Configuring User Credential Storage


When using the Anchore internal DB to manage user identities (external management is optional in the Enterprise version), all user information is stored in the Anchore DB. The credentials can be stored plaintext in the DB, which allows efficient usage internally for dev/test systems, or the credentials can be stored in hashed form using the Argon2 hashing algorithm.

Hashed passwords are much more secure, but are expensive to compare and cannot be used for internal service communication since they cannot be reversed. Anchore provides a token based authentication mechanism as well (a simplified Password-Grant flow of Oauth2) to mitigate the performance issue, but it requires that all Anchore services be deployed with a shared secret in the configuration or a public/private keypair common to all services.


The configuration of how passwords are stored is set in the user_authentication section of the config.yaml file and must be consistent across all components of an Anchore Engine deployment. Mismatch in this configuration between components of the system will result in the system not being able to communicate internally.

  hashed_passwords: true|false

By default, hashed_passwords is set to false. This supports upgrade from previous versions of Anchore as well as usage for installations without a shared key or public/private keys for Anchore. When oauth is not configured in the system, Anchore must be able to use HTTP Basic authentication between internal services and thus requires credentials that can be read.

Bearer Tokens/OAuth2

If Anchore is configured to support bearer tokens, the tokens are generated and returned to the user but never persisted in the database. All tokens expire, and currently Anchore does not support refresh tokens, upon expiration a user must re-authenticate with the username and password to get a new token. Users must still have password credentials, however. Password persistence and protection configuration still applies as in the Password section above.

Configuring Hashed Passwords and OAuth

NOTE: password storage configuration must be done at the time of deployment, it cannot be modified at runtime or after installation with an existing DB since it will invalidate all existing credentials, including internal system credentials and the system will not be functional. You must choose the mechanism at system deployment time.

Set in config.yaml for all components of the deployment:

Option 1: Use a shared secret for signing/verifying oauth tokens

    enabled: true
  hashed_passwords: true
  secret: mysecretvalue

Option 2: Use a public/private key pair, delivered as pem files on the filesystem of the containers anchore runs in:

    enabled: true
  hashed_passwords: true
  private_key_path: <path to private key pem file>
  public_key_path: <path to public key pem file>

Using environment variables with the config.yaml bundled into the Anchore provided anchore-engine image is also an option. NOTE: These are only valid when using the config.yaml provided in the image due to that file referencing them explicitly as replacement values.

ANCHORE_AUTH_SECRET = the string to use as a secret
ANCHORE_AUTH_PUBKEY = path to public key file
ANCHORE_AUTH_PRIVKEY = path to the private key file
ANCHORE_OAUTH_ENABLED = boolean to enable/disable oauth support
ANCHORE_OAUTH_TOKEN_EXPIRATION = the integer value to set number of seconds a token should be valid (default is 3600/1 hr)
ANCHORE_AUTH_ENABLE_HASHED_PASSWORDS = boolean to enable/disable hashed password storage in the anchore db instead of clear text
Last modified December 24, 2020