Skip to content


"Sealed Secrets" for Kubernetes

Build Status Download Status Go Report Card Downloads

Problem: "I can manage all my K8s config in git, except Secrets."

Solution: Encrypt your Secret into a SealedSecret, which is safe to store - even inside a public repository. The SealedSecret can be decrypted only by the controller running in the target cluster and nobody else (not even the original author) is able to obtain the original Secret from the SealedSecret.


Sealed Secrets is composed of two parts:

  • A cluster-side controller / operator
  • A client-side utility: kubeseal

The kubeseal utility uses asymmetric crypto to encrypt secrets that only the controller can decrypt.

These encrypted secrets are encoded in a SealedSecret resource, which you can see as a recipe for creating a secret. Here is how it looks:

kind: SealedSecret
  name: mysecret
  namespace: mynamespace
    foo: AgBy3i4OJSWK+PiTySYZZA9rO43cGDEq.....

Once unsealed this will produce a secret equivalent to this:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: mysecret
  namespace: mynamespace
  foo: YmFy  # <- base64 encoded "bar"

This normal kubernetes secret will appear in the cluster after a few seconds you can use it as you would use any secret that you would have created directly (e.g. reference it from a Pod).

Jump to the Installation section to get up and running.

The Usage section explores in more detail how you craft SealedSecret resources.

SealedSecrets as templates for secrets

The previous example only focused on the encrypted secret items themselves, but the relationship between a SealedSecret custom resource and the Secret it unseals into is similar in many ways (but not in all of them) to the familiar Deployment vs Pod.

In particular, the annotations and labels of a SealedSecret resource are not the same as the annotations of the Secret that gets generated out of it.

To capture this distinction, the SealedSecret object has a template section which encodes all the fields you want the controller to put in the unsealed Secret.

The Sprig function library is available in addition to the default Go Text Template functions.

The metadata block is copied as is (the ownerReference field will be updated unless disabled).

Other secret fields are handled individually. The type and immutable fields are copied, and the data field can be used to template complex values on the Secret. All other fields are currently ignored.

kind: SealedSecret
  name: mysecret
  namespace: mynamespace
    "": ....
    .dockerconfigjson: AgBy3i4OJSWK+PiTySYZZA9rO43cGDEq.....
    immutable: true
    # this is an example of labels and annotations that will be added to the output secret
        "": usernamePassword
        "": credentials from Kubernetes

The controller would unseal that into something like:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: mysecret
  namespace: mynamespace
    "": usernamePassword
    "": credentials from Kubernetes
  - apiVersion:
    controller: true
    kind: SealedSecret
    name: mysecret
    uid: 5caff6a0-c9ac-11e9-881e-42010aac003e
immutable: true
  .dockerconfigjson: ewogICJjcmVk...

As you can see, the generated Secret resource is a "dependent object" of the SealedSecret and as such it will be updated and deleted whenever the SealedSecret object gets updated or deleted.

Public key / Certificate

The key certificate (public key portion) is used for sealing secrets, and needs to be available wherever kubeseal is going to be used. The certificate is not secret information, although you need to ensure you are using the correct one.

kubeseal will fetch the certificate from the controller at runtime (requires secure access to the Kubernetes API server), which is convenient for interactive use, but it's known to be brittle when users have clusters with special configurations such as private GKE clusters that have firewalls between control plane and nodes.

An alternative workflow is to store the certificate somewhere (e.g. local disk) with kubeseal --fetch-cert >mycert.pem, and use it offline with kubeseal --cert mycert.pem. The certificate is also printed to the controller log on startup.

Since v0.9.x certificates get automatically renewed every 30 days. It's good practice that you and your team update your offline certificate periodically. To help you with that, since v0.9.2 kubeseal accepts URLs too. You can set up your internal automation to publish certificates somewhere you trust.

kubeseal --cert

It also recognizes the SEALED_SECRETS_CERT env var. (pro-tip: see also direnv).

NOTE: we are working on providing key management mechanisms that offload the encryption to HSM based modules or managed cloud crypto solutions such as KMS.


SealedSecrets are from the POV of an end user a "write only" device.

