How to use AWS Secrets Manager to rotate credentials for all Amazon RDS database types, including Oracle
August 31, 2021: AWS KMS is replacing the term customer master key (CMK) with AWS KMS key and KMS key. The concept has not changed. To prevent breaking changes, AWS KMS is keeping some variations of this term. More info.
You can now use AWS Secrets Manager to rotate credentials for Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, or MariaDB databases hosted on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) automatically. Previously, I showed how to rotate credentials for a MySQL database hosted on Amazon RDS automatically with AWS Secrets Manager. With today’s launch, you can use Secrets Manager to automatically rotate credentials for all types of databases hosted on Amazon RDS.
In this post, I review the key features of Secrets Manager. You’ll then learn:
- How to store the database credential for the superuser of an Oracle database hosted on Amazon RDS
- How to store the Oracle database credential used by an application
- How to configure Secrets Manager to rotate both Oracle credentials automatically on a schedule that you define
Key features of Secrets Manager
AWS Secrets Manager makes it easier to rotate, manage, and retrieve database credentials, API keys, and other secrets throughout their lifecycle. The key features of this service include the ability to:
- Secure and manage secrets centrally. You can store, view, and manage all your secrets centrally. By default, Secrets Manager encrypts these secrets with encryption keys that you own and control. You can use fine-grained IAM policies or resource-based policies to control access to your secrets. You can also tag secrets to help you discover, organize, and control access to secrets used throughout your organization.
- Rotate secrets safely. You can configure Secrets Manager to rotate secrets automatically without disrupting your applications. Secrets Manager offers built-in integrations for rotating credentials for all Amazon RDS databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MariaDB, and Amazon Aurora.) You can also extend Secrets Manager to meet your custom rotation requirements by creating an AWS Lambda function to rotate other types of secrets.
- Transmit securely. Secrets are transmitted securely over Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol 1.2. You can also use Secrets Manager with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) endpoints powered by AWS Privatelink to keep this communication within the AWS network and help meet your compliance and regulatory requirements to limit public internet connectivity.
- Pay as you go. Pay for the secrets you store in Secrets Manager and for the use of these secrets; there are no long-term contracts, licensing fees, or infrastructure and personnel costs. For example, a typical production-scale web application will generate an estimated monthly bill of $6. If you follow along the instructions in this blog post, your estimated monthly bill for Secrets Manager will be $1. Note: you may incur additional charges for using Amazon RDS and Amazon Lambda, if you’ve already consumed the free tier for these services.
Now that you’re familiar with Secrets Manager features, I’ll show you how to store and automatically rotate credentials for an Oracle database hosted on Amazon RDS. I divided these instructions into three phases:
- Phase 1: Store and configure rotation for the superuser credential
- Phase 2: Store and configure rotation for the application credential
- Phase 3: Retrieve the credential from Secrets Manager programmatically
To follow along, your AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) principal (user or role) requires the SecretsManagerReadWrite AWS managed policy to store the secrets. Your principal also requires the IAMFullAccess AWS managed policy to create and configure permissions for the IAM role used by Lambda for executing rotations. You can use IAM permissions boundaries to grant an employee the ability to configure rotation without also granting them full administrative access to your account.
Phase 1: Store and configure rotation for the superuser credential
From the Secrets Manager console, on the right side, select Store a new secret.
Since I’m storing credentials for database hosted on Amazon RDS, I select Credentials for RDS database. Next, I input the user name and password for the superuser. I start by securing the superuser because it’s the most powerful database credential and has full access to the database.
For this example, I choose to use the default encryption settings. Secrets Manager will encrypt this secret using the Secrets Manager DefaultEncryptionKey in this account. Alternatively, I can choose to encrypt using an AWS KMS key that I have stored in AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). To learn more, read the Using Your AWS KMS key documentation.
Next, I view the list of Amazon RDS instances in my account and select the database this credential accesses. For this example, I select the DB instance oracle-rds-database from the list, and then I select Next.
I then specify values for Secret name and Description. For this example, I use Database/Development/Oracle-Superuser as the name and enter a description of this secret, and then select Next.
Since this database is not yet being used, I choose to enable rotation. To do so, I select Enable automatic rotation, and then set the rotation interval to 60 days. Remember, if this database credential is currently being used, first update the application (see phase 3) to use Secrets Manager APIs to retrieve secrets before enabling rotation.
