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A secrets manager for AWS and GCP

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A secrets manager for AWS and GCP

$ discreetly set acme/github/api-token my-secret-api-key
$ discreetly get acme/github/api-token
$ discreetly --profile prod list acme/
['acme/prod/postgres/passwd', 'acme/prod/github/api-token']

Applications often require access to secrets such as database passwords or API keys. A really bad way to manage those secrets would be to bake them into your code and then check them into source control. Marginally better would be storing secrets in environment variables. If your applications are running on AWS or GCP, both platforms provide tooling for better secrets management.

discreetly provides a consistent API for managing secrets across both AWS and GCP. It encourages you to partition your secrets and encryption keys so that your web application only has access to the secrets it needs to run and not, for example, access to infrastructure secrets only needed by your infrastructure management tools.


discreetly does not set up any infrastructure for you. At a minimum, you need to have i) credentials available for authenticating with AWS and/or Google, ii) permissions to use KMS to encrypt and decrypt secrets, and iii) permissions to read/write to the underlying store.

To install the discreetly cli with support for AWS and GCP:

$ pip install discreetly[cli]

For use as a library, install discreetly specifying which backends you need to support, e.g.:

$ pip install discreetly[aws,gcp]


discreetly can be configured with a JSON file, e.g.:

  "acme": {
    "type": "aws"
  "default": {
    "type": "gcp",
    "datastore_project": "acme-corp",
    "keyid": "projects/acme-corp-kms/locations/global/keyRings/discreetly/cryptoKeys/default"

In the above example, the configuration contains two profiles, "acme" and "default". A profile must specify a type, either "aws" or "gcp".

Because a profile can specify a keyid, you can have named profiles not only for different cloud providers but for different KMS keys, e.g. one for dev, another for prod.

discreetly will search for a configuration file at the location provided by the environment variable DISCREETLY_CONFIG_FILE, falling back to a file named discreetly.json in the current directory.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What about credstash/Chamber/Vault/etc.?

    discreetly was actually inspired by credstash. However, credstash only supports AWS and it pre-dates Parameter Store. That said, there are use cases where a DynamoDB backend might be preferred (e.g. parameters greater than 4096 characters).

    Chamber is excellent choice, especially in a Go environment or if you only need AWS support.

    Vault is great if you have the resources to support it.


Most issues are related to authentication or permissions with your cloud provider.

With the discreetly cli, you can also change the logging level by setting the LOGLEVEL environment variable, e.g.

$ LOGLEVEL=DEBUG discreetly get my/super/secret


If you have the AWS CLI installed, verify that you can use it to access Parameter Store, e.g.:

$ aws ssm get-parameter /path/to/parameter --with-decryption

If that works, then the problem may very well be with discreetly and you should consider opening an issue.

However, if that's not working, it's likely a configuration or authentication issue. Under the hood, discreetly uses Boto 3, so consult their documentation on setting up your authentication credentials.


Unfortunately, gcloud doesn't support much of the Datastore API, so it's a little harder to sanity test any issues in your local environment.

Verify that you've followed the steps in Obtaining and providing service account credentials manually, in particular:

  1. Creating a service account
  2. Saving the JSON file for the service account locally
  3. Setting the path to the JSON file in the environment variable, GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS

Library usage

$ pip install discreetly[aws,gcp]
import discreetly

cfg = {
    "default": {
        "type": "gcp",
        "datastore_project": "acme-corp",
        "keyid": "projects/acme-corp-kms/locations/global/keyRings/discreetly/cryptoKeys/default"
    "acme-aws": {
        "type": "aws",
        "keyid: "alias/discreetly_key",

d = discreetly.Session.create(cfg) # uses the 'default' profile
d.set('my-service/my-key', 'my_value')

acme = discreetly.session.create(config=cfg, profile='acme-aws') # uses the 'acme-aws' profile
acme.set('acme/dev/postgres/password', 'open-sesame')

acme.set('acme/prod/postgres/password', 'super-secret', keyid='alias/prod_key')
acme.get('acme/prod/postgres/password') # no need to specify the keyid for get


discreetly is written in Python and supports Python 2.7 and 3.6+

After cloning the repo, run pip install -r requirements.txt to install the required development dependencies (e.g. pytest, flake8, etc.)

You can run pytest to run the unit tests locally or tox to run all the tests under Python 2.7 and 3.x.

Note from version 0.2.0 onwards, discreetly only supports Python 3.6+


  • Review and update in a new release branch

    • The following will show commits since the last tag beginning with 'v':

      $ git log $(git describe --tags --match "v*" --abbrev=0)..HEAD`
    • Replace [Unreleased] with the new semver and release date, e.g. [0.1.2] - 2019-12-13

    • Add a new [Unreleased] placeholder above the new version you just created

  • Create a new PR

    • The following lists all commits since the last tag, which may be useful for including in the PR description:

      git log --pretty=format:"* %h %s" $(git describe --tags --abbrev=0 @^)..@

  • Once the PR is merged to master and passes all status checks, create and push a new signed, annotated tag, e.g.:

    $ LAST_VERSION=$(git describe --tags --match "v*" --abbrev=0)
    $ VERSION=v0.1.1
    $ awk "/^## \[${VERSION}/{flag=1;}/## \[${LAST_VERSION}/{flag=0} flag" | git tag -s -a ${VERSION} --cleanup=whitespace -F -
    $ git push --follow-tags

    The awk command above grabs the contents of the CHANGELOG for $VERSION to include as the message for the annotated git tag. It's fairly brittle in its assumptions about the format of the CHANGELOG. so you might just run the awk command:

    awk "/^## \[${VERSION}/{flag=1;}/## \[${LAST_VERSION}/{flag=0} flag"

    as a sanity check before creating & pushing the tag.

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