Secret management solutions allow organizations, IT security teams, and DevOps teams to improve the security of their application development processes. They do this by ensuring the safe storage and use of corporate “secrets,” a term that refers to private information including account credentials, passwords, certificates, API keys, SSH keys, encryption keys and more.
It’s critical that these corporate secrets are kept secure. A worrying 61% of data breaches involve the use of stolen credentials, and this high-value data can be weaponized by cybercriminals, enabling them to access applications and disrupt business productivity. However, these secrets are often publicly available, hard coded in applications, or stored in automated processes—making it all too easy for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to company information.
Secret management solutions are designed to negate this risk, allowing teams to securely store, manage and share access to corporate secrets from within an encrypted vault, ensuring legal compliance and enabling users to easily access their necessary credentials. As well as allowing teams to securely access and share credentials when needed, these solutions enable admin teams to easily manage policies and audit access to this data.
In this list, we’ll consider the top 9 secret managers for application
security. We’ll cover their key features, deployment, ease of use and customer reviews to help you decide which solution is the best fit for your organization.
The Secrets Automation tool from 1Password is a robust and secure secrets management system that dutifully protects your company’s secrets, supplying them when and where they are needed. The solution can protect your usual standard secrets like credentials, tokens, sensitive data and more, as well as API tokens, application keys, and private certificates.
1Password’s Secrets Automation leverages the same security architecture as used by 1Password’s password management security, ensuring air-tight safety for your most precious and sensitive information. While 1Password provides the security framework to house your information, all secrets are fully encrypted with only admins possessing the decryption keys, ensuring that not even 1Password can access your information and data.
1Password’s Secrets Automation can provide extensive visibility into what secrets have actually been accessed, with admins able to request access logs to find which tokens have accessed secrets. For extra security, admins can employ the principle of least privilege for users, and enable granular controls that define who has access to what. The platform is easily integrated with a range of other products and can easily connect to server logs, including integration of process logs into SIEM tools or other logging tools to provide further visibility. It provides secrets’ management all from one place, ensuring maximum security and no disconnected audit logs.
Overall, 1Password Secrets Automation is an easily-integrated tool that offers robust security, flexible access, and extensive granular controls that can be managed easily from one consolidated platform.
Akeyless is a SaaS secret manager platform that allows DevOps teams to create, store and secure important credentials, certificates, keys and more in a secure vault. The platform allows users to store a range of company secrets, including encryption keys, SSH Keys, certificates, API keys, DB credentials, passwords and more. The platform is fully featured, supporting timed secrets, passwordless DevOps tools, script and source codes, PKI certificate automation and more.
Akeyless is a strong solution for ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. The platform segregates access to corporate secrets at various levels, allowing admins to easily implement least privilege access to users. The platform collects detailed audit logs of all user activity for auditing and compliance purposes and provides comprehensive analytics and insights into your secrets posture, which can be integrated with your SIEM platform.
Akeyless integrates with authentication providers including Okta, AWS IAM and Azure Active Directory to provide seamless access to users and allow admins to automatically push secrets into the secure password vault. The platform is fully cloud-based, with no deployment required. It also includes backup and disaster recovery. We recommend Akeyless’ solution for DevOps teams looking for a comprehensive secret manager with well-developed integrations and automated workflows.
AWS Secrets Manager is Amazon Web Services’ secret management tool, designed to help DevOps teams easily manage and rotate key credentials, including database credentials, API keys, and other corporate secrets. Users and applications can retrieve securely stored secrets with the use of an API, removing the requirement for this information to be hard coded in plain text. Admins can manage access to these secrets by configuring permissions and policies to enforce rotation for AWS cloud resources, third-party services, and on-premises applications. The platform also offers comprehensive auditing functionality.
AWS Secrets Manager integrates with a range of solutions, including Amazon’s own products (Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, Amazon DocumentDB), and automatically rotates these credentials without putting any extra burden on IT departments, mitigating the risk of stagnant credentials. The solution can also be used to extend this rotation to other corporate secrets, including API keys and authentication tokens. Retrieving secrets directly from AWS ensures they are always up to date and reduces the risk of a data breach.
