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My PubNub Publish and Subscription Key leaked! What should I do?

What is a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key and how it is used?

PubNub Publish and Subscription Key are unique identifiers generated by PubNub to authenticate and authorize access to its real-time messaging platform. The Publish Key is used to send messages to channels, while the Subscription Key is used to receive messages from channels.

When working with PubNub, developers should understand the main use cases for the Publish and Subscription Key:

  • Authenticate and authorize clients: The Publish Key is used to authenticate the client when sending messages, while the Subscription Key is used to authorize the client to receive messages. This ensures that only authorized clients can interact with the PubNub service.
  • Secure message transmission: The Publish Key is used to securely send messages from the publisher to the PubNub network, while the Subscription Key is used to securely receive messages from the PubNub network to the subscriber. This helps protect the confidentiality and integrity of the messages being transmitted.
  • Manage access control: By using different Publish and Subscription Keys for different clients or channels, developers can implement fine-grained access control policies. This allows them to control which clients can publish or subscribe to specific channels, enhancing the security of the communication process.

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1. Code snippets to prevent PubNub Publish and Subscription Key hardcoding using environment variables

Using environment variables for storing PubNub Publish and Subscription Keys in your code is a secure practice for the following reasons:

  • Environment variables are not hard-coded in the codebase, reducing the risk of exposure if the code is leaked or shared.
  • Environment variables are stored outside of the code repository, adding an additional layer of security.
  • Environment variables can be managed separately from the code, allowing for easy rotation and update of keys without changing the code.
  • Environment variables are not visible in the application code during runtime, making it harder for attackers to access sensitive information.

How to secure your secrets using environment variables

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2. Code snippet to prevent PubNub Publish and Subscription Key hardcoding using AWS Secrets Manager

Using AWS Secrets Manager to manage PubNub Publish and Subscription Keys is a secure way to handle sensitive data. Here are code snippets in five different programming languages that demonstrate how to retrieve the PubNub Publish and Subscription Key from AWS Secrets Manager.

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3. Code snippet to prevent PubNub Publish and Subscription Key hardcoding using HashiCorp Vault

Using HashiCorp Vault for managing PubNub Publish and Subscription Keys is a great way to enhance security. Here are code snippets in five different programming languages for securely handling a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key using HashiCorp Vault.

Remember to replace the VAULT_ADDR and VAULT_TOKEN with your Vault server address and authentication token. The snippets assume that the PubNub Publish and Subscription Key is stored under the api_key field within Vault. The specifics of the Vault path and field names should be adjusted to match your Vault setup.

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4. Code snippet to prevent PubNub Publish and Subscription Key hardcoding using CyberArk Conjur

Using CyberArk Conjur to manage PubNub Publish and Subscription Key is a secure way to handle sensitive data. Here are code snippets in five different programming languages that demonstrate how to retrieve the PubNub Publish and Subscription Key from CyberArk Conjur.

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How to generate a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key?

To generate a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the PubNub website and create an account if you don't already have one.
  2. Once logged in, navigate to the PubNub dashboard.
  3. Click on the "Create New App" button to create a new app.
  4. Enter the required details for your app, such as the name and description.
  5. After creating the app, you will be provided with a Publish Key and a Subscription Key.

These keys are essential for establishing communication between your application and the PubNub network. Make sure to keep them secure and use them in your code to enable real-time messaging capabilities.

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My PubNub Publish and Subscription Key leaked, what are the possible reasons?

There are several reasons why a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key might have been leaked:

  • Improper storage: If the keys are stored in a public repository or hardcoded in the application code, they can be easily accessed by unauthorized users.
  • Accidental exposure: Developers may inadvertently include the keys in error messages, logs, or other public-facing information.
  • Phishing attacks: Hackers may use social engineering tactics to trick developers into revealing their keys.
  • Insufficient access control: If access to the keys is not properly restricted, unauthorized individuals may gain access to them.

What are the risks of leaking a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key

When it comes to PubNub Publish and Subscription Keys, it is crucial for developers to understand the risks associated with leaking these keys. These keys are sensitive pieces of information that, if exposed, can lead to security vulnerabilities and potential breaches. Here are some risks of leaking a PubNub Publish and Subscription Key:

  • Data Breaches: Leaking these keys can lead to unauthorized access to your PubNub data, potentially exposing sensitive information.
  • Unauthorized Usage: Attackers can misuse your keys to send messages, listen in on channels, or even incur additional costs by using your PubNub account.
  • Reputation Damage: A security incident resulting from leaked keys can damage the reputation of your organization and erode trust with your users.
  • Financial Loss: Unauthorized usage of your PubNub account can lead to financial losses, especially if the attackers incur additional charges or disrupt your services.

Therefore, it is essential for developers to follow best practices in secret management and ensure that PubNub Publish and Subscription Keys are kept secure and never exposed to unauthorized parties.

