What is AWS Secrets Manager?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leader in cloud computing, transforming the way organizations manage their digital infrastructure. A critical aspect of this landscape is the management of sensitive data, commonly known as “secrets”. AWS Secrets Manager is a service designed for the secure handling of these secrets, offering tools for storing, accessing, and managing confidential information in the cloud.

What is AWS Secrets Manager?

AWS Secrets Manager is a cloud service for managing, retrieving, and storing sensitive information such as database credentials, API keys, and other secrets. It helps in securing access to applications, services, and IT resources without hard-coding sensitive information in plain text.

Key features

  • Secure and encrypted storage: Secrets in AWS Secrets Manager are encrypted during transit and at rest, ensuring a high level of security.
  • Secrets lifecycle management: AWS Secrets Manager allows you to rotate, manage, and retrieve secrets throughout their lifecycle without disrupting the applications.
  • Fine-grained access control: You can control access to secrets using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies.

Creating AWS Secrets Manager secrets

AWS Secrets Manager secrets can be created via the AWS CLI. Before creating secrets in AWS, you must first make sure you have the AWS CLI installed. Once you have installed the AWS CLI, run the aws configure command to set up your AWS credentials.

$ aws configure

AWS Access Key ID [None]: ********
AWS Secret Access Key [None]:  ********
Default region name [None]:  ********
Default output format [None]:  ********

Create a secret via the CLI

You can create a secret by running the aws secretsmanager create-secret command:

$ aws secretsmanager create-secret --name MySecretName --secret-string "MySecretValue"

    "ARN": "arn:aws:secretsmanager:eu-central-1:111111111111:secret:MySecretName-86zArI",
    "Name": "MySecretName",
    "VersionId": "41c3c47e-4542-438c-929f-92f02d3261e4"

Verify the secret was created with the aws secretsmanager list-secrets command.

$ aws secretsmanager list-secrets
    "SecretList": [
            "ARN": "arn:aws:secretsmanager:eu-central-1:111111111111:secret:MySecretName-86zArI",
            "Name": "MySecretName",
            "LastChangedDate": "2023-11-28T17:16:05.840000+00:00",
            "SecretVersionsToStages": {
                "41c3c47e-4542-438c-929f-92f02d3261e4": [
            "CreatedDate": "2023-11-28T17:16:05.791000+00:00"
Many infrastructure as code platforms, including Pulumi, have support for creating secrets. You can learn more about how to create and manage secrets in Pulumi by taking a look at Pulumi Secrets documentation.

Accessing Secrets Manager secrets

Now that you have created a Secrets Manager secret, you can access the value via the AWS CLI using the aws secretsmanager get-secret-value command.

$ aws secretsmanager get-secret-value --secret-id MySecretName
    "ARN": "arn:aws:secretsmanager:eu-central-1:111111111111:secret:MySecretName-86zArI",
    "Name": "MySecretName",
    "VersionId": "41c3c47e-4542-438c-929f-92f02d3261e4",
    "SecretString": "MySecretValue",
    "VersionStages": [
    "CreatedDate": "2023-11-28T17:16:05.836000+00:00"

Best practices

  • Rotate secrets regularly: Implement a routine for regularly rotating secrets to enhance security.
  • Provide least-privilege access: Employ IAM policies for granular access control to secrets.
  • Audit and monitor secret access: Use AWS CloudTrail and other monitoring tools to track access and modifications to your secrets.

Challenges and considerations

AWS Secrets Manager is a powerful tool for managing secrets and cryptographic keys, but it does come with its own set of challenges, considerations, and limitations. Some of the key aspects to be aware of include:

  • Compatibility and integration: AWS Secrets Manager primarily integrates with AWS services and applications. Integrating it with on-premises applications might require additional configurations.
  • Cost management: While AWS Secrets Manager offers robust features, it is important to manage costs associated with the number of API calls and secret versions.
  • API request quotas and throttling: AWS Secrets Manager has quotas on the rate of API requests. For example, the combined rate of certain API requests like DescribeSecret and GetSecretValue is limited to 10,000 transactions per second per region. Exceeding these limits can result in throttling, where valid requests are rejected and a throttling error is returned.