The idea is that the SealedSecret can be decrypted only by the controller running in the target cluster and nobody else (not even the original author) is able to obtain the original Secret from the SealedSecret.

The user may or may not have direct access to the target cluster. More specifically, the user might or might not have access to the Secret unsealed by the controller.

There are many ways to configure RBAC on k8s, but it's quite common to forbid low-privilege users from reading Secrets. It's also common to give users one or more namespaces where they have higher privileges, which would allow them to create and read secrets (and/or create deployments that can reference those secrets).

Encrypted SealedSecret resources are designed to be safe to be looked at without gaining any knowledge about the secrets it conceals. This implies that we cannot allow users to read a SealedSecret meant for a namespace they wouldn't have access to and just push a copy of it in a namespace where they can read secrets from.

Sealed-secrets thus behaves as if each namespace had its own independent encryption key and thus once you seal a secret for a namespace, it cannot be moved in another namespace and decrypted there.

We don't technically use an independent private key for each namespace, but instead we include the namespace name during the encryption process, effectively achieving the same result.

Furthermore, namespaces are not the only level at which RBAC configurations can decide who can see which secret. In fact, it's possible that users can access a secret called foo in a given namespace but not any other secret in the same namespace. We cannot thus by default let users freely rename SealedSecret resources otherwise a malicious user would be able to decrypt any SealedSecret for that namespace by just renaming it to overwrite the one secret user does have access to. We use the same mechanism used to include the namespace in the encryption key to also include the secret name.

That said, there are many scenarios where you might not care about this level of protection. For example, the only people who have access to your clusters are either admins or they cannot read any Secret resource at all. You might have a use case for moving a sealed secret to other namespaces (e.g. you might not know the namespace name upfront), or you might not know the name of the secret (e.g. it could contain a unique suffix based on the hash of the contents etc).

These are the possible scopes:

  • strict (default): the secret must be sealed with exactly the same name and namespace. These attributes become part of the encrypted data and thus changing name and/or namespace would lead to "decryption error".
  • namespace-wide: you can freely rename the sealed secret within a given namespace.
  • cluster-wide: the secret can be unsealed in any namespace and can be given any name.

In contrast to the restrictions of name and namespace, secret items (i.e. JSON object keys like can be renamed at will without losing the ability to decrypt the sealed secret.

The scope is selected with the --scope flag:

kubeseal --scope cluster-wide <secret.yaml >sealed-secret.json

It's also possible to request a scope via annotations in the input secret you pass to kubeseal:

  • "true" -> for namespace-wide
  • "true" -> for cluster-wide

The lack of any of such annotations means strict mode. If both are set, cluster-wide takes precedence.

NOTE: Next release will consolidate this into a single annotation.


See for the latest release and detailed installation instructions.

Cloud platform specific notes and instructions:


Once you deploy the manifest it will create the SealedSecret resource and install the controller into kube-system namespace, create a service account and necessary RBAC roles.

After a few moments, the controller will start, generate a key pair, and be ready for operation. If it does not, check the controller logs.


The official controller manifest installation mechanism is just a YAML file.

In some cases you might need to apply your own customizations, like set a custom namespace or set some env variables.

kubectl has native support for that, see kustomize.

Helm Chart

The Sealed Secrets helm chart is now officially supported and hosted in this GitHub repo.

helm repo add sealed-secrets

NOTE: The versioning scheme of the helm chart differs from the versioning scheme of the sealed secrets project itself.

Originally the helm chart was maintained by the community and the first version adopted a major version of 1 while the sealed secrets project itself is still at major 0. This is ok because the version of the helm chart itself is not meant to be necessarily the version of the app itself. However this is confusing, so our current versioning rule is:

  1. The SealedSecret controller version scheme: 0.X.Y
  2. The helm chart version scheme: 1.X.Y-rZ

There can be thus multiple revisions of the helm chart, with fixes that apply only to the helm chart without affecting the static YAML manifests or the controller image itself.

NOTE: The helm chart readme still contains a deprecation notice, but it no longer reflects reality and will be removed upon the next release.

