Manage Secrets in Confluent Platform

You can use Confluent Platform secrets to store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords and API tokens. Compliance requirements often dictate that services should not store sensitive data as clear text in files. This sensitive data can include passwords, such as the values for configuration parameters ssl.key.password, ssl.keystore.password, ssl.truststore.password, or any other sensitive data in configuration files or log files. Secrets are administered with the confluent secret commands.

When you run confluent secret, the configuration file is modified to include code that directs the configuration resolution system to pull the configuration from a secret provider. A second file (the secrets file) that contains the encrypted secrets is also created.

Secrets use “envelope encryption”, which is a standard way to protect sensitive data with a highly secure method. The AES/GCM/NoPadding algorithm is used to encrypt your configurations and the master encryption key. A user specifies a master passphrase, which is used along with a cryptographic salt value to derive a master encryption key. The master encryption key is used to generate a separate data encryption key.

The master encryption and data encryption keys are used to encrypt the sensitive data in the configuration files. The service can later decrypt the keys. If an unauthorized user gains access to a configuration file, they cannot see the encrypted values and they have no way to decrypt them without knowing the master encryption key.

See also

For a tutorial on how to use secrets, see Tutorial: Secret Protection in Confluent Platform.

How secrets extend existing Apache Kafka® security

Secrets extend the protection provided by Apache Kafka® in KIP-226 for brokers, KIP-297 for Connect, and KIP-421 for the automatic resolution of variables specified in external component configurations.

Secrets for dynamic broker configurations

You can use secrets protection for Apache Kafka® dynamic broker configurations (KIP-226) as follows:

  • If you want to store all of your keystore configurations encrypted in a file, you can do so. The Kafka broker can use this keystore configuration instead of the dynamic broker configuration for password encryption only. As is the case for other components, this approach does not enable dynamic updates. ZooKeeper is not used in this approach.
  • If you want to encrypt passwords just for the broker and support dynamic updates (for example, for TLS/SSL keystores), then you can use dynamic broker configurations without new secret protection. When using this approach, encrypted passwords are stored in ZooKeeper.
  • If you want to use a common file for encrypted passwords of all components and the broker, then you should use dynamic updates for the broker. In such cases, you can use secret protection in conjunction with KIP-226, where a combination of the secret file and ZooKeeper are used.

Secrets and configuration variables

Secrets extends protection for variables in configuration files (KIP-421), including Connect (KIP-297) as follows:

  • Running the confluent secret command encrypts secrets stored within configuration files by replacing the secret with a variable (a tuple ${providerName:[path:]key}, where providerName is the name of a ConfigProvider, path is an optional string, and key is a required string). Running confluent secret adds all the information Kafka components will require to fetch the actual, decrypted value. Secrets are stored in an encrypted format in an external file.
  • With help of the Configuration Provider (as described in KIP-421), upon startup all components (such as broker, connect, producer, consumer, admin client, etc.) can automatically fetch the decrypted secret from the external file.
  • When using secrets to encrypt Kafka Dynamic Configurations, you must reload the configuration using the AdminClient and script as described by KIP-226.


Confluent Secrets cannot be used to encrypt the following:

  • A JAAS file, nor can you encrypt files referenced by a JAAS configuration. However, you can encrypt a JAAS configuration parameter that is declared in a properties file. For more information, see the example in Encrypt JAAS configuration parameters.

  • The file (referenced by the Jetty PropertyFileLoginModule, which authenticates users by checking for their credentials in a password file)

  • The file

  • Any librdkafka-based clients. To encrypt librdkafka-based clients, you must use a solution from within your own source libraries.

  • Passwords in systemd override.conf files

  • If you use the Confluent CLI for secrets protection, and you include a backslash character without escaping it in a property value that you’re encrypting, the following error occurs: Error: properties: Line xxx: invalid unicode literal, where xxx is the line with the backslash.

    You must escape the backslash character when entering a value in a Confluent Platform configuration file or when using Confluent CLI. For example, if a password property value is 1\o/-r@c6pD, which includes a valid backslash character, then you must enter it as 1\\o/-r@c6pD in the file.

Quick start

  1. Create a directory for storing the file. For example:

    mkdir /usr/secrets/
  2. Generate the master encryption key based on a passphrase.

    Typically, a passphrase is much longer than a password and is easily remembered as a string of words (for example,``Data in motion``). You can specify the passphrase either in clear text on the command line, or store it in a file. A best practice is to enter this passphrase into a file and then pass it to the CLI (specified as --passphrase @<passphrase.txt>). By using a file, you can avoid the logging history, which shows the passphrase in plain text.

