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encrypted_attributes (9) Versions 0.3.0

Installs and enables chef-encrypted-attributes gem: Chef plugin to add Node encrypted attributes support using client keys.

cookbook 'encrypted_attributes', '= 0.3.0', :supermarket
cookbook 'encrypted_attributes', '= 0.3.0'
knife supermarket install encrypted_attributes
knife supermarket download encrypted_attributes
Quality 100%


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Installs and enables chef-encrypted-attributes gem: Chef plugin to add Node encrypted attributes support using client keys.


Supported Platforms

This cookbook has been tested on the following platforms:

  • Amazon Linux
  • CentOS
  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • FreeBSD
  • RedHat
  • Ubuntu

Please, let us know if you use it successfully on any other platform.

Required Cookbooks

Required Applications

  • Ruby 1.9.3 or higher.

See also the requirements of the chef-encrypted-attributes gem.


Attribute Default Description
node['encrypted_attributes']['version'] calculated chef-encrypted-attributes gem version to install. The latest stable version is installed by default.
node['encrypted_attributes']['mirror'] nil chef-encrypted-attributes mirror to download the gem from. For cases where you do not want to use RubyGems.
node['encrypted_attributes']['data_bag']['name'] 'global' chef-encrypted-attributes user keys, data bag name.
node['encrypted_attributes']['data_bag']['item'] 'chef_users' chef-encrypted-attributes user keys, data bag item name.
node['dev_mode'] calculated If this is true, the Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers library will work with unencrypted attributes instead of encrypted attributes. For testing purposes.



Installs and loads the chef-encrypted-attributes gem.


Configures chef-encrypted-attributes Chef User keys reading them from a data bag. This is a workaround for the Chef Users Limitation problem.

Helper Libraries


This library adds some helper methods to try to cover the more common use cases.

Automatically includes the required gems (chef-encrypted-attributes), so you do not have to worry about them.

Also tries to simulate encrypted attributes creation (using unencrypted attributes instead) in some testing environments:

  • With Chef Solo.
  • When node['dev_mode'] is set to true.

You must explicitly include the library before using it from recipes or resources:

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'
self.class.send(:include, Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers)

These are the available methods:


Whether encrypted attributes are enabled underneath.


Reads an encrypted attribute.


  • attr_ary: attribute path as array. For example: ['ftp', 'password'].

Returns the attribute value unencrypted.

encrypted_attribute_read_from_node(node, attr_ary)

Reads an encrypted attribute from a remote node.


  • node: Node name.
  • attr_ary: attribute path as array. For example: ['ftp', 'password'].

Returns the attribute value unencrypted.

encrypted_attribute_write(attr_ary) {}

Creates and writes an encrypted attribute.

The attribute will be written only on first run and updated on the next runs. Because of this, the attribute value has to be set as a block, and the block will be run only the first time:

unencrypted_pass = encrypted_attribute_write(['ftp', 'password']) do
  self.class.send(:include, Opscode::OpenSSL::Password)


  • attr_ary: attribute path as array. For example: ['ftp', 'password'].

Returns the attribute value unencrypted, that is, the value returned by the block.

Allows some Chef Clients to read my encrypted attributes.


  • search: Search query for clients that will be allowed to decrypt the attributes. For example 'admin:true'.

Allows some Chef Nodes to read my encrypted attributes.


  • search: Search query for nodes that will be allowed to decrypt the attributes. For example 'role:webapp'.


This class attribute allows you to explicitly enable or disable encrypted attributes. This attribute value is calculated by default.

Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers Example

Here a simple example to save a password encrypted:

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'
self.class.send(:include, Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers)

# Allow all admin clients and webapp nodes to read the attributes encrypted by me

ftp_pass = encrypted_attribute_write(['myapp', 'ftp_password']) do
  self.class.send(:include, Opscode::OpenSSL::Password)

You can then read the attribute as follows:

ftp_pass = encrypted_attribute_read(['myapp', 'ftp_password'])

Or read it from a remote node:

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'
self.class.send(:include, Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers)

ftp_pass = encrypted_attribute_read_from_node('', ['myapp', 'ftp_password'])

Don't forget to include the encrypted_attributes cookbook as a dependency in the metadata.

# metadata.rb

depends 'encrypted_attributes'

Usage Examples

Including in a Cookbook Recipe

You can simply include it in a recipe:

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'

Don't forget to include the encrypted_attributes cookbook as a dependency in the metadata.

# metadata.rb

depends 'encrypted_attributes'

Including in the Run List

Another alternative is to include the default recipe in your Run List:

  "name": "",
  "run_list": [

encrypted_attributes::default Recipe Usage Example

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'

Chef::Recipe.send(:include, Opscode::OpenSSL::Password) # include the #secure_password method

if Chef::EncryptedAttribute.exists?(node['myapp']['ftp_password'])
  # update with the new keys

  # read the password
  ftp_pass = Chef::EncryptedAttribute.load(node['myapp']['ftp_password'])
  # create the password and save it
  ftp_pass = secure_password
  node.set['myapp']['ftp_password'] = Chef::EncryptedAttribute.create(ftp_pass)

# use `ftp_pass` for something here ...

You can also use the Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers helpers to simplify its use:

include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'
self.class.send(:include, Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers)

ftp_pass = encrypted_attribute_write(['myapp', 'ftp_password']) do
  self.class.send(:include, Opscode::OpenSSL::Password)

Note: This example requires the openssl cookbook.

