How to use Secure Properties

Description

To ensure a higher level of credential security that may be required in specific industries, ACLI 11.0 introduces the Secure Properties functionality.

Secure Properties augments the acli.properties file, mitigating any breach of security that could occur if the ACLI configuration files were to escape your system.

Solution

The Secure Properties in ACLI 11.0 provides a key-store-based credential storage solution using password based encryption (PBE). The specific key store format is the UBER format, provided by the excellent Bouncy Castle cryptography library for Java.

The Secure Properties key store can store any value, while it prevents sensitive credentials from being stored as plain text on disk.

The use of Secure Properties is optional.

Once you have configured the use of Secure Properties, ACLI will require the password before executing any actions. The password can be provided interactively each time ACLI is run, or via an environment variable.

The ACLI Shell can create Secure Properties entries as part of its guided site configuration functionality, which can be launched using the slash-command, /sites add.

If you forget the password to a Secure Properties key store, the only solution is to manually rename or delete the file (we recommend renaming if there’s any hope you will later remember the password).

The key store file is named .acli.keystore and can be found in your user home directory.

Appfire support cannot recover data stored in these files if you forget your password!

Working with Secure Properties

Secure Properties adds actions for creating, updating, reading, and deleting values in an encrypted key store. This key store can then act as a source of variable values that can be referenced in acli.properties.

Prior to the introduction of secure properties, resolution of variables in the acli.properties configuration file included a search of these locations:

  1. other properties defined in acli.properties

  2. Java system properties

  3. runtime environment variables

The Secure Properties key store adds a 4th location from which variables may be resolved. By default, this location is only consulted for values if the variable name contains the secret: prefix.

Using Secure Properties consists of three main steps:

Creating a key store

When you create the key store file (named .acli.keystore), it can be found in your home directory.
Each ACLI user on a given system has their own such file. Note that on a multi-user system, each user is required to maintain their own ACLI installation.

The key store file path can be overridden to point to an alternative location through the use of the environment variable ACLI_SECURE_PROPERTIES. This can be useful if you need to work with multiple key stores or multiple installations of ACLI.

When a secure property is first added, ACLI:

  1. First prompts for the value of the secret to be stored.

  2. Prompts for the new key store file password (with confirmation).

To create your key store, run the action setSecureProperty, as shown in the example:

$ acli system setSecureProperty --name my.secret --secret - Enter secure value: <secret value prompt> Secure properties file does not yet exist. Creating... Enter new secure properties password: <new password prompt> Confirm secure properties password: <new password prompt> Secure properties file created. Value for key 'foo' set in secure properties file.

 

Referencing secrets in acli.properties

When in use, the key store file can be used to provide values to acli.propertiesby way of substitution variables similar to the current method of referring to environment variables or other properties (i.e., using ${my.variable} syntax).

The syntax for referring to key store values is a variation of the syntax of the form ${secret:my.secret} (note the addition of the secret: prefix).

Unlocking the key store

When the ACLI configuration refers to secure property values (i.e., using ${secret:...} style variables in acli.properties), each time that you run an ACLI command (including starting the ACLI Shell), you are prompted to unlock the key store.

Normally, this means that ACLI prompts you for your key store password before it continues (or reads it from stdin when not connected to a tty). To short-circuit the prompting behavior, set the environment variable ACLI_SECURE_PROPERTIES_PASSWORD with your password as a value.

Actions

Use ACLI actions, part of the ACLI system client, to create, update, read, and delete key-value pairs stored in the Secure Properties key store.

To use a secure property in acli.properties, follow the example as illustrated here:

my-jira = jiracloud -s https://myjira.atlassian.net -u me@example.com -t ${secret:my-jira.token}

The Actions and Examples table shows how you can work with the secure properties and provides examples.

Actions and Examples

Actions and Examples

setSecureProperty

This action sets or overwrites a secure property in the key store. If a property name already exists, you are prompted to confirm that you wish to overwrite the value. Use --replace to skip the confirmation prompt.

Example: Set Secure Property

$ acli system -a setSecureProperty --name my-jira.token --secret Enter secure properties password: <password prompt> Value for key 'my-jira.token' set in secure properties file.

clearSecureProperties

This action clears the entire secure properties key store file. To ensure that a value is not accidentally removed, you are prompted for confirmation. If you add the --force parameter, the secure property file is removed without confirmation.
To complete the action, you are prompted to insert the key store password.

Example: Clear all Secure Properties

getSecureProperty

This action retrieves a secure property from the key store. By default, it only indicates whether the named entry exists in the key store. To retrieve the property value as well, use: --outputFormat 2.

Example: Get Secure Property

Example: Get Secure Property with value

 

importSecureProperties

This action allows you to import secure properties from another key store file to your default key store. To do so, you need the password for both the source and destination key stores.
OPTIONS

  • Use the --replace parameter to avoid being asked to confirm overwriting properties during import.

  • Use the --include and --exclude parameters to filter the properties being imported.

Note that each of the imported properties, take a regular expression value that is evaluated against the list of keys in the source key store.

The following examples assume that both .acli.keystore and import.keystore contain entries for the keys foo and bar.

Example: Import Secure Properties

Example: Import select Secure Properties (via inclusion) with replacement

 

removeSecureProperty

This action removes a secure property from the key store. To ensure that a value is not accidentally removed, you are prompted for confirmation.

If you add the --force parameter, the secure property is removed without confirmation.

If after this operation the key store is empty, it is automatically removed.

Example: Remove a Secure Property

Example: Force remove a Secure Property (with deletion of empty key store)

exportSecureProperties

This action allows you to export secure properties from your default key store to another key store file. To do so, you need the password for both the source and destination key stores.

OPTIONS

  • Use the --replace parameter to avoid being asked to confirm overwriting properties during export.

  • Use the --include and --exclude parameters to filter the properties being exported.

Note that each of the exported properties, take a regular expression value that is evaluated against the list of keys in the source key store.

The following examples assumes that both .acli.keystore and import.keystore contain entries for the keys foo and bar.

Example: Export select Secure Properties (via exclusion) with replacement

 

getSecurePropertyList

This action returns all secure properties from the key store. To retrieve the list of property values as well, use: --outputFormat 2.

Example: Get Secure Property list

Example: Get Secure Property list with values

 

 

Locating your Secure Properties key store

Your key store is normally located in your home directory and is named .acli.keystore. ACLI displays the file path as part of the detailed getClientInfo output (if it exists).

Example: Display key store file path