Automation DevOps

Use Ansible Vault in Python

So you want to use secrets stored in Ansible Vault in your Python apps. Let’s see how to do that. If you later find this article useful take a look at the disclaimer for information on how to thank me.

If you are not familiar with Ansible Vault, go over the brief introduction below.

Store secrets in Ansible Vault

So, you might already know that storing secrets in your source code is bad. Yet, your app uses secrets and must store them in source code repository. What can you do? You can opt for a fully fledged secret storage solution (e.g. HashiCorp Vault). Yet, this is an overkill for a simple app using secrets. What can you do? The simplest thing that comes to mind is encrypting the secrets and keeping them encrypted under source control. Ansible Vault allows just that.

Storing secrets in Ansible Vault step by step

  • Create vault.yml file and add your secrets in yaml format as below:
secret_name1: val1
secret_name2: val2
  • Next, create multi_password_file. Add the password to the vault to the file and add it to .gitignore. This is the password which will encrypt the vault. Remember that if you lose this password file, you won’t be able to decrypt your Ansible vault.
  • Install ansible. Installing it will install ansible-vault binary as well and add it to your PATH.
  • Run ansible-vault encrypt vault.yml --vault-password-file multi_password_file to encrypt your vault. Afterwards, vault.yml will start with $ANSIBLE_VAULT;1.1;AES256 and will contain just numbers.
  • Run ansible-vault decrypt vault.yml --vault-password-file multi_password_file to decrypt the vault. Then you’ll see your secrets in clear text. You can safely commit vault.yml to source code repository.

Read Ansible Vault in Python

Now, let’s assume you want to use the secrets from Ansible Vault in your Python app or script. How can you read it? You can do that using ansible-vault package. Then use below Python code for reading the vault:

from pathlib import Path
from ansible_vault import Vault

vault = Vault((Path('multi_password_file').read_text()))
data = vault.load(open('vault.yml').read())

data is Python dictionary which contains the Ansible vault secrets in clear text which your app/script can use.


That’s it about using Ansible Vault in Python. As always feel free to share. If you found this article useful, take a look at the disclaimer for information on how to thank me.

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