See the chef-encrypted-attributes gem Usage section for more examples.

encrypted_attributes::users_data_bag Recipe Usage Example

This recipe should be called before using the encrypted attributes. It sets the Chef::Config[:encrypted_attributes][:keys] option reading the keys from a data bag.

Before using this recipe, you must create the required data bag:

$ knife data bag create global_data chef_users

You should create a data bag item with the following format:

  "id": "chef_users",
  "bob": "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----\nMIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFA...",
  "alice": "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----\nMIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFA..."

The keys can be set in array of strings format if you prefer:

  "id": "chef_users",
  "bob": [
    "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----",
  "alice": [
    "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----",

You can retrieve user public keys with knife user show USER -a public_key -f json.

Then, you can use this data bag to configure the Chef::Config[:encrypted_attributes][:keys] chef-encrypted-attributes configuration only by calling the recipe:

node.default['encrypted_attributes']['data_bag']['name'] = 'global_data'
include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes::users_data_bag'

# if Chef::EncryptedAttribute.exist?(...)
#   Chef::EncryptedAttribute.update(...)
# else
#   node.set[...][...] = Chef::EncryptedAttribute.create(...)
# ...

Note: This data bag does not need to be encrypted, because it only stores public keys.

Using Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers to Encrypt MySQL Passwords

In the following example we use the official mysql cookbook and its mysql_service resource to save the passwords encrypted in these attributes:

  • node['myapp']['mysql']['server_root_password']
  • node['myapp']['mysql']['server_debian_password']
  • node['myapp']['mysql']['server_repl_password']
# Include the #secure_password method from the openssl cookbook
Chef::Recipe.send(:include, Opscode::OpenSSL::Password)

# Install Encrypted Attributes gem
include_recipe 'encrypted_attributes'

# Include the Encrypted Attributes cookbook helpers
Chef::Recipe.send(:include, Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers)

# We can use an attribute to enable or disable encryption (recommended for tests)
# self.encrypted_attributes_enabled = node['myapp']['encrypt_attributes']

# Encrypted Attributes will be generated randomly and saved in in the
# node['myapp']['mysql'] attribute encrypted.
def generate_mysql_password(user)
  key = "server_#{user}_password"
  encrypted_attribute_write(['myapp', 'mysql', key]) { secure_password }

# Generate the encrypted passwords
mysql_root_password = generate_mysql_password('root')
mysql_debian_password = generate_mysql_password('debian')
mysql_repl_password = generate_mysql_password('repl')

mysql_service node['mysql']['service_name'] do
  version node['mysql']['version']
  port node['mysql']['port']
  data_dir node['mysql']['data_dir']
  server_root_password mysql_root_password
  server_debian_password mysql_debian_password
  server_repl_password mysql_repl_password
  allow_remote_root node['mysql']['allow_remote_root']
  remove_anonymous_users node['mysql']['remove_anonymous_users']
  remove_test_database node['mysql']['remove_test_database']
  root_network_acl node['mysql']['root_network_acl']
  action :create




Please do not hesitate to open an issue with any questions or problems.




License and Author

Author: Xabier de Zuazo (
Copyright: Copyright (c) 2014, Onddo Labs, SL. (
License: Apache License, Version 2.0
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

encrypted_attributes CHANGELOG

This file is used to list changes made in each version of the encrypted_attributes cookbook.

v0.3.0 (2014-10-21)

  • Add FreeBSD support
  • Berksfile, Rakefile and Guarfile, generic templates copied
  • Added rubocop.yml with AllCops:Include
    • Add an example to encrypt MySQL passwords
    • Always include encrypted_attributes recipe to force compile time build-essentials
    • Use single quotes in examples
    • Use markdown for tables
  • Add LICENSE file
  • kitchen.yml: remove empty attributes key
  • License headers homogenized

v0.2.2 (2014-10-02)

  • Added platform support documentation
  • kitchen.yml file updated
  • Rakefile: rubocop enabled
  • Gemfile:
    • Replaced vagrant by vagrant-wrapper
    • Added vagrant-wrapper version with pessimistic operator
    • Berkshelf updated to 3.1
  • Guardfile added
  • TODO: use checkboxes

v0.2.1 (2014-08-28)

  • EncryptedAttributesHelpers bugfix: avoid on chef-solo
  • EncryptedAttributesHelpers: some code duplication removed
  • README: added gemnasium and codeclimate badges

v0.2.0 (2014-08-26)

  • encrypted_attributes_test::default: node#save unless chef-solo
  • Gemfile:
    • RSpec ~> 2.14.0 to avoid uninitialized constant RSpec::Matchers::BuiltIn::RaiseError::MatchAliases error
    • Updates: ChefSpec 4 and foodcritic 4
    • Added chef-encrypted-attributes gem for unit tests
    • Gemfile clean up
    • README file split in multiple files
    • Replace community links by Supermarket links
    • Fixed ::users_data_bag example using #exist? instead of #exists_on_node?
    • Added a link to chef-encrypted-attributes gem requirements
    • Multiple small fixes and improvements
  • ::default: avoid gem install error when no version is specified
  • Install gcc dependency (build-essential cookbook)
  • Added Chef::EncryptedAttributesHelpers helper library
    • Added EncryptedAttributesHelpers unit tests
  • Added RuboCop checking, all offenses fixed
  • TODO: added verify gem task
  • test/kitchen directory removed

v0.1.0 (2014-05-22)

  • Initial release of encrypted_attributes

Foodcritic Metric

0.3.0 passed this metric