Your First Secret
If you successfully completed the steps in Starting the
Server, you started the dev server
and exported the
VAULT_TOKEN to the initial root token value so that
login is not required to authenticate. If you have not yet completed those
steps, please review that tutorial and do so before proceeding here.
Now that the dev server is up and running, let's get straight to it and read and write your first secret.
This tutorial includes a free interactive command-line lab that lets you follow along on actual cloud infrastructure.
Key/Value secrets engine
When running Vault in dev mode, Key/Value v2 secrets
engine is enabled at
secret/ path. Key/Value secrets engine is a generic key-value store used to
store arbitrary secrets within the configured physical storage for Vault.
Secrets written to Vault are encrypted and then written to backend storage.
Therefore, the backend storage mechanism never sees the unencrypted value and
doesn't have the means necessary to decrypt it without Vault.
Key/Value secrets engine has version 1 and 2. The difference is that v2 provides versioning of secrets and v1 does not.
vault kv <subcommand> [options]
[args] command to interact with
K/V secrets engine.
|Subcommand||kv v1||kv v2||Description|
|delete||x||x||Delete versions of secrets stored in K/V|
|destroy||x||Permanently remove one or more versions of secrets|
|enable-versioning||x||Turns on versioning for an existing K/V v1 store|
|list||x||x||List data or secrets|
|metadata||x||Interact with Vault's Key-Value storage|
|patch||x||Update secrets without overwriting existing secrets|
|put||x||x||Sets or update secrets (this replaces existing secrets)|
|rollback||x||Rolls back to a previous version of secrets|
|undelete||x||Restore the deleted version of secrets|
To learn more about Key/Value v1 secrets engine, go through the Static Secrets: Key/Value Secrets Engine tutorial.
Get command help
You can interact with key/value secrets engine using the
vault kv command. Get
the command help.
$ vault kv -help Usage: vault kv <subcommand> [options] [args] This command has subcommands for interacting with Vault's key-value store. Here are some simple examples, and more detailed examples are available in the subcommands or the documentation. Create or update the key named "foo" in the "secret" mount with the value "bar=baz": $ vault kv put -mount=secret foo bar=baz Read this value back: $ vault kv get -mount=secret foo Get metadata for the key: $ vault kv metadata get -mount=secret foo Get a specific version of the key: $ vault kv get -mount=secret -version=1 foo The deprecated path-like syntax can also be used, but this should be avoided for KV v2, as the fact that it is not actually the full API path to the secret (secret/data/foo) can cause confusion: $ vault kv get secret/foo Please see the individual subcommand help for detailed usage information. Subcommands: delete Deletes versions in the KV store destroy Permanently removes one or more versions in the KV store enable-versioning Turns on versioning for a KV store get Retrieves data from the KV store list List data or secrets metadata Interact with Vault's Key-Value storage patch Sets or updates data in the KV store without overwriting put Sets or updates data in the KV store rollback Rolls back to a previous version of data undelete Undeletes versions in the KV store
Write a secret
Before you begin, check the command help.
$ vault kv put -help
The help provides command examples along with optional parameters that you can use.
Now, write a key-value secret to the path
hello , with a key of
foo and value of
vault kv put command against the mount path
secret, which is where the KV v2 secrets engine is mounted. This command creates a new version of the secrets
and replaces any pre-existing data at the path if any.
$ vault kv put -mount=secret hello foo=world == Secret Path == secret/data/hello ======= Metadata ======= Key Value --- ----- created_time 2022-06-15T19:36:54.389113Z custom_metadata <nil> deletion_time n/a destroyed false version 1
You will learn about paths in more detail later, but for now it is important that the
mount path to the KV v2 secrets engine is provided with
-mount=secret, otherwise this example won't work. The
secret mount path (which was automatically set up for you when you started your Vault server in
-dev mode) is where arbitrary secrets can be read and written.
flag provided but not defined: -mount error means you are using an older version of Vault from before this syntax was introduced.
Upgrade to at least Vault 1.11, or use the old syntax (
secret/hello instead of
-mount=secret hello) for any commands in this guide.
kv put you can even write multiple pieces of data.
$ vault kv put -mount=secret hello foo=world excited=yes == Secret Path == secret/data/hello ======= Metadata ======= Key Value --- ----- created_time 2022-06-15T19:49:06.761365Z custom_metadata <nil> deletion_time n/a destroyed false version 2
Notice that the
version is now
The examples in this tutorial use the
<key>=<value> input to
send secrets to Vault. However, sending data as a part of the CLI command often
end up in the shell history unencrypted. To avoid this, refer to the Static
Secrets: Key/Value Secrets
tutorial to learn different approaches.
Read a secret
As you might expect, secrets can be retrieved with
vault kv get.
$ vault kv get -mount=secret hello == Secret Path == secret/data/hello ======= Metadata ======= Key Value --- ----- created_time 2022-01-15T01:40:09.888293Z custom_metadata <nil> deletion_time n/a destroyed false version 2 ===== Data ===== Key Value --- ----- excited yes foo world
Vault returns the latest version (in this case version
2) of the secrets at
To print only the value of a given field, use the
$ vault kv get -mount=secret -field=excited hello yes
Optional JSON output is very useful for scripts. For example, you can use the
jq tool to extract the value of the
$ vault kv get -mount=secret -format=json hello | jq -r .data.data.excited yes
Delete a secret
Now that you've learned how to read and write a secret, let's go ahead
and delete it. You can do so using the
vault kv delete command.
$ vault kv delete -mount=secret hello Success! Data deleted (if it existed) at: secret/data/hello
Try to read the secret you just deleted.
$ vault kv get -mount=secret hello == Secret Path == secret/data/hello ======= Metadata ======= Key Value --- ----- created_time 2022-01-15T01:40:09.888293Z custom_metadata <nil> deletion_time 2022-01-15T01:40:41.786995Z destroyed false version 2
The output only displays the metadata with
deletion_time. It does not display
the data itself once it is deleted. Notice that the
destroyed parameter is
false which means that you can recover the deleted data if the deletion was
$ vault kv undelete -mount=secret -versions=2 hello Success! Data written to: secret/undelete/hello
Now, the data is recovered.
$ vault kv get -mount=secret hello ======= Metadata ======= Key Value --- ----- created_time 2022-01-15T01:40:09.888293Z custom_metadata <nil> deletion_time n/a destroyed false version 2 ===== Data ===== Key Value --- ----- excited yes foo world
This quick start tutorial only touches the surface of the key/value v2 secrets engine capabilities. To learn more, go through the Versioned Key/Value Secrets Engine tutorial which will walk you through the key/value v2 secrets engine in greater depth.
In this tutorial, you 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. Key/Value secrets engine is one of the secrets engines that Vault offers.
Continue to the Secrets Engine tutorial for a quick tour of Vault secrets engines.
You may notice other tutorials on our site using the
kv CLI commands with
a different syntax (
$ vault kv get secret/foo instead of the
$ vault kv get -mount=secret foo that we've shown you here). Either style
will have the same end result, but we recommend the more explicit
syntax when working with KV secrets engine v2, as it can avoid confusion later
when you need to refer to the secret by its full path (
writing policies or raw API calls.
Help and reference
This tutorial only touched the basis of the Key/Value secrets engine. To learn more about the features of Key/Value secrets engines, go through the following tutorials: