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Manage Secrets in a build-cookbook

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This documentation applies to a deprecated product. Chef Automate includes newer out-of-the-box compliance profiles, an improved compliance scanner with total cloud scanning functionality, better visualizations, role-based access control and many other features. Chef Automate is included as part of the Workflow license agreement and is available via subscription.

This topic describes how and why to use secrets in a build-cookbook:

  • This code is used in the build-cookbook
  • Secrets are managed at the project, organization and/or enterprise level
  • There are two mechanisms to manage secrets in Chef Automate:
    • Using an encrypted data bag.
    • Using chef vaults.

Using Encrypted Data Bags

This section describes how to use encrypted data bag items in Chef Automate.

Create an Encrypted Data Bag

Create an encrypted data bag item that is nested inside the delivery-secrets data bag. Give the encrypted data bag item the name:


For example, if the project is in the chef enterprise and is in the CIA organization with a name of chef-web-www, the encrypted data bag item would have the following name:


The encrypted data bag item should use the same encrypted data bag secret key that is distributed with the build nodes.

If the project item does not exist, delivery-sugar will try to load the secrets from the project’s parent organization. It will look for an item called:


This is useful if you would like to share secrets across projects within the same organization.

Use an Encrypted Data Bag

To use an encrypted data bag item, do the following:

  1. Ensure that metadata.rb for the build-cookbook shows that it depends on the delivery-sugar cookbook (

  2. Update the Berksfile to point to GitHub for the cookbook. The line in your Berksfile should be similar to:

    cookbook 'delivery-sugar', github: 'chef-cookbooks/delivery-sugar'

From there, begin using the secrets by calling the get_project_secrets method. For example:

if push_repo_to_github?
  secrets = get_project_secrets
  github_repo = node['delivery']['config']['delivery-truck']['publish']['github']

  delivery_github github_repo do
    deploy_key secrets['github']
    branch node['delivery']['change']['pipeline']
    remote_url "{github_repo}.git"
    repo_path node['delivery']['workspace']['repo']
    cache_path node['delivery']['workspace']['cache']
    action :push

This example is part of the publish.rb recipe in the delivery-truck cookbook:

Using a Chef Vault

This section describes how to use Chef vault in Chef Automate.

Create a Chef Vault

In order to use Chef vaults you must follow hierarchical naming standard for your Chef vaults under the workflow-vaults data bag:


For example, if the chef enterprise has a cookbooks organization with a mysql project, it would have the naming schema:

During the creation of a Chef vault, the data in these vaults are merged into a single Ruby hash. Any duplicate key names will be merged as follows:
  • <ENT>-<ORG>-<PROJECT> will overwrite <ENT>-<ORG> and <ENT>.
  • <ENT>-<ORG> will overwrite <ENT>.

Using Secrets in a Chef Vault

To access your secret data from the vault items, ensure that metadata.rb for the build-cookbook shows that it depends on the delivery-sugar cookbook ( From there, begin using the secrets by calling the get_chef_vault_data method.

For example:

vault = get_workflow_vault_data
puts vault['my_key']