» Vault Agent Caching

Vault Agent Caching allows client-side caching of responses containing newly created tokens and responses containing leased secrets generated off of these newly created tokens. The renewals of the cached tokens and leases are also managed by the agent.

» Caching and Renewals

Response caching and renewals are managed by the agent only under these specific scenarios.

  1. Token creation requests are made through the agent. This means that any login operations performed using various auth methods and invoking the token creation endpoints of the token auth method via the agent will result in the response getting cached by the agent. Responses containing new tokens will be cached by the agent only if the parent token is already being managed by the agent or if the new token is an orphan token.

  2. Leased secret creation requests are made through the agent using tokens that are already managed by the agent. This means that any dynamic credentials that are issued using the tokens managed by the agent, will be cached and its renewals are taken care of.

» Using Auto-Auth Token

Vault Agent allows for easy authentication to Vault in a wide variety of environments using Auto-Auth. By setting the use_auto_auth_token (see below) configuration, clients will not be required to provide a Vault token to the requests made to the agent. When this configuration is set, if the request doesn't already bear a token, then the auto-auth token will be used to forward the request to the Vault server. This configuration will be overridden if the request already has a token attached, in which case, the token present in the request will be used to forward the request to the Vault server.

» Cache Evictions

The eviction of cache entries pertaining to secrets will occur when the agent can no longer renew them. This can happen when the secrets hit their maximum TTL or if the renewals result in errors.

Agent does some best-effort cache evictions by observing specific request types and response codes. For example, if a token revocation request is made via the agent and if the forwarded request to the Vault server succeeds, then agent evicts all the cache entries associated with the revoked token. Similarly, any lease revocation operation will also be intercepted by the agent and the respective cache entries will be evicted.

Note that while agent evicts the cache entries upon secret expirations and upon intercepting revocation requests, it is still possible for the agent to be completely unaware of the revocations that happen through direct client interactions with the Vault server. This could potentially lead to stale cache entries. For managing the stale entries in the cache, an endpoint /agent/v1/cache-clear(see below) is made available to manually evict cache entries based on some of the query criteria used for indexing the cache entries.

» Request Uniqueness

In order to detect repeat requests and return cached responses, agent will need to have a way to uniquely identify the requests. This computation as it stands today takes a simplistic approach (may change in future) of serializing and hashing the HTTP request along with all the headers and the request body. This hash value is then used as an index into the cache to check if the response is readily available. The consequence of this approach is that the hash value for any request will differ if any data in the request is modified. This has the side-effect of resulting in false negatives if say, the ordering of the request parameters are modified. As long as the requests come in without any change, caching behavior should be consistent. Identical requests with differently ordered request values will result in duplicated cache entries. A heuristic assumption that the clients will use consistent mechanisms to make requests, thereby resulting in consistent hash values per request is the idea upon which the caching functionality is built upon.

» Renewal Management

The tokens and leases are renewed by the agent using the secret renewer that is made available via the Vault server's Go API. Agent performs all operations in memory and does not persist anything to storage. This means that when the agent is shut down, all the renewal operations are immediately terminated and there is no way for agent to resume renewals after the fact. Note that shutting down the agent does not indicate revocations of the secrets, instead it only means that renewal responsibility for all the valid unrevoked secrets are no longer performed by the Vault agent.

» Agent CLI

Agent's listener address will be picked up by the CLI through the VAULT_AGENT_ADDR environment variable. This should be a complete URL such as "http://127.0.0.1:8200".

» API

» Cache Clear

This endpoint clears the cache based on given criteria. To use this API, some information on how the agent caches values should be known beforehand. Each response that is cached in the agent will be indexed on some factors depending on the type of request. Those factors can be the token that is belonging to the cached response, the token_accessor of the token belonging to the cached response, the request_path that resulted in the cached response, the lease that is attached to the cached response, the namespace to which the cached response belongs to, and a few more. This API exposes some factors through which associated cache entries are fetched and evicted.

Method Path Produces
POST /agent/v1/cache-clear 200 application/json

» Parameters

  • type (strings: required) - The type of cache entries to evict. Valid values are request_path, lease, token, token_accessor, and all. If the type is set to all, the entire cache is cleared.

  • value (string: required) - An exact value or the prefix of the value for the type selected. This parameter is optional when the type is set to all.

  • namespace (string: optional) - This is only applicable when the type is set to request_path. The namespace of which the cache entries to be evicted for the given request path.

» Sample Payload

{
  "type": "token",
  "value": "s.rlNjegSKykWcplOkwsjd8bP9"
}

» Sample Request

$ curl \
    --request POST \
    --data @payload.json \
    http://127.0.0.1:1234/agent/v1/cache-clear

» Configuration (cache)

The top level cache block has the following configuration entries:

  • use_auto_auth_token (bool: false) - If set, the requests made to agent without a Vault token will be forwarded to the Vault server with the auto-auth token attached. If the requests already bear a token, this configuration will be overridden and the token in the request will be used to forward the request to the Vault server.

» Configuration (listener)

  • listener (array of objects: required) - Configuration for the listeners.

There can be one or more listener blocks at the top level. These configuration values are common to all listener blocks.

  • type (string: required) - The type of the listener to use. Valid values are tcp and unix. Note: when using HCL this can be used as the key for the block, e.g. listener "tcp" {...}.

  • address (string: required) - The address for the listener to listen to. This can either be a URL path when using tcp or a file path when using unix. For example, 127.0.0.1:8200 or /path/to/socket. Defaults to 127.0.0.1:8200.

  • tls_disable (bool: false) - Specifies if TLS will be disabled.

  • tls_key_file (string: optional) - Specifies the path to the private key for the certificate.

  • tls_cert_file (string: optional) - Specifies the path to the certificate for TLS.

» Example Configuration

An example configuration, with very contrived values, follows:

auto_auth {
  method {
    type = "aws"
    wrap_ttl = 300
    config = {
      role = "foobar"
    }
  }

  sink {
    type = "file"
    config = {
      path = "/tmp/file-foo"
    }
  }
}

cache {
  use_auto_auth_token = true
}

listener "unix" {
  address = "/path/to/socket"
  tls_disable = true
}

listener "tcp" {
  address = "127.0.0.1:8200"
  tls_disable = true
}

vault {
  address = "http://127.0.0.1:8200"
}