NOTE: The helm chart by default installs the controller with the name sealed-secrets, while the kubeseal command line interface (CLI) tries to access the controller with the name sealed-secrets-controller. You can explicitly pass --controller-name to the CLI:

kubeseal --controller-name sealed-secrets <args>

Alternatively, you can set fullnameOverride when installing the chart to override the name. Note also that kubeseal assumes that the controller is installed within the kube-system namespace by default. So if you want to use the kubeseal CLI without having to pass the expected controller name and namespace you should install the Helm Chart like this:

helm install sealed-secrets -n kube-system --set-string fullnameOverride=sealed-secrets-controller sealed-secrets/sealed-secrets
Helm Chart on a restricted environment

In some companies you might be given access only to a single namespace, not a full cluster.

One of the most restrictive environments you can encounter is:

  • A namespace was allocated to you with some service account.
  • You do not have access to the rest of the cluster, not even cluster CRDs.
  • You may not even be able to create further service accounts or roles in your namespace.
  • You are required to include resource limits in all your deployments.

Even with these restrictions you can still install the sealed secrets Helm Chart, there is only one pre-requisite:

  • The cluster must already have the sealed secrets CRDs installed.

Once your admins installed the CRDs, if they were not there already, you can install the chart by preparing a YAML config file such as this:

  create: false
  name: {allocated-service-account}
  create: false
  clusterRole: false
    cpu: 150m
    memory: 256Mi

Note that:

  • No service accounts are created, instead the one allocated to you will be used.
    • {allocated-service-account} is the name of the service account you were allocated on the cluster.
  • No RBAC roles are created neither in the namespace nor the cluster.
  • Resource limits must be specified.
    • The limits are samples that should work, but you might want to review them in your particular setup.

Once that file is ready, if you named it config.yaml you now can install the sealed secrets Helm Chart like this:

helm install sealed-secrets -n {allocated-namespace} sealed-secrets/sealed-secrets --skip-crds -f config.yaml

Where {allocated-namespace} is the name of the namespace you were allocated in the cluster.



The kubeseal client is also available on homebrew:

brew install kubeseal


The kubeseal client is also available on MacPorts:

port install kubeseal


The kubeseal client is also available on Nixpkgs: (DISCLAIMER: Not maintained by bitnami-labs)

nix-env -iA nixpkgs.kubeseal


The kubeseal client can be installed on Linux, using the below commands:

KUBESEAL_VERSION='' # Set this to, for example, KUBESEAL_VERSION='0.23.0'
curl -OL "${KUBESEAL_VERSION:?}/kubeseal-${KUBESEAL_VERSION:?}-linux-amd64.tar.gz"
tar -xvzf kubeseal-${KUBESEAL_VERSION:?}-linux-amd64.tar.gz kubeseal
sudo install -m 755 kubeseal /usr/local/bin/kubeseal

If you have curl and jq installed on your machine, you can get the version dynamically this way. This can be useful for environments used in automation and such.

# Fetch the latest sealed-secrets version using GitHub API
KUBESEAL_VERSION=$(curl -s | jq -r '.[0].name' | cut -c 2-)

# Check if the version was fetched successfully
if [ -z "$KUBESEAL_VERSION" ]; then
    echo "Failed to fetch the latest KUBESEAL_VERSION"
    exit 1

curl -OL "${KUBESEAL_VERSION}/kubeseal-${KUBESEAL_VERSION}-linux-amd64.tar.gz"
tar -xvzf kubeseal-${KUBESEAL_VERSION}-linux-amd64.tar.gz kubeseal
sudo install -m 755 kubeseal /usr/local/bin/kubeseal

where KUBESEAL_VERSION is the version tag of the kubeseal release you want to use. For example: v0.18.0.

Installation from source

If you just want the latest client tool, it can be installed into $GOPATH/bin with:

go install

You can specify a release tag or a commit SHA instead of main.

The go install command will place the kubeseal binary at $GOPATH/bin:

$(go env GOPATH)/bin/kubeseal


Don't forget to check the release notes for guidance about possible breaking changes when you upgrade the client tool and/or the controller.

Supported Versions

Currently, only the latest version of Sealed Secrets is supported for production environments.

