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The Need to Rotate Secrets After the CircleCI Security Incident

The recent security incident at CircleCI has highlighted the importance of rotating secrets. In response to the incident, CircleCI released a Security Best Practices Guide which recommends users rotate their secrets. This article will explain why it is important to rotate secrets and provide instructions on how to do so.

Rotating secrets is an important part of maintaining secure infrastructure, especially after a major incident like the one experienced by CircleCI earlier this year. By following the recommendations outlined in this article, users can ensure their data remains safe from potential threats while using services like CircleCI securely and efficiently.

Why is it Important to Rotate Secrets?

It is important to rotate secrets regularly in order to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and ensure that any compromised credentials are not used for long periods of time. This is especially true after a security incident, such as the one that occurred at CircleCI. In this particular incident, a malicious actor was able to gain access to a set of credentials which were then used to access sensitive data. If the credentials had been rotated regularly, the incident would have been significantly less severe.

Secrets management refers to the tools and methods for managing digital authentication credentials (secrets), including passwords, keys, APIs, tokens and certificates. These secrets are used by privileged users or machines in order to authenticate themselves when accessing sensitive applications or data. Secrets management enables organizations to enforce consistent security policies and assure resources can only be accessed by authenticated and authorized users or machines.

The practice of secret management allows developers to securely store these secrets in a secure environment with encryption so they cannot be accessed without authorization. This includes storing credentials for databases in Secrets Manager which can then be used by an application when accessing the database. By rotating these secrets on a regular basis it ensures that any compromised credentials are not able use them for long periods of time thus reducing risk associated with unauthorized access of sensitive data after an incident such as CircleCI’s security breach has occurred.

How to Rotate Secrets

Rotating Secrets is an important security measure that can help protect your data and systems from malicious actors. The process of rotating secrets is relatively straightforward, but it does require some preparation. First, you will need to create a new set of credentials and store them securely using a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. Once the new credentials are in place, you will need to update your configuration to use the new credentials by changing them in your code or using an environment variable manager such as 12 Factor or Envato. Finally, you should remove the old set of secrets from your system by deleting them from your code or removing the environment variable from your environment variable manager.

Secrets Automation makes it easy to rotate secrets with; When you rotate a token or create a new one, it’s automatically synced everywhere for added convenience and security. Additionally, if you’re working with AWS for instance, keep in mind that some businesses only support a one-user/one-password setup so be sure to check their documentation before proceeding with rotation steps.

It’s important to note that while rotating secrets can help protect against malicious actors who may have access to passwords stored in plain text files or databases, there are still other risks associated with password management such as keyloggers which could eventually get all of the passwords used on the system if left unchecked for too long – making it essential that longer lived passwords are regularly rotated as well. Furthermore, LastPass recently experienced a security incident which highlights why regular rotation is so important; their statement on this breach was full of omissions and half-truths which further emphasizes why taking proactive measures like rotating secrets is necessary for any business looking to stay secure online today.

Best Practices for Rotating Secrets

Secrets management is an essential part of any organization’s security strategy. It is important to ensure that secrets are stored securely and rotated regularly in order to protect sensitive data from malicious actors. The best practices for rotating secrets include using a password manager to generate and store your secrets, rotating your secrets regularly, and ensuring that environment variables are properly configured. Additionally, organizations should enforce password security best practices such as length, complexity, uniqueness expiration, rotation and more across all types of passwords. Furthermore, the NIST guidelines now require the use of multi-factor authentication for securing any personal information available online. By following these best practices for rotating secrets organizations can ensure their data remains secure and out of threat actors’ reach.


The need to rotate secrets after the CircleCI security incident is paramount. By following the steps outlined, organizations can ensure that their secrets are rotated properly and their data remains secure. This process involves periodically updating a secret, which includes updating credentials in both the secret and database or other storage locations. Additionally, information backups should be stored securely with building security, proper software usage, and unauthorized user prevention measures in place. Furthermore, secret rotation is an essential part of any secret management solution to keep credentials safe from malicious actors who seek to take over privileged accounts for access to applications, data and key administrative functions. Taking these steps can help protect against surveillance tactics as well as provide a layer of safety from malicious actors. Ultimately, rotating secrets is an important step for keeping data secure after a security incident or otherwise.

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