Hiding a password in a python script (insecure obfuscation only)


I have got a python script which is creating an ODBC connection. The ODBC connection is generated with a connection string. In this connection string I have to include the username and password for this connection.

Is there an easy way to obscure this password in the file (just that nobody can read the password when I’m editing the file) ?

Asked By: bernhardrusch



There are several ROT13 utilities written in Python on the ‘Net — just google for them. ROT13 encode the string offline, copy it into the source, decode at point of transmission.

But this is really weak protection…

Answered By: Kevin Little

Base64 encoding is in the standard library and will do to stop shoulder surfers:

>>> import base64
>>>  print(base64.b64encode("password".encode("utf-8")))
>>> print(base64.b64decode("cGFzc3dvcmQ=").decode("utf-8"))
Answered By: Dave Webb

Your operating system probably provides facilities for encrypting data securely. For instance, on Windows there is DPAPI (data protection API). Why not ask the user for their credentials the first time you run then squirrel them away encrypted for subsequent runs?

Answered By: Jamie Eisenhart

How about importing the username and password from a file external to the script? That way even if someone got hold of the script, they wouldn’t automatically get the password.

Answered By: Douglas F Shearer

Douglas F Shearer’s is the generally approved solution in Unix when you need to specify a password for a remote login.
You add a –password-from-file option to specify the path and read plaintext from a file.
The file can then be in the user’s own area protected by the operating system.
It also allows different users to automatically pick up their own own file.

For passwords that the user of the script isn’t allowed to know – you can run the script with elavated permission and have the password file owned by that root/admin user.

Answered By: Martin Beckett

The best solution, assuming the username and password can’t be given at runtime by the user, is probably a separate source file containing only variable initialization for the username and password that is imported into your main code. This file would only need editing when the credentials change. Otherwise, if you’re only worried about shoulder surfers with average memories, base 64 encoding is probably the easiest solution. ROT13 is just too easy to decode manually, isn’t case sensitive and retains too much meaning in it’s encrypted state. Encode your password and user id outside the python script. Have he script decode at runtime for use.

Giving scripts credentials for automated tasks is always a risky proposal. Your script should have its own credentials and the account it uses should have no access other than exactly what is necessary. At least the password should be long and rather random.

Answered By: tduehr

This is a pretty common problem. Typically the best you can do is to either

A) create some kind of ceasar cipher function to encode/decode (just not rot13)

B) the preferred method is to use an encryption key, within reach of your program, encode/decode the password. In which you can use file protection to protect access the key.

Along those lines if your app runs as a service/daemon (like a webserver) you can put your key into a password protected keystore with the password input as part of the service startup. It’ll take an admin to restart your app, but you will have really good pretection for your configuration passwords.

Answered By: Patrick

base64 is the way to go for your simple needs. There is no need to import anything:

>>> 'your string'.encode('base64')
>>> _.decode('base64')
'your string'
Answered By: tzot

Place the configuration information in a encrypted config file. Query this info in your code using an key. Place this key in a separate file per environment, and don’t store it with your code.

Answered By: FlySwat

If you are working on a Unix system, take advantage of the netrc module in the standard Python library. It reads passwords from a separate text file (.netrc), which has the format decribed here.

Here is a small usage example:

import netrc

# Define which host in the .netrc file to use
HOST = 'mailcluster.loopia.se'

# Read from the .netrc file in your home directory
secrets = netrc.netrc()
username, account, password = secrets.authenticators( HOST )

print username, password
Answered By: jonasberg

More homegrown appraoch rather than converting authentication / passwords / username to encrytpted details. FTPLIB is just the example.
pass.csv” is the csv file name

Save password in CSV like below :



(With no column heading)

Reading the CSV and saving it to a list.

Using List elelments as authetntication details.

Full code.

import os
import ftplib
import csv 
cred_detail = []
os.chdir("Folder where the csv file is stored")
for row in csv.reader(open("pass.csv","rb")):       
ftp = ftplib.FTP('server_name',cred_detail[0][0],cred_detail[1][0])
Answered By: LonelySoul

Here is a simple method:

  1. Create a python module – let’s call it peekaboo.py.
  2. In peekaboo.py, include both the password and any code needing that password
  3. Create a compiled version – peekaboo.pyc – by importing this module (via python commandline, etc…).
  4. Now, delete peekaboo.py.
  5. You can now happily import peekaboo relying only on peekaboo.pyc. Since peekaboo.pyc is byte compiled it is not readable to the casual user.

This should be a bit more secure than base64 decoding – although it is vulnerable to a py_to_pyc decompiler.

Answered By: manyPartsAreEdible

Do you know pit?

https://pypi.python.org/pypi/pit (py2 only (version 0.3))

https://github.com/yoshiori/pit (it will work on py3 (current version 0.4))


from pit import Pit

config = Pit.get('section-name', {'require': {
    'username': 'DEFAULT STRING',
    'password': 'DEFAULT STRING',


$ python test.py
{'password': 'my-password', 'username': 'my-name'}


  password: my-password
  username: my-name
Answered By: TakesxiSximada

If running on Windows, you could consider using win32crypt library. It allows storage and retrieval of protected data (keys, passwords) by the user that is running the script, thus passwords are never stored in clear text or obfuscated format in your code. I am not sure if there is an equivalent implementation for other platforms, so with the strict use of win32crypt your code is not portable.

