Using the SecretStore in automation

This article provides an example for using a Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore vault in an automation scenario. A SecretStore vault provides you a way to securely store and retrieve the passwords, tokens and other secrets you need to use in your automation pipeline on the local machine.

Setting up the host the runs the automation

For this example you must first install and configure the SecretManagement modules. This example assumes that your automation host is running Windows. These commands must be run in the user context of the automation account on the host.

Install-Module -Name Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore -Repository PSGallery -Force
Install-Module -Name Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretManagement -Repository PSGallery -Force
Import-Module Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore
Import-Module Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretManagement

You must also create a password as a SecureString that is securely exported to an XML file and encrypted by Windows Data Protection (DPAPI). The following command prompts you for a password. In this example the UserName is unimportant.

PS> $credential = Get-Credential -UserName 'SecureStore'

PowerShell credential request
Enter your credentials.
Password for user SecureStore: **************

Once you have the password you can save it to an encrypted XML file.

$securePasswordPath = 'C:\automation\passwd.xml'
$credential.Password |  Export-Clixml -Path $securePasswordPath

Next you must configure the SecretStore vault. The configuration sets user interaction to None, so that SecretStore never prompts the user. The configuration requires a password, and the password is passed in as a SecureString object. The -Confirm:false parameter is used so that PowerShell does not prompt for confirmation.

Register-SecretVault -Name SecretStore -ModuleName Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore -DefaultVault
$password = Import-CliXml -Path $securePasswordPath

$storeConfiguration = @{
    Authentication = 'Password'
    PasswordTimeout = 3600 # 1 hour
    Interaction = 'None'
    Password = $password
    Confirm = $false
Set-SecretStoreConfiguration @storeConfiguration

Now that you have the vault installed and configured, you can use Set-Secret to add the secrets you need for your automation scripts.

Using secrets in automation

The SecretStore password must be provided in a secure fashion. Here the password is being imported from a file that was encrypted using Windows Data Protection (DPAPI).


This is a Windows-only solution, but another option is to use a secure variable provided by a CI system like GitHub Actions.

The automation script needs to unlock the vault to retrieve the secrets needed in the script. The Unlock-SecretStore cmdlet is used to unlock the SecretStore for this session. The password timeout was configured for 1 hour. The vault remains unlocked in the session for that amount of time. After the timeout, the vault must be unlocked again before secrets can be accessed.

$password = Import-CliXml -Path $securePasswordPath
Unlock-SecretStore -Password $password
$automationPassword = Get-Secret -Name CIJobSecret