Next, Secrets Manager requires permissions to rotate this secret on my behalf. Because I’m storing the credentials for the superuser, Secrets Manager can use this credential to perform rotations. Therefore, on the same screen, I select Use a secret that I have previously stored in AWS Secrets Manager, and then select Next.
Finally, I review the information on the next screen. Everything looks correct, so I select Store. I have now successfully stored a secret in Secrets Manager.
Note: Secrets Manager will now create a Lambda function in the same VPC as my Oracle database and trigger this function periodically to change the password for the superuser. I can view the name of the Lambda function on the Rotation configuration section of the Secret Details page.
The banner on the next screen confirms that I’ve successfully configured rotation and the first rotation is in progress, which enables me to verify that rotation is functioning as expected. Secrets Manager will rotate this credential automatically every 60 days.
Phase 2: Store and configure rotation for the application credential
The superuser is a powerful credential that should be used only for administrative tasks. To enable your applications to access a database, create a unique database credential per application and grant these credentials limited permissions. You can use these database credentials to read or write to database tables required by the application. As a security best practice, deny the ability to perform management actions, such as creating new credentials.
In this phase, I will store the credential that my application will use to connect to the Oracle database. To get started, from the Secrets Manager console, on the right side, select Store a new secret.
Next, I select Credentials for RDS database, and input the user name and password for the application credential.
I continue to use the default encryption key. I select the DB instance oracle-rds-database, and then select Next.
I specify values for Secret Name and Description. For this example, I use Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User as the name and enter a description of this secret, and then select Next.
I now configure rotation. Once again, since my application is not using this database credential yet, I’ll configure rotation as part of storing this secret. I select Enable automatic rotation, and set the rotation interval to 60 days.
Next, Secrets Manager requires permissions to rotate this secret on behalf of my application. Earlier in the post, I mentioned that applications credentials have limited permissions and are unable to change their password. Therefore, I will use the superuser credential, Database/Development/Oracle-Superuser, that I stored in Phase 1 to rotate the application credential. With this configuration, Secrets Manager creates a clone application user.
Note: Creating a clone application user is the preferred mechanism of rotation because the old version of the secret continues to operate and handle service requests while the new version is prepared and tested. There’s no application downtime while changing between versions.
I review the information on the next screen. Everything looks correct, so I select Store. I have now successfully stored the application credential in Secrets Manager.
As mentioned in Phase 1, AWS Secrets Manager creates a Lambda function in the same VPC as the database and then triggers this function periodically to rotate the secret. Since I chose to use the existing superuser secret to rotate the application secret, I will grant the rotation Lambda function permissions to retrieve the superuser secret. To grant this permission, I first select role from the confirmation banner.
Next, in the Permissions tab, I select SecretsManagerRDSMySQLRotationMultiUserRolePolicy0. Then I select Edit policy.
In this step, I update the policy (see below) and select Review policy. When following along, remember to replace the placeholder ARN-OF-SUPERUSER-SECRET with the ARN of the secret you stored in Phase 1.
Here’s what it will look like:
Next, I select Save changes. I have now completed all the steps required to configure rotation for the application credential, Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User.
Phase 3: Retrieve the credential from Secrets Manager programmatically
Now that I have stored the secret in Secrets Manager, I add code to my application to retrieve the database credential from Secrets Manager. I use the sample code from Phase 2 above. This code sets up the client and retrieves and decrypts the secret Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User.
Remember, applications require permissions to retrieve the secret, Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User, from Secrets Manager. My application runs on Amazon EC2 and uses an IAM role to obtain access to AWS services. I attach the following policy to my IAM role. This policy uses the GetSecretValue action to grant my application permissions to read secret from Secrets Manager. This policy also uses the resource element to limit my application to read only the Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User secret from Secrets Manager. You can refer to the Secrets Manager Documentation to understand the minimum IAM permissions required to retrieve a secret.
In the above policy, remember to replace the placeholder <AWS-REGION> with the AWS region that you’re using and the placeholder <ACCOUNT-NUMBER> with the number of your AWS account.
I explained the key benefits of Secrets Manager as they relate to RDS and showed you how to help meet your compliance requirements by configuring Secrets Manager to rotate database credentials automatically on your behalf. Secrets Manager helps you protect access to your applications, services, and IT resources without the upfront investment and on-going maintenance costs of operating your own secrets management infrastructure. To get started, visit the Secrets Manager console. To learn more, visit Secrets Manager documentation.
If you have comments about this post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have questions about anything in this post, start a new thread on the Secrets Manager forum.
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