Compatibility with Kubernetes versions

The Sealed Secrets controller ensures compatibility with different versions of Kubernetes by relying on a stable Kubernetes API. Typically, Kubernetes versions above 1.16 are considered compatible. However, we officially support the currently recommended Kubernetes versions. Additionally, versions above 1.24 undergo thorough verification through our CI process with every release.


# Create a json/yaml-encoded Secret somehow:
# (note use of `--dry-run` - this is just a local file!)
echo -n bar | kubectl create secret generic mysecret --dry-run=client --from-file=foo=/dev/stdin -o json >mysecret.json

# This is the important bit:
kubeseal -f mysecret.json -w mysealedsecret.json

# At this point mysealedsecret.json is safe to upload to Github,
# post on Twitter, etc.

# Eventually:
kubectl create -f mysealedsecret.json

# Profit!
kubectl get secret mysecret

Note the SealedSecret and Secret must have the same namespace and name. This is a feature to prevent other users on the same cluster from re-using your sealed secrets. See the Scopes section for more info.

kubeseal reads the namespace from the input secret, accepts an explicit --namespace argument, and uses the kubectl default namespace (in that order). Any labels, annotations, etc on the original Secret are preserved, but not automatically reflected in the SealedSecret.

By design, this scheme does not authenticate the user. In other words, anyone can create a SealedSecret containing any Secret they like (provided the namespace/name matches). It is up to your existing config management workflow, cluster RBAC rules, etc to ensure that only the intended SealedSecret is uploaded to the cluster. The only change from existing Kubernetes is that the contents of the Secret are now hidden while outside the cluster.

Managing existing secrets

If you want the Sealed Secrets controller to manage an existing Secret, you can annotate your Secret with the "true" annotation. The existing Secret will be overwritten when unsealing a SealedSecret with the same name and namespace, and the SealedSecret will take ownership of the Secret (so that when the SealedSecret is deleted the Secret will also be deleted).

Patching existing secrets

New in v0.23.0

There are some use cases in which you don't want to replace the whole Secret but just add or modify some keys from the existing Secret. For this, you can annotate your Secret with "true". Using this annotation will make sure that secret keys, labels and annotations in the Secret that are not present in the SealedSecret won't be deleted, and those present in the SealedSecret will be added to the Secret (secret keys, labels and annotations that exist both in the Secret and the SealedSecret will be modified by the SealedSecret).

This annotation does not make the SealedSecret take ownership of the Secret. You can add both the patch and managed annotations to obtain the patching behavior while also taking ownership of the Secret.

Seal secret which can skip set owner references

If you want SealedSecret and the Secret to be independent, which mean when you delete the SealedSecret the Secret won't disappear with it, then you have to annotate that Secret with the annotation "true" ahead of applying the Usage steps. You still may also add "true" to your Secret so that your secret will be updated when SealedSecret is updated.

Update existing secrets

If you want to add or update existing sealed secrets without having the cleartext for the other items, you can just copy&paste the new encrypted data items and merge it into an existing sealed secret.

You must take care of sealing the updated items with a compatible name and namespace (see note about scopes above).

You can use the --merge-into command to update an existing sealed secrets if you don't want to copy&paste:

echo -n bar | kubectl create secret generic mysecret --dry-run=client --from-file=foo=/dev/stdin -o json \
  | kubeseal > mysealedsecret.json
echo -n baz | kubectl create secret generic mysecret --dry-run=client --from-file=bar=/dev/stdin -o json \
  | kubeseal --merge-into mysealedsecret.json

Raw mode (experimental)

Creating temporary Secret with the kubectl command, only to throw it away once piped to kubeseal can be a quite unfriendly user experience. We're working on an overhaul of the CLI experience. In the meantime, we offer an alternative mode where kubeseal only cares about encrypting a value to stdout, and it's your responsibility to put it inside a SealedSecret resource (not unlike any of the other k8s resources).

It can also be useful as a building block for editor/IDE integrations.

The downside is that you have to be careful to be consistent with the sealing scope, the namespace and the name.

