Skip to content

Using secrets

This page shows how to use secrets within your functions for API tokens, passwords and similar.

Using secrets is a two step process. First you need to define a new secret in your cluster and then you need to 'use' the secret to your function by adding it the deployment request or stack YAML file.


  • Secrets can be specified via API, CLI or YAML file
  • You can use one to many secrets in a function
  • Secrets must exist in the cluster at deployment time
  • Secrets need to be created with kubectl or docker secret create, but in the near future an API will exist to create, list, delete and update secrets.

A note on environmental variables

The OpenFaaS contributors believe that enviromental variables should be reserved for non-confidential data only. All secrets are made available in the container file-system and should be read from the following location: /var/openfaas/secrets/<secret-name>. Both Kubernetes and Swarm have excellent stores for secrets. In the sample below we show how to create and consume a secret in a function.

See also: YAML reference: environmental variables.


We have built a sample function that can be deployed alongside a secret (an API key) to validate incoming requests. It is available in the openfaas/faas repo: ApiKeyProtected. Only requests presenting a valid API key value will be validated.

Creating a file for the secret

Create a text file named secret-api-key.txt and add the following value:


Now we can import the secret into the cluster.

Define the secret with faas-cli

faas-cli create secret secret-api-key \
You can create the secret with faas-cli secret create, or by using the Docker / Kubernetes CLI.

Define a secret in Kubernetes (advanced)

In Kubernetes we can leverage the built-in secret store to securely store secrets for functions.

Type in:

kubectl create secret generic secret-api-key \
  --from-file=secret-api-key=secret-api-key.txt \
  --namespace openfaas-fn

Here we have explicitly named the key of the secret value so that when it is mounted into the function container, it will be named exactly secret-api-key instead of secret_api_key.txt.

You can skip creating a file and use input directly from the command-line like this:

kubectl create secret generic secret-api-key \
  --from-literal secret-api-key="R^YqzKzSJw51K9zPpQ3R3N" \
  --namespace openfaas-fn

Define a secret in Docker Swarm (advanced)

Docker has a built-in secrets store just like Kubernetes which can be used to securely store secrets for our functions.

Type in:

docker secret create secret-api-key \


echo "R^YqzKzSJw51K9zPpQ3R3N" | docker secret create secret-api-key -

Use the secret in your function

OpenFaaS secrets are mounted as files to /var/openfaas/secrets inside your function's filesystem. To use a secret, just read the file from the secrets location using the name of the secret for the filename such as: /var/openfaas/secrets/secret-api-key.

Note: prior to version 0.8.2 secrets were mounted to /run/secrets. The example functions demonstrate a smooth upgrade implementation.

A simple go implementation could look like this

func getAPISecret(secretName string) (secretBytes []byte, err error) {
    // read from the openfaas secrets folder
    secretBytes, err = ioutil.ReadFile("/var/openfaas/secrets/" + secretName)
    if err != nil {
        // read from the original location for backwards compatibility with openfaas <= 0.8.2
        secretBytes, err = ioutil.ReadFile("/run/secrets/" + secretName)

    return secretBytes, err

This example comes from the ApiKeyProtected sample function.

Deploy a function with secrets

Create a stack.yaml file in the current directory:

    name: faas

      lang: dockerfile
      skip_build: true
      image: functions/api-key-protected:latest
      - secret-api-key

Now deploy the function with: faas-cli deploy

Once the deploy is done you can test the function using the faas-cli or curl. The function reads the secret value that was mounted into the container by OpenFaaS and then returns a success or failure message based on if your header matches that secret value. The same code runs exactly the same without modifications on both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm.

Let's see how that works:

echo | faas-cli invoke protectedapi -H "X-Api-Key=R^YqzKzSJw51K9zPpQ3R3N"
Unlocked the function!

Now let's use an incorrect value for the api-key:

echo | faas-cli invoke protectedapi -H "X-Api-Key=thisiswrong"
Access denied!

You can also use multiple secrets for the same function or across multiple functions.