Getting started

Bank-Vaults is a swiss-army knife with multiple manifestations, so the first steps depend on what you want to achieve. Check one of the following guides to get an overview:

Deploy with Helm

We have some fully fledged, production-ready Helm charts for deploying:

With the help of these charts you can run a HA Vault instance with automatic initialization, unsealing, and external configuration which would otherwise be a tedious manual operation. Also secrets from Vault can be injected into your Pods directly as environment variables (without using Kubernetes Secrets). These charts can be used easily for development purposes as well.

Note: Starting with Bank-Vaults version 1.6.0, only Helm 3 is supported. If you have installed the chart with Helm 2 and now you are trying to upgrade with Helm3, see the Bank-Vaults 1.6.0 release notes for detailed instructions.

Deploy a local Vault operator

This is the simplest scenario: you install the Vault operator on a simple cluster. The following commands install a single-node Vault instance that stores unseal and root tokens in Kubernetes secrets.

  1. Install the Bank-Vaults operator:

    helm repo add banzaicloud-stable
    helm upgrade --install vault-operator banzaicloud-stable/vault-operator
  2. Create a Vault instance using the Vault custom resources. This will create a Kubernetes CustomResource called vault and a PersistentVolumeClaim for it:

    kubectl apply -f
    kubectl apply -f
  3. Wait a few seconds, then check the operator and the vault pods:

    kubectl get pods

    Expected output:

    NAME                                                        READY     STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    vault-0                                                     3/3       Running   0          10s
    vault-configurer-6c545cb6b4-dmvb5                           1/1       Running   0          10s
    vault-operator-788559bdc5-kgqkg                             1/1       Running   0          23s
  4. Configure your Vault client to access the Vault instance running in the vault-0 pod.

    1. Port-forward into the pod:

      kubectl port-forward vault-0 8200 &
    2. Set the address of the Vault instance.

      export VAULT_ADDR=
    3. Import the CA certificate of the Vault instance by running the following commands (otherwise, you’ll get x509: certificate signed by unknown authority errors):

      kubectl get secret vault-tls -o jsonpath="{\.crt}" | base64 --decode > $PWD/vault-ca.crt
      export VAULT_CACERT=$PWD/vault-ca.crt

      Alternatively, you can instruct the Vault client to skip verifying the certificate of Vault by running: export VAULT_SKIP_VERIFY=true

    4. Check that you can access the vault:

      vault status

      Expected output:

      Key             Value
      ---             -----
      Seal Type       shamir
      Initialized     true
      Sealed          false
      Total Shares    5
      Threshold       3
      Version         1.5.4
      Cluster Name    vault-cluster-27ecd0e6
      Cluster ID      ed5492f3-7ef3-c600-aef3-bd77897fd1e7
      HA Enabled      false
    5. To authenticate to Vault, you can access its root token by running:

      export VAULT_TOKEN=$(kubectl get secrets vault-unseal-keys -o jsonpath={.data.vault-root} | base64 --decode)

      Note: Using the root token is recommended only in test environments. In production environment, create dedicated, time-limited tokens.

    6. Now you can interact with Vault. For example, add a secret by running vault kv put secret/demosecret/aws AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=s3cr3t If you want to access the Vault web interface, open in your browser using the root token (to reveal the token, run echo $VAULT_TOKEN).

For other configuration examples of the Vault CustomResource, see the YAML files in the operator/deploy directory of the project (we use these for testing). After you are done experimenting with Bank-Vaults and you want to delete the operator, you can delete the related CRs:

kubectl delete -f
kubectl delete -f

Deploy the mutating webhook

You can deploy the Vault Secrets Webhook using Helm. Note that:

  • The Helm chart of the vault-secrets-webhook contains the templates of the required permissions as well.
  • The deployed RBAC objects contain the necessary permissions fo running the webhook.


  • The user you use for deploying the chart to the Kubernetes cluster must have cluster-admin privileges.
  • The chart requires Helm 3.
  • To interact with Vault (for example, for testing), the vault command line client must be installed on your computer.
  • You have deployed Vault with the operator and configured your Vault client to access it, as described in Deploy a local Vault operator.

Deploy the webhook

  1. Create a namespace for the webhook and add a label to the namespace, for example, vault-infra:

    kubectl create namespace vault-infra
    kubectl label namespace vault-infra name=vault-infra
  2. Deploy the vault-secrets-webhook chart:

    helm repo add banzaicloud-stable
    helm upgrade --namespace vault-infra --install vault-secrets-webhook banzaicloud-stable/vault-secrets-webhook

    For further details, see the webhook’s Helm chart repository.

  3. Check that the pods are running:

    kubectl get pods --namespace vault-infra
    NAME                                     READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    vault-secrets-webhook-58b97c8d6d-qfx8c   1/1     Running   0          22s
    vault-secrets-webhook-58b97c8d6d-rthgd   1/1     Running   0          22s
  4. Write a secret into Vault (the Vault CLI must be installed on your computer):

    vault kv put secret/demosecret/aws AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=s3cr3t

    Expected output:

    Key              Value
    ---              -----
    created_time     2020-11-04T11:39:01.863988395Z
    deletion_time    n/a
    destroyed        false
    version          1
  5. Apply the following deployment to your cluster. The webhook will mutate this deployment because it has an environment variable having a value which is a reference to a path in Vault:

  6. Check the mutated deployment.

    kubectl describe deployment vault-test

    The output should look similar to the following:

    Name:                   vault-test
    Namespace:              default
    CreationTimestamp:      Wed, 04 Nov 2020 12:44:18 +0100
    Labels:                 <none>
    Annotations:   1
    Replicas:               1 desired | 1 updated | 1 total | 1 available | 0 unavailable
    StrategyType:           RollingUpdate
    MinReadySeconds:        0
    RollingUpdateStrategy:  25% max unavailable, 25% max surge
    Pod Template:
      Annotations: https://vault:8200
      Service Account:  default
        Image:      alpine
        Port:       <none>
        Host Port:  <none>
          echo $AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY && echo going to sleep... && sleep 10000
          AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY:  vault:secret/data/demosecret/aws#AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY
        Mounts:                   <none>
      Volumes:                    <none>
      Type           Status  Reason
      ----           ------  ------
      Available      True    MinimumReplicasAvailable
      Progressing    True    NewReplicaSetAvailable
    OldReplicaSets:  <none>
    NewReplicaSet:   vault-test-55c569f9 (1/1 replicas created)
      Type    Reason             Age   From                   Message
      ----    ------             ----  ----                   -------
      Normal  ScalingReplicaSet  29s   deployment-controller  Scaled up replica set vault-test-55c569f9 to 1

    As you can see, the original environment variables in the definition are unchanged, and the sensitive value of the AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY variable is only visible within the alpine container.

Install the CLI tool

On macOs, you can directly install the CLI from Homebrew:

brew install banzaicloud/tap/bank-vaults

Alternatively, fetch the source code and compile it using go get:

go get
go get

Docker images

If you want to build upon our Docker images, you can find them on Docker Hub:

docker pull banzaicloud/bank-vaults
docker pull banzaicloud/vault-operator
docker pull banzaicloud/vault-env