See Scopes

strict scope (default):

$ echo -n foo | kubeseal --raw --namespace bar --name mysecret

namespace-wide scope:

$ echo -n foo | kubeseal --raw --namespace bar --scope namespace-wide

Include the annotation in the SealedSecret

  annotations: "true"

cluster-wide scope:

$ echo -n foo | kubeseal --raw --scope cluster-wide

Include the annotation in the SealedSecret

  annotations: "true"

Validate a Sealed Secret

If you want to validate an existing sealed secret, kubeseal has the flag --validate to help you.

Giving a file named sealed-secrets.yaml containing the following sealed secret:

kind: SealedSecret
  name: mysecret
  namespace: mynamespace
    foo: AgBy3i4OJSWK+PiTySYZZA9rO43cGDEq.....

You can validate if the sealed secret was properly created or not:

$ cat sealed-secrets.yaml | kubeseal --validate

In case of an invalid sealed secret, kubeseal will show:

$ cat sealed-secrets.yaml | kubeseal --validate
error: unable to decrypt sealed secret

Secret Rotation

You should always rotate your secrets. But since your secrets are encrypted with another secret, you need to understand how these two layers relate to take the right decisions.


If a sealing private key is compromised, you need to follow the instructions below in "Early key renewal" section before rotating any of your actual secret values.

SealedSecret key renewal and re-encryption features are not a substitute for periodical rotation of your actual secret values.

Sealing key renewal

Sealing keys are automatically renewed every 30 days. Which means a new sealing key is created and appended to the set of active sealing keys the controller can use to unseal SealedSecret resources.

The most recently created sealing key is the one used to seal new secrets when you use kubeseal and it's the one whose certificate is downloaded when you use kubeseal --fetch-cert.

The renewal time of 30 days is a reasonable default, but it can be tweaked as needed with the --key-renew-period=<value> flag for the command in the pod template of the SealedSecret controller. The value field can be given as golang duration flag (eg: 720h30m). Assuming that you've installed Sealed Secrets into the kube-system namespace, use the following command to edit the Deployment controller, and add the --key-renew-period parameter. Once you close your text editor, and the Deployment controller has been modified, a new Pod will be automatically created to replace the old Pod.

kubectl edit deployment/sealed-secrets-controller --namespace=kube-system

A value of 0 will deactivate automatic key renewal. Of course, you may have a valid use case for deactivating automatic sealing key renewal but experience has shown that new users often tend to jump to conclusions that they want control over key renewal, before fully understanding how sealed secrets work. Read more about this in the common misconceptions section below.

Unfortunately, you cannot use e.g. "d" as a unit for days because that's not supported by the Go stdlib. Instead of hitting your face with a palm, take this as an opportunity to meditate on the falsehoods programmers believe about time.

A common misunderstanding is that key renewal is often thought of as a form of key rotation, where the old key is not only obsolete but actually bad and that you thus want to get rid of it. It doesn't help that this feature has been historically called "key rotation", which can add to the confusion.

Sealed secrets are not automatically rotated and old keys are not deleted when new keys are generated. Old SealedSecret resources can be still decrypted (that's because old sealing keys are not deleted).

User secret rotation

The sealing key renewal and SealedSecret rotation are not a substitute for rotating your actual secrets.

A core value proposition of this tool is:

Encrypt your Secret into a SealedSecret, which is safe to store - even inside a public repository.

If you store anything in a version control storage, and in a public one in particular, you must assume you cannot ever delete that information.

If a sealing key somehow leaks out of the cluster you must consider all your SealedSecret resources encrypted with that key as compromised. No amount of sealing key rotation in the cluster or even re-encryption of existing SealedSecrets files can change that.

The best practice is to periodically rotate all your actual secrets (e.g. change the password) and craft new SealedSecret resources with those new secrets.

But if the SealedSecret controller was not renewing the sealing key that rotation would be moot, since the attacker could just decrypt the new secrets as well. Thus, you need to do both: periodically renew the sealing key and rotate your actual secrets!

Early key renewal

If you know or suspect a sealing key has been compromised you should renew the key ASAP before you start sealing your new rotated secrets, otherwise you'll be giving attackers access to your new secrets as well.

