decrypt values stored in Chef. It requires that Chef is installed on the system and that you have a valid knife.rb. This is useful if you want to mix chef-vault into non-Chef recipe code, for example some other script where you want to protect a password.

It does still require that the data bag has been encrypted for the user’s or client’s pem and pushed to the Chef server. It mixes Chef into the gem and uses it to go grab the data bag.

Use chef-vault --help to see all all available options

Example usage (password)

chef-vault -v passwords -i root -a password -k /etc/chef/knife.rb

Testing

To stub vault items in ChefSpec, use the chef-vault-testfixture gem.

To fall back to unencrypted JSON files in Test Kitchen, use the chef_vault_item helper in the aforementioned chef-vault cookbook.

For more information …

For more information about chef-vault: