Getting Started

Your First Secret

Now that the dev server is up and running, let's get straight to it and read and write our first secret.

One of the core features of Vault is the ability to read and write arbitrary secrets securely. On this page, we'll do this using the CLI, but there is also a complete HTTP API that can be used to programmatically do anything with Vault.

Secrets written to Vault are encrypted and then written to backend storage. For our dev server, backend storage is in-memory, but in production this would more likely be on disk or in Consul. Vault encrypts the value before it is ever handed to the storage driver. The backend storage mechanism never sees the unencrypted value and doesn't have the means necessary to decrypt it without Vault.

» Writing a Secret

Let's start by writing a secret. This is done very simply with the vault kv command, as shown below:

$ vault kv put secret/hello foo=world

Success! Data written to: secret/hello

This writes the pair foo=world to the path secret/hello. We'll cover paths in more detail later, but for now it is important that the path is prefixed with secret/, otherwise this example won't work. The secret/ prefix is where arbitrary secrets can be read and written.

You can even write multiple pieces of data, if you want:

$ vault kv put secret/hello foo=world excited=yes

Success! Data written to: secret/hello

vault kv put is a very powerful command. In addition to writing data directly from the command-line, it can read values and key pairs from STDIN as well as files. For more information, see the command documentation.

» Getting a Secret

As you might expect, secrets can be gotten with vault get:

$ vault kv get secret/hello

Key                 Value
---                 -----
refresh_interval    768h
excited             yes
foo                world

As you can see, the values we wrote are given back to us. Vault gets the data from storage and decrypts it.

The output format is purposefully whitespace separated to make it easy to pipe into a tool like awk.

This contains some extra information. Many secrets engines create leases for secrets that allow time-limited access to other systems, and in those cases lease_id would contain a lease identifier and lease_duration would contain the length of time for which the lease is valid, in seconds.

Optional JSON output is very useful for scripts. For example below we use the jq tool to extract the value of the excited secret:

$ vault kv get -format=json secret/hello | jq -r .data.data.excited

yes

When supported, you can also get a field directly:

$ vault kv get -field=excited secret/hello

yes

» Deleting a Secret

Now that we've learned how to read and write a secret, let's go ahead and delete it. We can do this with vault delete:

$ vault kv delete secret/hello

Success! Data deleted (if it existed) at: secret/hello

» Next

In this section we learned how to use the powerful CRUD features of Vault to store arbitrary secrets. On its own this is already a useful but basic feature.