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Hackernoon logoA Guide to Protecting your Django Secret and OAuth Keys by@vladyslav

A Guide to Protecting your Django Secret and OAuth Keys

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@vladyslavvladyslav nykoliuk

software engineer @ planet earth 🌍

If you've stumbled upon my article, I assume you are working on a Django project and are wondering how to secure your project information, more importantly, security keys. If so, you've come to the right place as I am about to teach you the best method of doing it.

More often than not, I see many of my software engineer friends miss a couple of key points when developing Django projects, and that is, not hiding their SECRET_KEY and other OAuth keys. This is a crucial part of the security of Django as any information exposed can revoke a project.

Let's begin. Suppose we have just started a brand new Django project. Just in case, here is the format:

django-admin startproject project

Now that we have created a new project, let's navigate into the root directory, that being project/, and into the settings.py file.

On the 23rd line of the code, you will find a variable titled SECRET_KEY.

import os

# Build paths inside the project like this: os.path.join(BASE_DIR, ...)
BASE_DIR = os.path.dirname...

# SECURITY WARNING: keep the secret key used in production secret!
SECRET_KEY = 'ek0@9u(zemu^+%*-z3!&y9mu_7u+edg9%)c%423mdoec-mi*'

Here we see that, for the purpose of this blog post, my Django security key is exposed.

Now, I will introduce to you a method that will ensure you never expose your project's private keys ever again, dotenv.

In your project terminal, type

pip3 install python-dotenv

This will install a dotenv requirement that will be used to retrieve your secret keys from a file only you have access to.

Next, in your settings.py file, C & V (copy and paste) the following two lines:

from dotenv import load_dotenv
load_dotenv()

Afterward, in the root of your project, create a file titled .env which will serve as your environment variable secret storage for your project.

In the .env, you will declare your variables with an = sign and paste their information as such:

# .env
SECRET_KEY=ek0@9u(zemu^+%*-z3!&y9mu_7u+edg9%)c%423mdoec-mi*

Next, in your settings.py, you will retrieve the key as follows:

# settings.py
SECRET_KEY = str(os.getenv('SECRET_KEY'))

What this line does is make the os (operating system) get the .env file and bring in the data for the following key: SECRET_KEY.

To ensure no one receives access to the .env file, it is a general protocol to put your .env file in the .gitignore to make sure it won't be committed to GitHub.

If you were using any other keys, such as OAuth keys, the method would work the same. For example, here I will implement an OAuth key to use the Twitter OAuth method.

# settings.py
TWITTER_OAUTH_KEY = str(os.getenv('TWITTER_OAUTH_KEY'))

and retrieve the key from my environment file,

# .env
TWITTER_OAUTH_KEY=[twitter-oauth-key-here]

If you would like to follow my software engineering path, feel free to follow me on GitHub.

Also published at https://dev.to/vladyslavnua/how-to-protect-your-django-secret-and-oauth-keys-53fl

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