A key can be generated early by passing the current timestamp to the controller into a flag called --key-cutoff-time or an env var called SEALED_SECRETS_KEY_CUTOFF_TIME. The expected format is RFC1123, you can generate it with the date -R unix command.

Common misconceptions about key renewal

Sealed secrets sealing keys are not access control keys (e.g. a password). They are more like the GPG key you might use to read encrypted mail sent to you. Let's continue with the email analogy for a bit:

Imagine you have reasons to believe your private GPG key might have been compromised. You'd have more to lose than to gain if the first thing you do is just delete your private key. All the previous emails sent with that key are no longer accessible to you (unless you have a decrypted copy of those emails), nor are new emails sent by your friends whom you have not yet managed to tell to use the new key.

Sure, the content of those encrypted emails is not secure, as an attacker might now be able to decrypt them, but what's done is done. Your sudden loss of the ability to read those emails surely doesn't undo the damage. If anything, it's worse because you no longer know for sure what secret the attacker got to know. What you really want to do is to make sure that your friend stops using your old key and that from now on all further communication is encrypted with a new key pair (i.e. your friend must know about that new key).

The same logic applies to SealedSecrets. The ultimate goal is to secure your actual "user" secrets. The "sealing" secrets are just a mechanism, an "envelope". If a secret is leaked there is no going back, what's done is done.

You first need to ensure that new secrets don't get encrypted with that old compromised key (in the email analogy above that's: create a new key pair and give all your friends your new public key).

The second logical step is to neutralize the damage, which depends on the nature of the secret. A simple example is a database password: if you accidentally leak your database password, the thing you're supposed to do is simply to change your database password (on the database; and revoke the old one!) and update the SealedSecret resource with the new password (i.e. running kubeseal again).

Both steps are described in the previous sections, albeit in a less verbose way. There is no shame in reading them again, now that you have a more in-depth grasp of the underlying rationale.

Manual key management (advanced)

The SealedSecret controller and the associated workflow are designed to keep old sealing keys around and periodically add new ones. You should not delete old keys unless you know what you're doing.

That said, if you want you can manually manage (create, move, delete) sealing keys. They are just normal k8s secrets living in the same namespace where the SealedSecret controller lives (usually kube-system, but it's configurable).

There are advanced use cases that you can address by creative management of the sealing keys. For example, you can share the same sealing key among a few clusters so that you can apply exactly the same sealed secret in multiple clusters. Since sealing keys are just normal k8s secrets you can even use sealed secrets themselves and use a GitOps workflow to manage your sealing keys (useful when you want to share the same key among different clusters)!

Labeling a sealing key secret with anything other than active effectively deletes the key from the SealedSecret controller, but it is still available in k8s for manual encryption/decryption if need be.

NOTE SealedSecret controller currently does not automatically pick up manually created, deleted or relabeled sealing keys. An admin must restart the controller before the effect will apply.

Re-encryption (advanced)

Before you can get rid of some old sealing keys you need to re-encrypt your SealedSecrets with the latest private key.

kubeseal --re-encrypt <my_sealed_secret.json >tmp.json \
  && mv tmp.json my_sealed_secret.json

The invocation above will produce a new sealed secret file freshly encrypted with the latest key, without making the secrets leave the cluster to the client. You can then save that file in your version control system (kubeseal --re-encrypt doesn't update the in-cluster object).

Currently, old keys are not garbage collected automatically.

It's a good idea to periodically re-encrypt your SealedSecrets. But as mentioned above, don't lull yourself in a false sense of security: you must assume the old version of the SealedSecret resource (the one encrypted with a key you think of as dead) is still potentially around and accessible to attackers. I.e. re-encryption is not a substitute for periodically rotating your actual secrets.

Details (advanced)

This controller adds a new SealedSecret custom resource. The interesting part of a SealedSecret is a base64-encoded asymmetrically encrypted Secret.

The controller maintains a set of private/public key pairs as kubernetes secrets. Keys are labeled with and identified in the label as either active or compromised. On startup, The sealed secrets controller will...

  1. Search for these keys and add them to its local store if they are labeled as active.
  2. Create a new key
  3. Start the key rotation cycle


More details about crypto can be found here.


Developing guidelines can be found in the Developer Guide.


