Miscellaneous PHP

Accessing a Vault in PHP

I admit it. I was “hacked”. It was not really a hack, it was my mistake not to notice that one of my deployment logs was accessible for everyone to read and – exceptionally for a specific test performed back then – revealing configuration data including a password to an AWS service. The leakage has been fixed and the password changed. So, you don’t need to search for it anymore 🙂

However, the incident was reason enough for me to further secure my applications and introduce a vault for secret information. As most of my applications are based on PHP, I tried to find some ready-to-use code (and found a few). But all these libraries and SDKs are very heavyweight as they address much more use cases than just accessing a vault in order to fetch a secret read-only.

So I wrote a lightweight version of a PHP vault that not only accesses a Hashicorp Vault but also provides an abstract API so that my applications do not need to know what vault is being used or even where the secrets are stored.

So here is a code snippet that demonstrates how to use it with a Hashicorp Vault:

// Create configuration
$config = array(
	'type'   => 'hashicorp',
	'config' => array(
		'uri'      => '',
		'roleId'   => '<app-role-id>',
		'secretId' => '<secret-id>'

// Create the vault instance
try {
	$vault = \Vault\VaultFactory::create($config);
} catch (\Vault\VaultException $e) {
	// Vault could not be created

With that vault, I can now access my secrets transparently within application code:

try {
	$mySecret = $vault->get('my/secret");
	$username = $mySecret->get('username');
	$password = $mySecret->get('password');
} catch (\Vault\VaultException $e) {
	// secret was not found

I even can further abstract this by not even knowing that there is a vault involved:

$callback = new \Vault\CredentialsProvider($vault, 'my/secret');

try {
	$username = $callback->getUsername();
	$password = $callback->getPassword();
} catch (\Vault\VaultException $e) {
	// Secret cannot be retrieved or does not exist

I can now integrate this pattern in all my PHP projects without immediately putting the secrets in a Hashicorp vault. The framework already comes with vault implementations that are based on configuration files or objects.

All code is publicly available at GitHub for reuse. The documentation there gives more code examples on how to use other vaults, e.g. when you want to start slowly and only manage your secrets in a configuration file.