Giving My App Secrets to the AWS SecretsManager

Where I pull most of my secrets out of the .env file and store at AWS instead

Part of a Series: Designing a Full-Featured WebApp with Rust
Part 1: Piecing Together a Rust Web Application
Part 2: My Next Step in Rust Web Application Dev
Part 3: It’s Not a Web Application Without a Database
Part 4: Better Logging for the Web Application
Part 5: Rust Web App Session Management with AWS
Part 6: OAuth Requests, APIs, Diesel, and Sessions
Part 7: Scraping off the Dust: Redeploy of my Rust web app
Part 8: Giving My App Secrets to the AWS SecretManager

Mother telling a child a secret. Is AWS my child in this image??
Psst… want an API key?

I’m still working around my PinPointShooting app without actually making any app progress. You can go back to the start if you like or just jump in here. So far, I’ve had my app ids and secrets hidden inside a .env file, but rather than keep them so close to the code, lets move them into my Amazon Web Services (AWS) account. It will cost me an extra $2.40/month to store these 6 secrets (so far) at Amazon ($0.40/month/secret it claims), but it gets me more practice using the rusoto_core crate and its subsidiaries. So, here is how I went about giving all of my app secrets to the AWS SecretsManager.

Cargo.toml Changes

First, in Cargo.toml, I already have rusoto_core and rusoto_dynamodb for storing my session data. So I only need to add rusoto_secretsmanager:

slog = "2.5.0"
slog-bunyan = "2.1.0"
base64 = "0.10.1"
rand = "0.7.0"
rand_core = "0.5.0"
rust-crypto = "0.2.36"
config = "0.9.3"
serde_json = "1.0.40"
once_cell = "0.2.2"
dotenv = "0.14.1"
rocket-slog = "0.4.0"
sha2 = "0.8.0"
rusoto_core = "0.40.0"
rusoto_dynamodb = "0.40.0"
rusoto_secretsmanager = "0.40.0"
time = "0.1.42"
google-signin = "0.3.0"

Store Those Secrets in AWS

Of course, I had to log into AWS and create these 6 new secrets. In case I need more for other applications in the future, I prefixed each of these with “PPS_”. So, I created:

Secret name
List of secrets I created in my AWS account

For each, I choose the “Other type of secrets (e.g. API key)” as the type. I stored the pair as “key” and the value I wanted to protect as a secret. This becomes the very simple struct:

#[derive(Debug, Deserialize)]
struct AWSSecret {
    key: String,

So, instead of pulling these into my global CONFIG from the .env file, I want to pull them from AWS instead. This requires changes to the file. First I add the requirements at the top:

use rusoto_core::Region;
use rusoto_secretsmanager::{GetSecretValueRequest, SecretsManager, SecretsManagerClient};

plus I define the AWSSecret struct I mentioned above. Now, right after I pull in all the config settings, just before I try to turn that into a Lazy::New object to initialize the CONFIG, I need to add yet another place to pull settings from. Lets loop through each of the 6 and pull them down from AWS:

Pull Into Config

 // now pull secrets from AWS
 // note, AWS secrets include PPS_ prefix for this application
 for secret in vec![
 ] {
         .set(secret, get_secret(format!("PPS_{}", secret)).key)

So, for each Config setting stored on AWS, try to get that secret, prepending a “PPS_” in front of the secret name when checking AWS. Now I just write that get_secret() function:

get_secrets stored at AWS

fn get_secret(secret: String) -> AWSSecret {
    let secrets_manager = SecretsManagerClient::new(Region::UsEast1);
    match secrets_manager
        .get_secret_value(GetSecretValueRequest {
            secret_id: secret.clone(),
        Ok(resp) => serde_json::from_str(&resp.secret_string.unwrap()).unwrap(),
        Err(err) => panic!("Could not retrieve secret {} from AWS: {:?}", secret, err),

I’ll probably look back on this code in 6 months or a year and cringe, but this works anyway – and dies if it fails to pull a secret, which is what I want. I guess get_secret could return Some(AWSSecret) or None… but None means something in the app will break – I might as well just panic!

Of course, my AWS credentials are still stored in the .env file. Who protects the secret the protects the secrets!? Anyway, I did update the .env.sample file to reflect the new setup:

# configure for your user and rename to .env

# store as AWS secrets: key/value
#PPS_database_url   (for example "postgres://user:password@localhost/pinpoint")

As always, see to see just how little it does so far (if it happens to be running), or more exciting: go see the git repo itself.

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