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See also: my blog post.

I wish that AWS Lambda functions could be configured to use secrets stored in AWS Parameter Store and AWS Secrets Manager in the same way that AWS ECS task definitions can be. Specifically, I wish I could do this:

  - AWS::LanguageExtensions
  - cloudenv
  - AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31

    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Architectures: [arm64]
      Runtime: python3.9
      Handler: index.handler
          HELLO: WORLD
          MY_SECRET:        !Sub arn:aws:ssm:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:parameter/my/parameter/name
          MY_SECOND_SECRET: !Sub arn:aws:ssm:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:parameter/my/parameter/name
          THIRD_SECRET:     !Sub arn:aws:ssm:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:parameter/my/parameter/third
          REAL_SECRET:      !Sub arn:aws:secretsmanager:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:secret:mysecret-rlBksU
      InlineCode: |
        import os
        def handler(event, context):
          return { 
            'HELLO'           : os.environ['HELLO'],
            'MY_SECRET'       : os.environ['MY_SECRET'],
            'MY_SECOND_SECRET': os.environ['MY_SECOND_SECRET'],
            'THIRD_SECRET'    : os.environ['THIRD_SECRET'],
            'REAL_SECRET'     : os.environ['REAL_SECRET'],

The code in this repo achieves the above. That's all you need to know if you want to use it.


Supported runtimes

  • dotnet6
  • dotnetcore2.1
  • dotnetcore3.1
  • java11
  • java8.al2
  • nodejs10.x
  • nodejs12.x
  • nodejs14.x
  • nodejs16.x
  • python3.8
  • python3.9
  • ruby2.7
  • provided (see below)
  • provided.al2 (see below)

How it's built

If you want to know how it was built, read on. It is made up of three parts:

An executable in cloudenv/cloudenv.go. This application is bundled into a Lambda layer that does the following:

  • Is invoked like so: cloudenv /var/lang/bin/python3.9 /var/runtime/
  • Looks for environment variables that look like either MY_PASSWORD={aws-ssm}arn:aws:ssm:... or OTHER_VAL={aws-sm}arn:aws:secretsmanager:....
  • Fetches the values for those ARNs and substitutes them into the current environment, using ssm:GetParameters and secretsmanager:GetSecretValue.
  • Calls exec() to pass control to /var/lang/bin/python3.9 /var/runtime/
  • The Python code for the user's Lambda function can access the values at os.environ.MY_PASSWORD or os.environ.OTHER_VAL, with no AWS SDKs required.

This means that secrets are fetched during Lambda init time, which is free on most runtimes. It also runs as parallel as possible for best performance.

The second part is a CloudFormation macro, seen on the third line of the example YAML above. When included in a CloudFormation template, the cloudenv macro looks for any AWS::Serverless::Function that has an Environment.Secrets property (like the example function does) and:

  • Moves these to the function's Environment.Variables section with the appropriate {aws-ssm} or {aws-sm} prefix expected by the Lambda layer.
  • Adds the (correct per CPU architecture) Lambda layer to the function's list of Layers.
  • Adds an AWS_LAMBDA_EXEC_WRAPPER environment variable to intercept function cold starts with the executable in the Lambda layer.
  • Adds IAM policies that grant access to the specific values in Parameter Store and Secrets Manager.

The third part is a second two-line Lambda layer. It is an implementation detail required by the fact that provided and provided.al2 Lambda runtimes don't support wrapper scripts. So the function's Handler needs to be a command that executes the actual Lambda function handler in those cases.


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