Admins can configure granular access management policies that govern access to secrets—such as only allowing developers to access passwords—when the request is coming from within the corporate IT network. All access is logged and monitored with AWS’ centralized auditing tool, which can be configured to notify admins when a secret is deleted, for example. AWS Secrets Manager is an effective secret management platform that we would recommend for AWS developers due to its native integrations and established feature set. Pricing is pay as you go, and the solution includes disaster recovery scenarios.
Conjur is CyberArk’s cloud-based enterprise secret management platform that supports secure storage of data for containerized applications and DevOps tools. It secures credentials used by applications and scripts, allowing DevOps teams to remove hard coded secrets from codes and tools, and enabling admins to more easily manage and rotate credentials. The platform integrates with a wide range of DevOps tools and container orchestration platforms and supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments. It provides flexible APIs to simplify how applications access secrets and resources.
Conjur Secrets Manager improves organization security and reduces the risk of data breaches by allowing teams to manage and monitor all credentials used by applications, scripts, and non-human identities. Secrets are kept secure and hidden and are automatically rotated to reduce the risk of unauthorized access. The platform also provides full auditing and reporting of user access to secrets, allowing teams to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
Conjur Secrets Manager is part of the CyberArk Identity Security platform, which also includes privileged access management, workforce identity management, and more. CyberArk also offers Conjur as an open-source platform, allowing DevOps teams to secure and authenticate containers, and more. We’d recommend this solution for teams looking for comprehensive secret management; particularly those already leveraging CyberArk’s identity management platform.
Doppler is a secret manager application that allows organizations of all sizes to keep their secrets and app configurations secure across all devices, environments, and team members. This solution allows DevOps teams to consolidate all secrets into one cloud-based application, rather than having them scattered across multiple platforms and services. These can then be synced across to other platforms or storage management services, such as AWS.
Doppler is easy to manage and user-friendly. The secret manager dashboard organizes secrets around different projects, allowing developers to easily access information when and where they need it, at a glance. Projects are easy to create and manage, and files and secrets can be easily imported and synced across platforms. Doppler supports native integrations with a wide range of applications, including AWS, Azure, Cloudflare, GitHub and more, to help you deploy secrets to production.
Doppler is a strong secret manager for DevOps teams. The platform is free to sign-up on and use, and provides a strong range of features for developers—particularly those needing to manage secrets across multiple platforms and services. Doppler allows teams to share and manage secrets collaboratively, and provides a roll-back feature, with full auditing and logs when changes have been made.
Google Cloud Secrets Manager enables DevOps teams to securely store secrets, including API keys, passwords and more. It provides a central dashboard for storing all important secrets, with management policies and auditing to ensure teams are legally compliant.
Google ensures that secrets are kept highly secure; data is encrypted in transit with TLS, and at rest with AES-256-bit encryption. Secret data is immutable, and users can pin aliases to secrets to improve security even further. The platform offers a range of API integrations, easily extending into other systems and platforms, such as GitHub. The solution also integrates with Google’s Cloud identity management platform to enable role-based access and permissions.
Google Secrets Manager enables admins to fully manage all corporate secrets. Secrets can be shared across teams, with user-level access policies to ensure the principle of least privilege is followed. Admins can also automate credential rotation to improve security without impacting productivity, as secrets are regularly updated for all users with access to the secret management platform.
Google Cloud Secrets Manager is praised by users for its ease of use and integrations with existing applications and infrastructure. We’d recommend this solution for DevOps teams—particularly those already in Google’s security ecosystem—looking for a way to secure their corporate secrets and automate credential rotation to implement the principle of least privilege.
HashiCorp is a popular cloud application automation provider, providing a number of solutions to help secure and connect cloud infrastructure. HashiCorp Vault is a secret manager platform designed to help DevOps teams secure cloud application secrets, including tokens, passwords, certificates, encryption keys, or other sensitive data. The platform is available as both a self-managed, open-source platform and a managed, cloud-based vault.
HashiCorp Vault encrypts secrets within the secure vault, prior to writing them to existing storage. This ensures that even if a malicious actor was able to access raw storage, they still wouldn’t be able to access corporate secrets. The platform can also generate dynamic, one-time secrets, which can be automatically revoked after a set amount of time. Vault can also encrypt and decrypt data without storing it.
