How to store api keys securely python?

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When working with APIs in Python, it is common to use API keys for authentication and authorization. However, storing these API keys securely is crucial to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access. In this article, we will explore best practices for storing API keys securely in Python.

Using Environment Variables

Environment variables provide a convenient and secure way to store sensitive information, such as API keys. Python provides the `os` module, which allows us to access environment variables easily. By storing API keys as environment variables, we can separate the sensitive information from our codebase.

To set an environment variable in Python, we can use the `os.environ` dictionary. For example, to set an API key named `API_KEY`, we can use the following code:

import os

os.environ[‘API_KEY’] = ‘your-api-key’

We can then access the API key in our code using `os.environ[‘API_KEY’]`. This approach ensures that the API key is not hardcoded in the code and can be easily changed without modifying the codebase.

Using Configuration Files

Another common approach to store API keys securely is by using configuration files. These files can be stored outside the codebase, making it easier to manage and update the API keys.

Python provides several libraries for working with configuration files, such as `configparser` and `dotenv`. These libraries allow us to define key-value pairs in a configuration file and read them in our code.

For example, using the `configparser` library, we can create a configuration file named `config.ini` with the following content:

API_KEY = your-api-key

We can then read the API key in our Python code using the following code:

import configparser

config = configparser.ConfigParser()‘config.ini’)

api_key = config[‘API_KEYS’][‘API_KEY’]

Using configuration files provides an additional layer of security as the file can be encrypted or restricted to specific users.

Using Key Management Systems

For more advanced security requirements, we can use key management systems (KMS) to store and manage API keys securely. KMS solutions, such as AWS Key Management Service (KMS) or Google Cloud Key Management Service (KMS), provide encryption and access control for sensitive data.

These systems allow us to encrypt the API keys and securely store them. When our code needs to access the API key, it can request the decrypted key from the KMS. This approach ensures that the API keys are never exposed in plain text and can only be accessed by authorized applications.

Securing API Key Access

In addition to storing API keys securely, it is essential to secure the access to these keys. Here are some best practices to consider:

Limit access: Only provide API keys to the necessary individuals or applications. Restricting access reduces the risk of unauthorized use or exposure.

Rotate keys regularly: Regularly rotate API keys to minimize the impact of a potential breach. By changing the keys periodically, even if a key is compromised, it will have a limited lifespan.

Monitor API key usage: Implement monitoring and logging mechanisms to track API key usage. This allows you to detect any suspicious activity and take appropriate actions.


Storing API keys securely is crucial to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access. By using environment variables, configuration files, or key management systems, we can ensure that API keys are stored separately from the codebase and are accessed securely. Additionally, securing the access to API keys by limiting access, rotating keys regularly, and monitoring usage further enhances the overall security.


– Python `os` module:
– `configparser` library:
– `dotenv` library:
– AWS Key Management Service (KMS):
– Google Cloud Key Management Service (KMS):