    Choose a location for the secrets file on your local host (not a location where Confluent Platform services run). The secrets file contains encrypted secrets for the master encryption key, data encryption key, and configuration parameters, along with metadata, such as which cipher was used for encryption.

    confluent secret master-key generate \
    --local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/  \
    --passphrase @<passphrase.txt>

    Your output should resemble:

    Save the master key. It cannot be retrieved later.
    | Master Key | abC12DE+3fG45Hi67J8KlmnOpQr9s0Tuv+w1x2y3zab= |
  3. Save the master key because it cannot be retrieved later.

  4. Export the master key in the environment variable, or add the master key to a bash script.


    The subsequent confluent secret commands will fail if the environment variable is not set.

    export CONFLUENT_SECURITY_MASTER_KEY=abC12DE+3fG45Hi67J8KlmnOpQr9s0Tuv+w1x2y3zab=
  5. Encrypt the specified configuration parameters.

    This step encrypts the properties specified by --config in the configuration file specified by --config-file. The property values are read from the configuration file, encrypted, and written to the local secrets file specified by --local-secrets-file. In place of the property values, instructions that are written into the configuration file allow the configuration resolution system to retrieve the secret values at runtime.

    The file path you specify in --remote-secrets-file is written into the configuration instructions and identifies where the resolution system can locate the secrets file at runtime. If you are running the secrets command centrally and distributing the secrets file to each node, then specify the eventual path of the secrets file in --remote-secrets-file. If you plan to run the secrets command on each node, then the remote-secrets-file should match the location specified by --local-secrets-file.


    Updates specified with --local-secrets-file flag modify the file. For every broker where you specify --local-secrets-file, you can store the file in a different location, which you specify using the --remote-secrets-file.

    For example, when encrypting a broker:

    • In --local-secrets-file, specify the file where the Confluent CLI will add and/or modify encrypted parameters. This modifies the file.
    • In --remote-secrets-file, specify the location of file that the broker will reference.

    If the --config flag is not specified, any property that contains the string password is encrypted in the configuration key. When running encrypt use a comma to specify multiple keys, for example: --config ",". This option is not available when using the add or update commands.

    Use the following example command to encrypt the and parameters:

    confluent secret file encrypt --config-file /etc/kafka/ \
    --local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
    --remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
    --config ","

    You should see a similar entry in your file. This example shows the encrypted parameter. = ${securepass:/usr/secrets/}
  6. Decrypt the encrypted configuration parameter.

    confluent secret file decrypt \
    --local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
    --config-file /etc/kafka/ \
    --output-file decrypt.txt

    You should see the decrypted parameter. This example shows the decrypted parameter.


For more information about the file, see the properties file reference.


To operationalize this workflow, you can augment your orchestration tooling to distribute this to the destination hosts. These hosts may include Kafka brokers, Connect workers, Schema Registry instances, ksqlDB servers, Control Center, or any service using password encryption. The confluent secret commands are flexible to accommodate whatever secret distribution model you prefer. You can either do the secret generation and configuration modification on each destination host directly, or do it all on a single host and then distribute the secret data to the destination hosts. Here are the tasks to distribute the secret data:

  • Export the master encryption key into the environment on every host that will have a configuration file with password protection.
  • Distribute the secrets file: copy the secrets file /path/to/ from the local host on which you have been working to /path/to/ on the destination hosts.
  • Propagate the necessary configuration file changes: update the configuration file on all hosts so that the configuration parameter now has the tuple for secrets.

Usage examples

Here are some usage examples for the confluent secret commands.


The Confluent CLI must be installed.

Add remote encrypted configs from file

This command adds new encrypted configuration parameters (--config) to the specified file (--config-file). The encrypted secrets are stored in the local secrets file (--local-secrets-file).


You can specify multiple key-value pairs by separating each configuration parameter with a newline character, for example: --config "ssl.keystore.password = sslPassword \n ssl.truststore.password = password". If you include config but do not include a key/value pair, or submit an empty list, you will receive an output error.

confluent secret file add --config-file /etc/kafka/ \
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \

After running this command your properties file should resemble: = ${securepass:/usr/secrets/}

Using prefixes in secrets configurations

Secrets config.providers do not propagate to prefixes such as client.*. Thus, when using prefixes with secrets you must specify config.providers and config.providers.securepass.class:


Control Center

Each component that communicates with a secured Control Center instance requires a specific configuration to be set by its prefix. When configuring config.providers and config.providers.securepass.class for Confluent Control Center secrets configurations, specify:


When Confluent Control Center is communicating with multiple Kafka clusters:


Encrypt JAAS configuration parameters

All Confluent Platform components support an embedded JAAS configuration, which provides a secure way to specify your JAAS configuration. Secrets also support using an embedded JAAS configuration. This configuration method allows for a more granular level of security for your secrets JAAS configuration. For example, rather than encrypting your entire secrets JAAS configuration, as you would using a properties file, when using an embedded JAAS configuration, you can encrypt the password only. In this way, your secrets configuration details will be available in logs, but not your password.