I believe the module can be obtained here: http://timgolden.me.uk/pywin32-docs/win32crypt.html

Answered By: VilleLipponen

This doesn’t precisely answer your question, but it’s related. I was going to add as a comment but wasn’t allowed.
I’ve been dealing with this same issue, and we have decided to expose the script to the users using Jenkins. This allows us to store the db credentials in a separate file that is encrypted and secured on a server and not accessible to non-admins.
It also allows us a bit of a shortcut to creating a UI, and throttling execution.

Answered By: Joe Hayes

for python3 obfuscation using base64 is done differently:

import base64

which results in


note the informal string representation, the actual string is in quotes

and decoding back to the original string


to use this result where string objects are required the bytes object can be translated

repr = base64.b64decode(b'UGFzc3dvcmRTdHJpbmdBc1N0cmVhbU9mQnl0ZXM=')
secret = repr.decode('utf-8')

for more information on how python3 handles bytes (and strings accordingly) please see the official documentation.

Answered By: jitter

You could also consider the possibility of storing the password outside the script, and supplying it at runtime

e.g. fred.py

import os
username = 'fred'
password = os.environ.get('PASSWORD', '')
print(username, password)

which can be run like

$ PASSWORD=password123 python fred.py
fred password123

Extra layers of “security through obscurity” can be achieved by using base64 (as suggested above), using less obvious names in the code and further distancing the actual password from the code.

If the code is in a repository, it is often useful to store secrets outside it, so one could add this to ~/.bashrc (or to a vault, or a launch script, …)

export SURNAME=cGFzc3dvcmQxMjM=

and change fred.py to

import os
import base64
name = 'fred'
surname = base64.b64decode(os.environ.get('SURNAME', '')).decode('utf-8')
print(name, surname)

then re-login and

$ python fred.py
fred password123
Answered By: jalanb

Here is my snippet for such thing. You basically import or copy the function to your code. getCredentials will create the encrypted file if it does not exist and return a dictionaty, and updateCredential will update.

import os

def getCredentials():
    import base64


    if not os.path.exists(directory):

        with open(directory+'\Credentials.txt', 'r') as file:
            cred = file.read()
        print('I could not file the credentials file. nSo I dont keep asking you for your email and password everytime you run me, I will be saving an encrypted file at {}.n'.format(directory))

        lanid = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   LanID: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')  
        email = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   eMail: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')
        password = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   PassW: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')
        cred = lanid+splitter+email+splitter+password
        with open(directory+'\Credentials.txt','w+') as file:

    return {'lanid':base64.b64decode(bytes(cred.split(splitter)[0], encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8'),
            'email':base64.b64decode(bytes(cred.split(splitter)[1], encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8'),
            'password':base64.b64decode(bytes(cred.split(splitter)[2], encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')}

def updateCredentials():
    import base64


    if not os.path.exists(directory):

    print('I will be saving an encrypted file at {}.n'.format(directory))

    lanid = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   LanID: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')  
    email = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   eMail: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')
    password = base64.b64encode(bytes(input('   PassW: '), encoding='utf-8')).decode('utf-8')
    cred = lanid+splitter+email+splitter+password
    with open(directory+'\Credentials.txt','w+') as file:

cred = getCredentials()

Answered By: Mahmoud Alhyari

Why not have a simple xor?


  • looks like binary data
  • noone can read it without knowing the key (even if it’s a single char)

I get to the point where I recognize simple b64 strings for common words and rot13 as well. Xor would make it much harder.

Answered By: S. L.
import base64
Answered By: pradyot

A way that I have done this is as follows:

At the python shell:

>>> from cryptography.fernet import Fernet
>>> key = Fernet.generate_key()
>>> print(key)
>>> cipher = Fernet(key)
>>> password = "thepassword".encode('utf-8')
>>> token = cipher.encrypt(password)
>>> print(token)

Then, create a module with the following code:

from cryptography.fernet import Fernet

# you store the key and the token
key = b'B8XBLJDiroM3N2nCBuUlzPL06AmfV4XkPJ5OKsPZbC4='
token = b'gAAAAABe_TUP82q1zMR9SZw1LpawRLHjgNLdUOmW31RApwASzeo4qWSZ52ZBYpSrb1kUeXNFoX0tyhe7kWuudNs2Iy7vUwaY7Q=='

# create a cipher and decrypt when you need your password
cipher = Fernet(key)

mypassword = cipher.decrypt(token).decode('utf-8')

Once you’ve done this, you can either import mypassword directly or you can import the token and cipher to decrypt as needed.

Obviously, there are some shortcomings to this approach. If someone has both the token and the key (as they would if they have the script), they can decrypt easily. However it does obfuscate, and if you compile the code (with something like Nuitka) at least your password won’t appear as plain text in a hex editor.

Answered By: Dr_Z2A
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