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Injecting Secrets into Kubernetes Pods via Vault Agent Containers📜

The BigBang vault package supports the Vault’s agent injector service to bind vault secrets to running pods.

For a detailed description and walk-through, see Injecting Secrets into Kubernetes Pods via Vault Agent Containers

There are 3 main parts to getting secrets to Kubernetes pods:

  1. Vault Server Configuration

  2. Creating A Vault KV Secret

  3. Configure A Deployment For Injection

Vault Server Configuration📜

When autoInit is enabled, the Vault helm chart will enable the Kubernetes integration after the server is initialized. To get the root token for the vault deployment if using the BigBang developer autoInit job:

kubectl get secret -n vault vault-token -o go-template='{{.data.key | base64decode}}'

The command that configure Kubernetes:

vault auth enable kubernetes

vault write auth/kubernetes/config \
  kubernetes_host="https://$KUBERNETES_PORT_443_TCP_ADDR:443" \
  token_reviewer_jwt="$(cat /var/run/secrets/" \
  kubernetes_ca_cert=@/var/run/secrets/ \

Creating A Vault KV Secret📜

You can create a vault secret using Vault’s web interface, the vault command line interface, or the Vault API.

Creating a Vault Keystore And Secret In The BigBang Vault Server POD📜

This shows creating a vault secret using the vault command line interface which can be found in a running bigbang installation

In order to talk to the vault server. we need the admin secret which can be found with this command:

kubectl get secrets -n vault vault-token -o json | jq -r '.data["key"]' | base64 -d 

We’ll shell into the pod and configure a secret called testsecret stored under bigbang/gitlab/. The secret will store two encrypted keys: username and password. We will then create a policy called internal-app for the secret and bind the policy to a Kubernetes service account called internal-app and the mynamespace namespace.

kubectl exec -n vault -it vault-vault-0 -- /bin/sh

#inside the running pod
vault secrets enable -path=bigbang kv-v2
vault kv put bigbang/gitlab/testsecret username="bbuser1" password="password1"
vault kv get bigbang/gitlab/testsecret

# create a policy for a secret
vault policy write internal-app - <<EOF
path "bigbang/data/gitlab/testsecret" {
  capabilities = ["read"]

# bind the policy to a k8s service account and namespace
vault write auth/kubernetes/role/internal-app \
    bound_service_account_names=internal-app \
    bound_service_account_namespaces=mynamespace \
    policies=internal-app \

You should see the following messages as you run the commands:

Success! Uploaded policy: internal-app
Success! Data written to: auth/kubernetes/role/internal-app

Configure A Deployment For Injection📜

For the injection to work, we’ll create the internal-app service account we mapped earlier.

For this example, you will also need a secret to pull the example image from ironbank:

kubectl create ns mynamespace
kubectl -n mynamespace create sa internal-app
kubectl apply -n mynamespace -f <some_path>/private-registry-secret.yaml

We need to add the following annotations and service account to our deployment definition:

 annotations: 'true' 'internal-app' 'bigbang/gitlab/testsecret'
      serviceAccountName: internal-app

A complete deployment (this will also require the imagePullSecrets named private-registry installed to the namespace :

The vault-ingress: true label is required

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: mshell
    app: mshell
      app: mshell
        app: mshell
        vault-ingress: "true"
      annotations: 'true' 'true' 'internal-app' 'bigbang/data/gitlab/testsecret'
      serviceAccountName: internal-app
        - name: private-registry
      - name: mshell
        imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
        command: ["bash"]
        args: ["-c", "sleep 3600"]

Saving the full deployment above to /tmp/y.yaml, we can install it:

kubectl apply -n mynamespace -f /tmp/t.yaml 

We should see the pod was deployed with additional vault-agent containers

To test that the secret was injected, shell into the mshell pod and run

cat /vault/secrets/testsecret 

which produces:

data: map[password:password1 username:bbuser1]
metadata: map[created_time:2021-12-10T14:37:52.7041051Z deletion_time: destroyed:false version:1]

Last update: 2022-10-17 by kevin.wilder