Secrets does not support using a static JAAS configuration file that is passed at runtime, as is done with brokers.


  • The ZooKeeper Client JAAS configuration is not supported by secrets protection.
  • You cannot encrypt multiple passwords in the same JAAS configuration using the Confluent CLI secrets encryption command for encrypting the JAAS.

Before performing any operation on the JAAS configuration, you must first provide the configuration key in the predefined path: <entry name>/<LoginModule>/<key>.

Following is an example JAAS configuration in a property file (kafka/ required /
useKeyTab=false /
adminpassword=tempPass /
useTicketCache=true /


You can specify the path to adminpassword as: sasl.jaas.config/

The standard CLI syntax for encrypting, adding, or updating a secrets JAAS configuration is:

confluent secret file encrypt --config-file

Of course, you must replace encrypt with add or update, depending on the configuration task you are performing.

This example shows the command and options for encrypting the password in a secrets JAAS configuration:

confluent secret file encrypt --config-file /etc/kafka/
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config sasl.jaas.config/

This example shows the command and options for adding a new secrets JAAS configuration in which the password is encrypted:

confluent secret file add --config-file /etc/kafka/
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config sasl.jaas.config/

This example shows the command and options for updating the encrypted password in the secrets JAAS configuration:

confluent secret file update --config-file /etc/kafka/
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config sasl.jaas.config/

The encrypted data that you see after executing any of the preceding commands should look similar to the following:

_metadata.master_key.0.salt = 3B++ViaAMaSwOOnxYI2bbeCtvZXRV5mxEOfb2FO3DnU=
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.created_at = 2020-03-06 14:07:34.248521 -0700 MST m=+0.011810143
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.envvar = CONFLUENT_SECURITY_MASTER_KEY
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.length = 32
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.iterations = 1000
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.salt = 4aqTrl8kdnQdVbGwkbeQHUiLA235/RKGC8zOXTHwQaI=
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.enc = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:bP93/lcsQVY5tzh4NWvD9tWO/yyTGwdAEgYHwpUokjiomma7QoH8X/jhlB7zibGd,iv:A7zk7hBwuataNy+ToT346w==,type:str] = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:KdjkpudhWKoVe+6G35OYDw==,iv:5MgMsMT1o8d1JlXE0966Bg==,type:str]

Encrypt JSON configuration parameters

Secrets supports the encryption of JSON configuration parameters.

Before performing any operation on the JSON configuration parameters, you must first provide the configuration key in the path format:

    "name": "security configuration",
    "credentials": {
        "password": "password",
        "ssl.keystore.location": "/usr/ssl"

You can specify the path to ssl.keystore.password as:

<entry-name>.<key> :

The standard CLI syntax for encrypting, adding, updating, or decrypting a secrets JSON configuration is:

confluent secret file encrypt --config-file

Of course, you must replace encrypt with add, update, or decrypt, depending on the configuration task you are performing.

This example shows the command and options for encrypting the password in the secrets JSON configuration:

./confluent secret file encrypt
--config-file /etc/kafka/sample.json
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config credentials.password


The --config key for JSON configurations must be separated by . in the path syntax.

This example shows the command and options for adding a new secrets JSON configuration in which the password is encrypted:

./confluent secret file add
--config-file /etc/kafka/sample.json
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config credentials.password

This example shows the command and options for updating the encrypted password in a secrets JSON configuration:

./confluent secret file update
--config-file /etc/kafka/sample.json
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config credentials.password

The encrypted data that you see after executing the preceding commands should look similar to the following:

_metadata.master_key.0.salt = 3B++ViaAMaSwOOnxYI2bbeCtvZXRV5mxEOfb2FO3DnU=
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.created_at = 2020-03-06 14:07:34.248521 -0700 MST m=+0.011810143
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.envvar = CONFLUENT_SECURITY_MASTER_KEY
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.length = 32
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.iterations = 1000
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.salt = 4aqTrl8kdnQdVbGwkbeQHUiLA235/RKGC8zOXTHwQaI=
_metadata.symmetric_key.0.enc = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:bP93/lcsQVY5tzh4NWvD9tWO/yyTGwdAEgYHwpUokjiomma7QoH8X/jhlB7zibGd,iv:A7zk7hBwuataNy+ToT346w==,type:str] = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:KdjkpudhWKoVe+6G35OYDw==,iv:5MgMsMT1o8d1JlXE0966Bg==,type:str]
sample.json/credentials.password = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:4cCPvtf9Sgpf6amU358NDw==,iv:Aq/OmYfGIdbyw78LRe5gHQ==,type:str]

This example shows the command and options for decrypting the password in a secrets JSON configuration:

./confluent secret file decrypt
--config-file /etc/kafka/sample.json
--local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--remote-secrets-file /usr/secrets/
--config credentials.password

Rotate keys

It is recommended that you rotate keys using a single properties file.

