Storing Secrets with Telegraf

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Telegraf is an open source plugin-driven agent for collecting, processing, aggregating, and writing time series data. Telegraf relies on user-provided configuration files to define the various plugins and flow of this data. These configurations may require secrets or other sensitive data.

The new secret store plugin type allows a user to store secrets and reference those secrets in their Telegraf configuration file. These stores alleviate the need to have secrets directly in the Telegraf configuration file.

The following post provides an overview of the Secret Store feature of Telegraf and includes a few real-life examples.

Secret Stores

As of v1.27, Telegraf has a few Secret Store plugins to choose from:

  • Docker

    • When running Docker, this plugin can read Docker provided secrets.

    • These are values stored in /run/secrets on the container.

  • HTTP

    • Query secrets from an HTTP endpoint.

    • The format of the data is expected to be a flat JSON object.

    • Supports a variety of encryption methods and authentication.

  • JOSE

    • Local encrypted files using the JavaScript Object Signing and Encryption algorithm.

    • Users can use the telegraf secrets set to create secrets.

  • OS

    • Interact with OS-specific secret stores.

      • Linux uses kernel keyrings.

      • macOS works with the macOS Keychain.

      • Windows interacts with the Windows Credential Manager control panel.

Plugin support

Telegraf plugins support secret stores only with specific fields. To learn if a plugin supports secret stores, look at the plugin’s README and look for the “Secret-store support” section. This details the plugin’s secret store capabilities and which configuration options it supports.

User access

When setting up secrets, another key item to consider is that the user running Telegraf needs access to the secrets. When creating a secret store and running Telegraf as a service, be sure to give the commonly used telegraf user access to those secrets.

Getting started checklist

Below is a set of steps to migrate an existing Telegraf configuration to one that supports secret stores:

  • Verify plugin support
    • As mentioned above, ensure that the plugin(s) you want to use supports secret stores.
    • Then, ensure that plugin(s) support the configuration options you need.
  • Choose a secret store
    • Decide if you’re going to integrate with the OS secret stores or use an external store.
  • Add secret store to Telegraf config
    • Add the appropriate secret store plugin to the Telegraf config.
    • Each secret store requires a unique id that configurations using the secrets can reference.
    • Set up any configuration options necessary to reference the secrets.
  • Save secrets to that store
    • Telegraf’s secrets subcommand can write secrets for some, but not all the stores.
    • Ensure that the plugin successfully stored your secrets and that the secrets are accessible by the user running Telegraf. Keep in mind that some stores may not persist over reboots.
  • Update config to use secrets
    • Finally, update the Telegraf configuration to switch from hard-coded credentials.
    • Use the @{secretstore_id:secret_key} syntax to reference the secret stores for a configuration value.


Below are a few examples using different secret store plugins:

Linux OS example

The following sets up secrets using a user’s kernel keyring on a Linux machine.

First, update the Telegraf config to include the OS secret store plugin. The following gives the secret store the ID “mystore”, which we will use to reference the secrets later. Because you can have multiple secret stores, the ID is what makes the stores unique for identification purposes. The keyring value is the user’s kernel keyring to use:

   id = "mystore"
   keyring = "telegraf"

To create secrets, use keyctl or the Telegraf binary. The secrets set subcommand takes the keyring name used above and the secret name. Then the user is prompted for the secret information to avoid putting the secret in their shell history:

$ telegraf --config config.toml secrets set mystore influx_token
Enter secret value:

Finally, to update the Telegraf configuration to reference the new secret:

  urls = [""]
  token = "@{mystore:influx_token}"
  organization = "myorg"
  bucket = "mybucket"

Docker example

The following is an example of pulling secrets via Docker secrets. The Docker secret store differs from the other stores in that it only reads secrets provided by Docker itself at runtime. These secrets mount to the /run/secrets directory of a container. A user cannot use Telegraf to set Docker secrets.

Below is an example of a user storing the secrets in a file, which the Docker Compose config then references under secrets. Then update the Telegraf service to use the that secret:

    image: telegraf:latest
      - influx_token
    user: “${USERID}” # Use the value of `id -u` of the user launching the docker-compose

    file: influx_token.txt

The final Telegraf config used to access the Docker secret is similar to the code below:

  id = "docker_store"

  urls = [""]
  token = "@{docker_store:influx_token}"
  organization = "myorg"
  bucket = "mybucket"

HTTP example

The following is an example of pulling secrets via an HTTP endpoint.

The HTTP secret store plugin can call out to an HTTP endpoint with a variety of authentication or encryption options. The plugin expects the secrets to be in a flat key-value JSON file where the key is the secret name and the value is the actual secret. Here is an example of the format:

    “influx_token_dev”: “6702bf65b31941f59dfcf09afd94b1aa”,
    “influx_token_test”: “1af461d979344253824cbbaf88dd2563”,
    “influx_token_prod”: “56372127fe944e68a497bad0a6e33663”

To add this to Telegraf, provide a unique ID for the store and the URL to query for the secrets:

  id = "http_store"
  url = ""

Again, there are many options available for the plugin, including: custom headers, bearer tokens, basic authentication, oauth2, proxy, TLS config, cookie support, and much more. You can send encrypted secrets to Telegraf and, with the appropriate cipher and key, decrypt the secrets themselves.

Finally, add the reference to the secrets to the config:

token = "@{http_store:influx_token_prod}"

JOSE example

The following is an example of pulling secrets via the JavaScript Object Signing and Encryption (JOSE) algorithm. This secret store stores the secrets locally in encrypted files, one for each secret. To decrypt the files, you have to provide the password either in the Telegraf configuration file or when running Telegraf, interactively enter the password. As a result, this secret store option is better thought of as a security through obscurity.

  id = "jose_store"
  path = "/etc/telegraf/secrets"

To create secrets users can use the Telegraf binary:

$ telegraf --config config.toml secrets set jose_store influx_token
Enter secret value:
Enter passphrase to unlock "/etc/telegraf/secrets":
$ ls /etc/telegraf/secrets

Then, like other secret stores, update the Telegraf configuration with the reference to the secret:

token = "@{jose_store:influx_token}"

On start, if the password to the store is not provided in the configuration file, the user is prompted to enter the password:

$ ./telegraf --config config.toml 
Enter passphrase to unlock "/etc/telegraf/secrets":

Get started with Secret Stores and Telegraf

This post laid out a number of ways to use the new secret store functionality in Telegraf. Consider where you might be able to use this functionality in Telegraf and give it a shot today!