For those with experience in the developer or IT space, you might be familiar with the term ‘secrets management’ — but what does it mean? In this article, we'll explore the reasons why a secrets manager is essential for security-conscious businesses.
A secrets manager is a security solution for storing secrets such as database passwords, API keys, authentication certificates, and other confidential data used by developers, DevOps, and IT teams. It serves as a central encrypted repository for these secrets and applies access controls to ensure valuable data is kept safe from malicious actors.
A secrets management solution also provides APIs or integrations to retrieve and manage secrets programmatically. Once retrieved, these secrets can be securely injected into source code or developer environments. This automation reduces the risk of human error and enhances the security posture of the entire organization.
While password and secrets managers both securely store sensitive information, they have vastly different use cases.
Password managers are designed with a broad range of users in mind and are often deployed across an entire business or enterprise. They support the secure storage of login credentials or personally identifiable information (PII) — like credit cards or mailing addresses. With a password manager, an end-user can streamline their login process by easily auto-filling credentials into websites or applications.
Secrets management solutions, however, are specifically designed for developer use cases and support the secure storage of secrets as a key/value pair to be used within DevOps and CI/CD pipelines. One core difference between a secrets manager and password manager is also who — or rather, what — can access the information. Secret management solutions not only enable humans to access secrets, but also machines — including cloud providers, applications, and environments. Secrets managers also usually offer an SDK or CLI, making them more flexible for developer needs.
Bitwarden Password Manager
Teams, enterprises, and everyone
Passwords, credit cards, addresses, notes, and other sensitive information
Securely store, manage, and share company passwords and other sensitive information
Bitwarden Secrets Manager
Developers, DevOps, IT, and security teams
Developer secrets including database passwords, SSL/TLS certificates, API keys, and private encryption keys.
Securely store, manage, automate, and share secrets at scale across the development lifecycle
Yes. Because secrets and password management solutions address different security needs, it is recommended for businesses to use both solutions for securing their privileged credentials.
Modern development teams are moving faster than ever before — influenced in part by several recent shifts in the technology industry including SaaS domination, growth of microservices, and popularity of CI/DC pipelines. According to ShiftLeft, a cybersecurity company, “Nearly 70% of software development organizations are releasing multiple times per month or more and 17.7% of organizations daily or faster.” This renewed focus on production, however, is not without downsides. Development teams are more compelled to find shortcuts to meet these ever changing deadlines, which may lead to hard-coding secrets or reusing secrets out of expediency. These shifts in technology enhance the importance of adopting a secrets management solution.
Development teams with secret management solutions benefit from:
Streamline product delivery - empower your team to achieve quicker time to delivery with secure collaboration.
Centralized management of secrets - reduce secrets sprawl across the company environments.
Privileged access management - ensure secrets are only accessible to authorized personnel via granular user permissions and authentication options.
Protect against data breaches - secure your business against malicious actors.
Ready to adopt secrets management for your business? Secure your developer secrets with end-to-end encryption and open source security and sign up for Bitwarden Secrets Manager.
For complete enterprise security across your organization, experience the combined power of Bitwarden Password Manager and Secrets Manager. Sign up for a free business trial to see it in action!