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Configuring OpenID Connect in HashiCorp Vault

Use OpenID Connect within your workflows to authenticate with HashiCorp Vault.

Note: GitHub-hosted runners are not currently supported on GitHub Enterprise Server. You can see more information about planned future support on the GitHub public roadmap.

Overview

OpenID Connect (OIDC) allows your GitHub Actions workflows to authenticate with a HashiCorp Vault to retrieve secrets.

This guide gives an overview of how to configure HashiCorp Vault to trust GitHub's OIDC as a federated identity, and demonstrates how to use this configuration in the hashicorp/vault-action action to retrieve secrets from HashiCorp Vault.

Prerequisites

  • To learn the basic concepts of how GitHub uses OpenID Connect (OIDC), and its architecture and benefits, see "About security hardening with OpenID Connect."

  • Before proceeding, you must plan your security strategy to ensure that access tokens are only allocated in a predictable way. To control how your cloud provider issues access tokens, you must define at least one condition, so that untrusted repositories can’t request access tokens for your cloud resources. For more information, see "Configuring the OIDC trust with the cloud."

Adding the identity provider to HashiCorp Vault

To use OIDC with HashiCorp Vault, you will need to add a trust configuration for the GitHub OIDC provider. For more information, see the HashiCorp Vault documentation.

To configure your Vault server to accept JSON Web Tokens (JWT) for authentication:

  1. Enable the JWT auth method, and use write to apply the configuration to your Vault. For oidc_discovery_url and bound_issuer parameters, use https://HOSTNAME/_services/token. These parameters allow the Vault server to verify the received JSON Web Tokens (JWT) during the authentication process.

    Shell
    vault auth enable jwt
    Shell
    vault write auth/jwt/config \
      bound_issuer="https://HOSTNAME/_services/token" \
      oidc_discovery_url="https://HOSTNAME/_services/token"
  2. Configure a policy that only grants access to the specific paths your workflows will use to retrieve secrets. For more advanced policies, see the HashiCorp Vault Policies documentation.

    Shell
    vault policy write myproject-production - <<EOF
    # Read-only permission on 'secret/data/production/*' path
    
    path "secret/data/production/*" {
      capabilities = [ "read" ]
    }
    EOF
  3. Configure roles to group different policies together. If the authentication is successful, these policies are attached to the resulting Vault access token.

    Shell
    vault write auth/jwt/role/myproject-production -<<EOF
    {
      "role_type": "jwt",
      "user_claim": "actor",
      "bound_claims": {
        "repository": "user-or-org-name/repo-name"
      },
      "policies": ["myproject-production"],
      "ttl": "10m"
    }
    EOF
  • ttl defines the validity of the resulting access token.
  • Ensure that the bound_claims parameter is defined for your security requirements, and has at least one condition. Optionally, you can also set the bound_subject as well as the bound_audiences parameter.
  • To check arbitrary claims in the received JWT payload, the bound_claims parameter contains a set of claims and their required values. In the above example, the role will accept any incoming authentication requests from the repo-name repository owned by the user-or-org-name account.
  • To see all the available claims supported by GitHub's OIDC provider, see "Configuring the OIDC trust with the cloud".

For more information, see the HashiCorp Vault documentation.

Updating your GitHub Actions workflow

To update your workflows for OIDC, you will need to make two changes to your YAML:

  1. Add permissions settings for the token.
  2. Use the hashicorp/vault-action action to exchange the OIDC token (JWT) for a cloud access token.

To add OIDC integration to your workflows that allow them to access secrets in Vault, you will need to add the following code changes:

  • Grant permission to fetch the token from the GitHub OIDC provider:
    • The workflow needs permissions: settings with the id-token value set to write. This lets you fetch the OIDC token from every job in the workflow.
  • Request the JWT from the GitHub OIDC provider, and present it to HashiCorp Vault to receive an access token:

This example demonstrates how to use OIDC with the official action to request a secret from HashiCorp Vault.