Can I encrypt multiple secrets at once, in one YAML / JSON file?

Yes, you can! Drop as many secrets as you like in one file. Make sure to separate them via --- for YAML and as extra, single objects in JSON.

Will you still be able to decrypt if you no longer have access to your cluster?

No, the private keys are only stored in the Secret managed by the controller (unless you have some other backup of your k8s objects). There are no backdoors - without that private key used to encrypt a given SealedSecrets, you can't decrypt it. If you can't get to the Secrets with the encryption keys, and you also can't get to the decrypted versions of your Secrets live in the cluster, then you will need to regenerate new passwords for everything, seal them again with a new sealing key, etc.

How can I do a backup of my SealedSecrets?

If you do want to make a backup of the encryption private keys, it's easy to do from an account with suitable access:

kubectl get secret -n kube-system -l -o yaml >main.key

echo "---" >> main.key
kubectl get secret -n kube-system sealed-secrets-key -o yaml >>main.key

NOTE: You need the second statement only if you ever installed sealed-secrets older than version 0.9.x on your cluster.

NOTE: This file will contain the controller's public + private keys and should be kept omg-safe!

NOTE: After sealing key renewal you should recreate your backup. Otherwise, your backup won't be able to decrypt new sealed secrets.

To restore from a backup after some disaster, just put that secrets back before starting the controller - or if the controller was already started, replace the newly-created secrets and restart the controller:

  • For Helm deployment:

    kubectl apply -f main.key
    kubectl delete pod -n kube-system -l
  • For deployment via controller.yaml manifest

    kubectl apply -f main.key
    kubectl delete pod -n kube-system -l name=sealed-secrets-controller

Can I decrypt my secrets offline with a backup key?

While treating sealed-secrets as long term storage system for secrets is not the recommended use case, some people do have a legitimate requirement for being able to recover secrets when the k8s cluster is down and restoring a backup into a new SealedSecret controller deployment is not practical.

If you have backed up one or more of your private keys (see previous question), you can use the kubeseal --recovery-unseal --recovery-private-key file1.key,file2.key,... command to decrypt a sealed secrets file.

What flags are available for kubeseal?

You can check the flags available using kubeseal --help.

How do I update parts of JSON/YAML/TOML/.. file encrypted with sealed secrets?

A kubernetes Secret resource contains multiple items, basically a flat map of key/value pairs. SealedSecrets operate at that level, and does not care what you put in the values. In other words it cannot make sense of any structured configuration file you might have put in a secret and thus cannot help you update individual fields in it.

Since this is a common problem, especially when dealing with legacy applications, we do offer an example of a possible workaround.

Can I bring my own (pre-generated) certificates?

Yes, you can provide the controller with your own certificates, and it will consume them. Please check here for a workaround.

How to use kubeseal if the controller is not running within the kube-system namespace?

If you installed the controller in a different namespace than the default kube-system, you need to provide this namespace to the kubeseal commandline tool. There are two options:

  1. You can specify the namespace via the command line option --controller-namespace <namespace>:
kubeseal --controller-namespace sealed-secrets <mysecret.json >mysealedsecret.json
  1. Via the environment variable SEALED_SECRETS_CONTROLLER_NAMESPACE:
kubeseal <mysecret.json >mysealedsecret.json

How to verify the images?

Our images are being signed using cosign. The signatures have been saved in our GitHub Container Registry.

Images up to and including v0.20.2 were signed using Cosign v1. Newer images are signed with Cosign v2.

It is pretty simple to verify the images:

# export the COSIGN_VARIABLE setting up the GitHub container registry signs path

# verify the image uploaded in GHCR
cosign verify --key .github/workflows/

# verify the image uploaded in Dockerhub
cosign verify --key .github/workflows/

How to use one controller for a subset of namespaces

If you want to use one controller for more than one namespace, but not all namespaces, you can provide additional namespaces using the command line flag --additional-namespaces=<namespace1>,<namespace2>,<...>. Make sure you provide appropriate roles and rolebindings in the target namespaces, so the controller can manage the secrets in there.


Click here to sign up to the Kubernetes Slack org.

Related projects