This command rotates the master key or data key.

  • Rotate master key (--master-key): Generates a new master key and re-encrypts the data with the new master key. The new master key is stored in an environment variable.

    confluent secret file rotate --master-key \
    --local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
    --passphrase @/User/bob/
    --passphrase-new @/User/bob/
  • Rotate data key (--data-key): Generates a new data key and re-encrypts the file with the new data key.

    confluent secret file rotate --data-key \
    --local-secrets-file /usr/secrets/ \
    --passphrase @/User/bob/

Docker configuration

When you enable security for the Confluent Platform, you must pass secrets (for example, credentials, certificates, keytabs, Kerberos config) to the container. The images handle this by using the credentials available in the secrets directory. The containers specify a Docker volume for secrets, which the admin must map to a directory on the host that contains the required secrets. For example, if the file is located on the host at /scripts/security, and you want it mounted at /secrets in the Docker container, then you would specify:

   - ./scripts/security:/secrets

To configure secrets protection in Docker images, you must manually add the following configuration to the docker-compose.yml file:


<COMPONENT> can be any of the following:

  • KSQL

For details about Docker configuration options, refer to Docker Image Configuration Reference for Confluent Platform.

For a Kafka broker, your configuration should look like the following:



For each secret you want to use, you must specify where to find it. For example, if you want to use a secure secret in the sasl.jaas.config file, and the secrets file is volume-mounted in your Docker container at the path /secrets/, and you want to use the key in that file, you would use the following configuration. Note that in the docker-compose.yml file you must escape the $ character by using $$ as shown here:

KAFKA_SASL_JAAS_CONFIG: $${securepass:/secrets/}

Script commands

You can script the commands by using stdin or from a file:

  • To pipe from stdin use dash (-), for example --passphrase -.
  • To read from a file use @<path-to-file>, for example --passphrase @/User/bob/
confluent secret master-key generate \
--local-secrets-file /usr/demo/ \
--passphrase @/Users/
echo -e "demoMasterKey" | confluent secret master-key generate --local-secrets-file
/usr/demo/ --passphrase -

Fix corrupt master key

If your master key becomes corrupt or is lost, you must create new passwords in the properties file (e.g. ssl.keystore.password) and generate a new master key for the encrypted configuration parameters. The following example updates the ssl.keystore.password in the /etc/kafka/ file.

  1. Create a new password in your properties file.

  2. Generate a new master key.

    confluent secret master-key generate \
    --local-secrets-file <path-to-file>/  \
    --passphrase @/User/bob/
  3. Encrypt the configs with new master key.

    confluent secret file encrypt --config-file /etc/kafka/  \
    --local-secrets-file <path-to-file>/ \
    --remote-secrets-file <path-to-file> \
    --config ssl.keystore.password

Properties file reference

The looks like this:

1_metadata.master_key.0.salt = HfCqzb0CSXSo/mEx2Oc0lUqY5hP3vGa/SayR5wxQogI=
2_metadata.symmetric_key.0.created_at = 2019-07-16 16:36:05.480926 -0700 PDT m=+0.006733395
3_metadata.symmetric_key.0.envvar = CONFLUENT_SECURITY_MASTER_KEY
4_metadata.symmetric_key.0.length = 32
5_metadata.symmetric_key.0.iterations = 1000
6_metadata.symmetric_key.0.salt = hCC00OJG2VzhHhLMB6hZSuE9KBKutMK8BxFhq8OUirg=
7_metadata.symmetric_key.0.enc = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:TDSUb8f6IzUtgAffkQ8jZ55QU1sn+OTbvr2+FzX1bkjnrV4d6uwqtsTxzltiG8nO,iv:1ieTVqWxOC06rDcO9XQuOQ==,type:str] = ENC[AES/GCM/NoPadding,data:jOGowFcgq4q1MqcJEGWCsg==,iv:3iqk+FJAbnW7MOYEiPkyFA==,type:str]
  • Line 1: _metadata.master_key.0.salt is the salt used for generating the master key.
  • Line 2: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.created_at is the timestamp when data key is created.
  • Line 3: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.envvar is the master key environment variable.
  • Line 4: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.length is the length of data key in bytes.
  • Line 5: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.iterations is the number of iterations used for encryption.
  • Line 6: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.salt is the salt used for generating the data key.
  • Line 7: _metadata.symmetric_key.0.enc is the data key wrapped using master key in the following key:value format, where: ENC[<algorithm>,data:<data>:,iv:<initialization-vector>,type:<type>]. The algorithm format used is:
    • Symmetric encryption algorithm: Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
    • Encryption mode: Galois/Counter Mode (GCM)
    • Padding scheme: NoPadding