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PubNub Publish and Subscription Key security best practices

  • Avoid embedding the secret directly in your code. Instead, use environment variables or secrets managers
  • Secure storage: store the PubNub Publish and Subscription Key in a secure location, such as a password manager or a secrets management service.
  • Regular rotation: periodically rotate the API key to minimize the risk of long-term exposure.
  • Restrict permissions: apply the principle of least privilege by only granting the key the minimum necessary permissions.
  • Monitor usage: regularly check the usage logs for any unusual activity or unauthorized access attempts.
  • Implement access controls: limit the number of users who have access to the secret and enforce strong authentication measures.
  • Use a secrets manager: utilize secret management tools like CyberArk or AWS Secrets Manager for enhanced security.

By adhering to the best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk associated with PubNub Publish and Subscription Key usage and improve the overall security of your PubNub Publish and Subscription Key implementations.

Exposing secrets on GitHub: What to do after leaking Credential and API keys

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PubNub Publish and Subscription Key leak remediation: what to do

What to do if you expose a secret: How to stay calm and respond to an incident [cheat sheet included]

How to check if PubNub Publish and Subscription Key was used by malicious actors

  • Review Access Logs: Check the access logs of your PubNub Publish and Subscription Key account for any unauthorized access or unusual activity. Pay particular attention to access from unfamiliar IP addresses (if you haven’t set up a specific allow list) or at odd hours.
  • Monitor Usage Patterns: Look for anomalies in the usage patterns, such as unexpected spikes in data access or transfer.
  • Check Active Connections and Operations: Review the list of active connections and recent operations on your database. Unusual or unauthorized operations might indicate malicious use.
  • Audit API Usage: If possible, audit the usage of your API key through any logging or monitoring services you have integrated with PubNub Publish and Subscription Key. This can give insights into any unauthorized use of your key.

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Steps to revoke the PubNub Publish and Subscription Key

Generate a new PubNub Publish and Subscription Key:

  • Log into your PubNub Publish and Subscription Key account.
  • Navigate to the API section and generate a new API key.

Update Services with the new key:

  • Replace the compromised key with the new key in all your services that use this API key.
  • Ensure all your applications and services are updated with the new key before deactivating the old one.

Deactivate the old PubNub Publish and Subscription Key:

  • Once the new key is in place and everything is functioning correctly, deactivate the old API key.
  • This can typically be done from the same section where you generated the new key.

Monitor after key rotation:

  • After deactivating the old key, monitor your systems closely to ensure that all services are running smoothly and that there are no unauthorized access attempts.

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How to understand which services will stop working

  • Inventory of services: keep an inventory of all services and applications that utilize your PubNub Publish and Subscription Key.
  • Communication and documentation: Ensure that your team is aware of which services are dependent on the key. Maintain documentation for quick reference.
  • Testing: before deactivating the old key, test your services with the new key in a staging environment. This helps in identifying any services that might face issues post rotation.
  • Fallback strategies: Have a fallback or emergency plan in case a critical service fails after the key rotation. This might include temporary measures or quick rollback procedures.

In summary, the remediation process involves identifying potential misuse, carefully rotating the key, and ensuring minimal disruption to services. Being proactive and having a well-documented process can greatly reduce the risks associated with a compromised API key.

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What about other secrets?

GitGuardian helps developers keep 350+ types of secrets out of source code. GitGuardian’s automated secrets detection and remediation solution secure every step of the development lifecycle, from code to cloud:

  • On developer workstations with git hooks (pre-commit and pre-push);
  • On code sharing platforms like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket;
  • In CI environments (Circle CI, Travis CI, Jenkins CI, GitHub Actions, and many more);
  • In Docker images.

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Environment Variables
Environment Variables
Environment Variables

charge

nullable string

For card errors, the ID of the failed charge.

payment_method_type

nullable string

If the error is specific to the type of payment method, the payment method type that had a problem. This field is only populated for invoice-related errors.

doc_url

nullable string

A URL to more information about the error code reported.

request_log_url

nullable string

A URL to the request log entry in your dashboard.

charge

nullable string

If the error is specific to the type of payment method, the payment method type that had a problem. This field is only populated for invoice-related errors.

Hide
Show
child attributes

type

enum

For some errors that could be handled programmatically, a short string indicating the error code reported.

charge

nullable string

If the error is specific to the type of payment method, the payment method type that had a problem. This field is only populated for invoice-related errors.

Hide
Show
child attributes

type

enum

For some errors that could be handled programmatically, a short string indicating the error code reported.

payment_intent

nullable object

The PaymentIntent object for errors returned on a request involving a PaymentIntent.

setup_intent

nullable object

The SetupIntent object for errors returned on a request involving a SetupIntent.

Hide
Show
child attributes

type

enum

For some errors that could be handled programmatically, a short string indicating the error code reported.

Hide
Show
child attributes

type

enum

For some errors that could be handled programmatically, a short string indicating the error code reported.

CLIENT LIBRARIES

$ gem install stripe
$ pip install stripe
$ composer require stripe/stripe-php
MAVEN
<dependency>
  <groupId>com.stripe</groupId>
  <artifactId>stripe-java</artifactId>
  <version>24.16.0</version>
</dependency>

GRADLE
compile "com.stripe:stripe-java:24.16.0"
$ npm install --save stripe
$ go get github.com/stripe/stripe-go/v76
$ nuget install Stripe.net
SHOW
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