Adding permissions settings

The job or workflow run requires a permissions setting with id-token: write. You won't be able to request the OIDC JWT ID token if the permissions setting for id-token is set to read or none.

The id-token: write setting allows the JWT to be requested from GitHub's OIDC provider using one of these approaches:

  • Using environment variables on the runner (ACTIONS_ID_TOKEN_REQUEST_URL and ACTIONS_ID_TOKEN_REQUEST_TOKEN).
  • Using getIDToken() from the Actions toolkit.

If you need to fetch an OIDC token for a workflow, then the permission can be set at the workflow level. For example:

YAML
permissions:
  id-token: write # This is required for requesting the JWT
  contents: read  # This is required for actions/checkout

If you only need to fetch an OIDC token for a single job, then this permission can be set within that job. For example:

YAML
permissions:
  id-token: write # This is required for requesting the JWT

You may need to specify additional permissions here, depending on your workflow's requirements.

Note:

When the permissions key is used, all unspecified permissions are set to no access, with the exception of the metadata scope, which always gets read access. As a result, you may need to add other permissions, such as contents: read. See Automatic token authentication for more information.

Requesting the access token

The hashicorp/vault-action action receives a JWT from the GitHub OIDC provider, and then requests an access token from your HashiCorp Vault instance to retrieve secrets. For more information, see the HashiCorp Vault GitHub Action documentation.

This example demonstrates how to create a job that requests a secret from HashiCorp Vault.

  • <Vault URL>: Replace this with the URL of your HashiCorp Vault.
  • <Vault Namespace>: Replace this with the Namespace you've set in HashiCorp Vault. For example: admin.
  • <Role name>: Replace this with the role you've set in the HashiCorp Vault trust relationship.
  • <Secret-Path>: Replace this with the path to the secret you're retrieving from HashiCorp Vault. For example: secret/data/production/ci npmToken.
YAML
jobs:
  retrieve-secret:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    permissions:
      id-token: write
      contents: read
    steps:
      - name: Retrieve secret from Vault
        uses: hashicorp/vault-action@v2.4.0
          with:
            method: jwt
            url: <Vault URL>
            namespace: <Vault Namespace - HCP Vault and Vault Enterprise only>
            role: <Role name>
            secrets: <Secret-Path>
                
      - name: Use secret from Vault
        run: |
          # This step has access to the secret retrieved above; see hashicorp/vault-action for more details.

Note:

  • If your Vault server is not accessible from the public network, consider using a self-hosted runner with other available Vault auth methods. For more information, see "About self-hosted runners."
  • <Vault Namespace> must be set for a Vault Enterprise (including HCP Vault) deployment. For more information, see Vault namespace.

Revoking the access token

By default, the Vault server will automatically revoke access tokens when their TTL is expired, so you don't have to manually revoke the access tokens. However, if you do want to revoke access tokens immediately after your job has completed or failed, you can manually revoke the issued token using the Vault API.

  1. Set the exportToken option to true (default: false). This exports the issued Vault access token as an environment variable: VAULT_TOKEN.
  2. Add a step to call the Revoke a Token (Self) Vault API to revoke the access token.
YAML
jobs:
  retrieve-secret:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    permissions:
      id-token: write
      contents: read
    steps:
      - name: Retrieve secret from Vault
        uses: hashicorp/vault-action@v2.4.0
          with:
            exportToken: true
            method: jwt
            url: <Vault URL>
            role: <Role name>
            secrets: <Secret-Path>

      - name: Use secret from Vault
        run: |
          # This step has access to the secret retrieved above; see hashicorp/vault-action for more details.

      - name: Revoke token
        # This step always runs at the end regardless of the previous steps result
        if: always()
        run: |
          curl -X POST -sv -H "X-Vault-Token: ${{ env.VAULT_TOKEN }}" \
            <Vault URL>/v1/auth/token/revoke-self