"Proteted" data types suitable for hiding secrets in Django config files.

pip install protected==0.0.1



Wouldn't it completely suck to accidentally leak sensitive configuration data like your AWS keys into the wild while running Django in DEBUG mode?

Yes, Django protects your configuration variables from disclosure if your variable name happens to match one of their "magic" pattersn like "API" or "SECRET". But good engineers don't depend on magic and that particular bit of magic does little to protect your secrets once they make it from your configuiration variables into the local varaibles in your code, which Django also happily shares in debug mode.

Well, our new protected module puts an end to that problem.

Getting started

To get started you need to install procted. It's been uploaded to Pypi to installation is a cinch:

easy_install protected

Now lets try it out. Normally when you create a seccret, its easily readable like this:

$ python
Python 2.6.5
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information"
>>> secret = 'secret'
>>> secret

That sort of sucks; ProtectedString tries to remedy this situation by providing an alternative __repr__ method for your secret so it isn't disclosed. Lets try it out

>>> from protected import ProtectedString
>>> secret = ProtectedString("uber secret")
>>> secret
>>> <Protected String #139757326589296 ***********>

Now you can get at the contents of this as a normal string if you really want like this:

>>> str(secret)
uber secret

So, what's happening? A ProtectedString object is simply a superclass of a string with __repr__ overridden to prevent its display. You can still convert it to a normal string to print its value by calling str() on it, which demotes it to a normal string.

But there's a little more happening under the hood than that.

>>> secret + "!"
<Protected String #139757326589392 ***********>
>>> str(secret + "!")
'uber secret!'

ProtectedString can survive basic operations against it. Even this works

>>> very = "Very %s!" % secret
>>> very
<Protected String #139757326548616 ***********>
>>> str(very)
'Very uber secret!'

There are some limits to ProtectedString's ability to obfuscate itself. This operation does not protect the string:

>>> "%s" % (secret,)
uber secret

The difference likes in whom __rmod__ is called against.

"%s" % ProtectedString("secret") calls ProtectedString's __rmod__ method. "%s%" % (ProtectedString("secret"),) doesn't.

While imperfect, if we use this, it may decrease the surface area from which secrets might leak.

Anyhow, I encourage you to play with this, apply it to our config files and try to break it. Please try to break it. I look forward to your feedback - Adam DePrince (@adamdeprince)