Richard Hailstone

Author Archives: Richard Hailstone

Simplifying secrets management with CyberArk and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Access credentials and secrets are a crucial piece of today’s infrastructure management: if they get compromised, the environment itself is at risk. Thus some time ago, back at about version 3.5.1, the idea of a secrets management system was introduced into Ansible Tower, one of the components of our Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform. What this essentially means is that Ansible Tower has a credential store where it will encrypt at-rest secrets that you need in order to log in to a remote host, authenticate with a cloud endpoint or pull content from a version control system. 

We have always needed secrets in order to log in and then configure a remote resource. We do this every day with usernames and passwords. Ansible Tower has a very secure built-in mechanism for providing this capability, but some may see that as an additional security island or bespoke to the enterprise direction. In this blog post, I will highlight the Ansible way of solving the “security island” problem and propose a solution using Ansible credential plugins integration via CyberArk Conjur. Conjur is an API addressable vault where you store access and authorization information instead of having the secrets stored Continue reading

Manage Secrets and Protect Sensitive Data


Automation is an essential part of modern IT. In this blog I focus on Ansible credential plugins integration via Hashicorp Vault, an API addressable secrets engine which will make life easier for anyone wishing to handle secrets management and automation better. In order to automate effectively, modern systems require multiple secrets: certificates, database credentials, keys for external services, operating systems, networking. Understanding who is accessing secret credentials and when is difficult and often platform-specific and to manage key rotation, secure storage and detailed audit logging across a heterogeneous toolset is almost impossible. Red Hat Ansible Tower solves many of these issues on its own, but its integration with enterprise secret management solutions means it can utilize secrets on demand without human interaction.

In terms of secrets management, I will demonstrate how some of the risks associated with an automation service account can be mitigated by replacing password authentication with ssh certificate based authentication. In the context of automation, a service account is used to provide authorised access into endpoints from a central location.  Best practices around security state that, shared accounts could pose a risk. While Red Hat Ansible Tower has the ability to obfuscate passwords, private keys, etc. Continue reading