Buildkite secrets

Buildkite secrets is an encrypted key-value store secrets management service offered by Buildkite for use by the Buildkite Agent. These secrets can be accessed using the buildkite-agent secret get command. The secrets are encrypted both at rest and in transit, and are decrypted on Buildkite's application servers when accessed by the agent.

Buildkite secrets:

  • Are scoped within a given cluster, and are accessible to all agents within that cluster only, since each cluster has its own unique secrets encryption key. The secrets are decrypted by the Buildkite control plane and then sent to the agent.

  • Are available to both Buildkite hosted as well as self-hosted agents.

Create a secret

Using the Buildkite interface

To create a new Buildkite secret using the Buildkite interface:

  1. Select Agents in the global navigation to access the Clusters page.
  2. Select the cluster in which to create the new Buildkite secret.
  3. Select Secrets to access the Secrets page, then select New Secret.
  4. Enter a Key for the secret, which can only contain letters, numbers, and underscores, as valid characters.


    • The maximum permitted length for a key is 255 characters.
    • If you attempt to use any other characters for the key, or you begin your key with buildkite or bk (regardless of case), your secret will not be created when selecting Create Secret.
  5. Enter the Value for the secret. This value can be any number of valid UTF-8 characters up to a maximum of 8 kilobytes. Be aware that once the secret is created, this value will no longer be visible through the Buildkite interface and will be redacted when output in build logs.

  6. Select Create Secret to create your new secret, which can now be accessed within jobs through the buildkite-agent secret get command.

Use a Buildkite secret in a job

From a build script or hook

Once you've created a secret, the buildkite-agent secret get command can be used within the Buildkite Agent to print the secret's value to standard out (stdout). You can use this command within standard bash-like commands to redirect the secret's output into an environment variable, a file, or your own tool that uses the Buildkite secret's value directly, for example:

  • Setting a Buildkite secret with the key secret_name into an environment variable called SECRET_VAR:

    SECRET_VAR=$(buildkite-agent secret get secret_name)

  • Redirecting the value of a Buildkite secret with the key secret_name into a file called secret.txt:

    buildkite-agent secret get secret_name > secret.txt

  • Passing the output of your Buildkite secret (via the buildkite-agent secret get command) to your own tool named cli-tool that accepts a secret via its -token option:

    cli-tool —token $(buildkite-agent secret get secret_name)

Here’s a simple example of how one of these commands might appear in a Buildkite Pipeline step:

  - agents: { queue: "hosted" }
      - buildkite-agent secret get secret_name > secret.txt


If any Pipeline, script or your own tool (accidentally) prints out the value of any Buildkite secret to standard out, this value is automatically redacted from the build logs.

If for any reason you detect a secret value that isn't redacted, please rotate your secrets and contact

Security controls

Buildkite secrets are designed, with the following controls in place:

  • Secrets are encrypted in transit using TLS.
  • Secrets are always stored encrypted at rest.
  • All access to the secrets are logged.
  • Employee access to secrets is strictly limited and audited.

Best practices

Buildkite secrets is not a zero-knowledge system, whereby Buildkite owns, stores, and manages the keys used for encrypting the secrets stored in the service at rest and in transit. You should implement additional controls to manage the lifecycle of secrets stored within Buildkite secrets, in addition to any monitoring capability you may require in line with your risk appetite. For example:

  • Only store short-lived secrets in Buildkite secrets. Do not store long-lived secrets or secrets with no expiry in Buildkite secrets.
  • Track the secrets stored in Buildkite secrets within your own asset management processes.
  • Enable logging for services that are accessed using the secrets stored in Buildkite secrets.
  • Should you detect a compromise or are concerned about the security of your secrets, please contact immediately.