HashiCorp controls access to corporate secrets, ensuring credentials can only be accessed by authorized users and automating credential rotation to improve security. User identity can be continuously verified with integrations to leading identity management platforms, including Google Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Okta, and Ping Identity. Vault is a popular secret manager within the developer community; users praise the service for its flexibly and multiple use cases.
Keeper Secrets Manager is a cloud-based secret management solution, which allows users to securely store infrastructure secrets, API keys, certificates, passwords, access keys, and more. Secrets Manager is easy to use and manage, allowing DevOps teams to consolidate all of their secrets on one secure platform.
Each user can manage an unlimited number of secrets in their own private vault via a web portal, browser extension, desktop or mobile app. Secrets can be securely and easily shared across teams, with integrations with Microsoft Teams and Slack. Users can access their vault using SAML 2.0 passwordless authentication, or a master password. Secrets Manager integrates with all popular CI/CD systems and all major programming languages, and supports any type of machine.
Secrets Manager is fully cloud-based and does not require any hosted software, complex deployments, or any new infrastructure. The platform is highly secure, encrypting all secrets without having access to your environment, hardware, or instances. Admins can manage enforcement policies, users, provisioning, reporting and auditing through the admin console. The platform is fully managed, with an always-on API allowing users to access their vault securely from any device at any time.
Keeper Secrets Manager is a secure, user-friendly, fully featured secret manager platform, which we would recommend to businesses and development teams of all sizes. The platform is a strong choice for organizations using Keeper’s enterprise password management solution, which integrates natively with this platform and allows users and admins to manage important credentials and development secrets easily and securely on one intuitive platform.
Azure Key Vault is Microsoft’s secret management solution that allows DevOps teams to securely store cryptographic keys and other important data for cloud applications and services. This platform supports two types of containers for secrets: vaults and managed hardware security module pools. Vaults support software keys, secrets and certificates, HSM supports HSM-backed keys.
Key Vault offers highly secure secret storage, enforcing TLS encryption to protect data in transit and when stored in the vault. All keys are safeguarded by Azure, using algorithms, key lengths and hardware security models. Users can import and manage their own keys in Azure, which then automatically runs operations when SaaS applications need to use the keys.
Microsoft Azure Key Vault is designed to be used by Azure developers, SaaS software developers and Chief Security Officers, who can utilize the platform to ensure keys are securely stored and kept immutable, via a single control interface. Anybody with an Azure subscription can create and use key vaults, making it a strong choice for existing Azure users looking to implement a secrets management solution.
What Is Secrets Management?
Secrets Management is a term used in DevOps process to refer to the management of “secrets,” which can include digital authentication credentials such as passwords, APIs, tokens, certificates and keys used for accessing applications, accounts services and more.
Using a Secrets Management solution ensures that these critical secrets can only be accessed by authenticated users, by storing them in a secure, but easy to access vault, in much the same way a password manager works with passwords.
Role-based access controls, automated credential rotation and auditing features used to regulate access to these secrets and help reduce the risk of a data breach and ensure compliance with industry regulates that mandate data to be securely stored.
Why Is Secrets Management Important?
We asked Zane Bond, Director of Product Management at Keeper Security why it is so important for secrets to be stored in a secure secrets management solution:
“You hear this statistic all the time: 80% of breaches involve credentials in some way, shape or form. They are a high-value target for an attacker. But in general, the attacker is not trying to get your desktop password. That’s not the goal. The valuable information is in your environment––it could be your source code, it could be your customer lists, it could be where you store credit card information, it could be where you store all HR information or documents.
Those types of data are usually accessed exclusively by machines. So typically, the entry point [for an attack] will be a desktop or laptop, because somebody clicked on something. But after that, there’s going to be recon to figure out the environment and there’s going to lateral movement in your environment to get to the crown jewels.
Secrets management helps protect those most sensitive credentials. So that when somebody is spelunking around your network and doing recon, and they find an apache config file and they’re like, “Sweet, I’m on the web server, I found it!” there’s no password in there, so they can’t directly connect to the database. That’s why it’s so important to protect these secrets—they access your crown jewels.”