Understanding the limitations of AWS Secrets Manager and effectively planning its usage are crucial for seamless integration into your AWS infrastructure. Properly addressing these challenges and considerations is key to leveraging the full benefits of the service.


AWS Secrets Manager is an essential tool for secure secret management in cloud environments, particularly for applications running on AWS. Properly utilizing AWS Secrets Manager can significantly strengthen the security and management of sensitive data in cloud applications. Consider exploring more AWS services and tools to enhance your cloud infrastructure’s security and management efficiency.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of AWS Secrets Manager, take your cloud infrastructure management to the next level with Pulumi. Explore these key resources to deepen your understanding and enhance your implementation strategies:

  • Streamlined infrastructure management with IaC: Learn about deploying and managing AWS Secrets Manager secrets as well as other AWS resources using Pulumi’s Infrastructure as Code capabilities. Pulumi enables you to define and provision your cloud infrastructure using familiar programming languages, integrating the management of secrets directly into your IaC workflows. Discover how to integrate AWS Secrets Manager into your broader cloud infrastructure with Pulumi by exploring Pulumi’s AWS Provider documentation. Below are some examples of how to create an AWS Secrets Manager secret in a number of supported programming languages:
// Copyright 2016-2019, Pulumi Corporation.  All rights reserved.
// View the full example code here: https://github.com/pulumi/examples/tree/master/aws-ts-secrets-manager

import * as aws from "@pulumi/aws";

// Create a secret
const secret = new aws.secretsmanager.Secret("secret");

// Store a new secret version
const secretVersion = new aws.secretsmanager.SecretVersion("secretVersion", {
    secretId: secret.id,
    secretString: "mysecret",

// Export secret ID (in this case the ARN)
export const secretId = secret.id;
# Copyright 2016-2020, Pulumi Corporation.
# View the full example code here: https://github.com/pulumi/examples/tree/master/aws-py-secrets-manager

import pulumi
from pulumi_aws import secretsmanager

# Create secret
secret = secretsmanager.Secret("secret")

# Create secret version
secret_version = secretsmanager.SecretVersion("secret_version",

# Export secret ID (in this case the ARN)
pulumi.export("secret_id", secret.id)
// Copyright 2016-2021, Pulumi Corporation.
// View the full example code here: https://github.com/pulumi/examples/tree/master/aws-go-secrets-manager

package main

import (

func main() {
	pulumi.Run(func(ctx *pulumi.Context) error {
		secret, err := secretsmanager.NewSecret(ctx, "secretcontainer", nil)
		if err != nil {
			return err

		_, err = secretsmanager.NewSecretVersion(ctx, "secret", &secretsmanager.SecretVersionArgs{
			SecretId:     secret.ID(),
			SecretString: pulumi.String("mysecret"),
		if err != nil {
			return err

		// Export the ID (in this case the ARN) of the secret
		ctx.Export("secretContainer", secret.ID())
		return nil
// Copyright 2016-2021, Pulumi Corporation.
// View the full example code here: https://github.com/pulumi/examples/tree/master/aws-cs-secrets-manager

using Pulumi;
using Pulumi.Aws.SecretsManager;

class MyStack : Stack
    public MyStack()
        // Create secret
        var secret = new Secret("secret");

        // Create secret version
        var secretVersion = new SecretVersion("secretVersion", new SecretVersionArgs
            SecretId = secret.Id,
            SecretString = "mysecret"

        this.SecretId = secret.Id;

    public Output<string> SecretId { get; set; }
  • Advanced secrets management: For organizations that use more than one secrets manager and/or store configuration data in multiple locations, Pulumi ESC (Environments, Secrets, and Configurations) offers a centralized solution for managing secrets and configurations across multiple environments. Moreover, Pulumi ESC integrates with OIDC to allow the dynamic generation of credentials, elevating its utility in scenarios where secrets need to be frequently rotated or updated. Dive deeper into how Pulumi ESC can streamline your secrets management workflows by visiting the Pulumi ESC documentation for the Pulumi ESC documentation for the AWS Secrets provider.

Our community on Slack is always open for discussions, questions, and sharing experiences. Join us there and become part of our growing community of cloud professionals!

Get started today

Pulumi is open source and free to get started. Deploy your first stack today.