Sensitive data in stacktrace

Let’s say we have a module like

defmodule Foo do
  @salt Application.get_env(:foo, :salt, [])
  def hash(password) do
    try do
      {:ok, md5(password, @salt)}
      e -> {:error, {e, __STACKTRACE__}}
  defp md5(password, salt = [_ | _]) do
    Enum.reduce(salt, password, &:erlang.md5(&2<>&1))

And when we call &hash/1 function it returns error

iex(19)> Foo.hash "123"
    args: nil,
    arity: 2,
    clauses: nil,
    function: :md5,
    kind: nil,
    module: Foo
    {Foo, :md5, ["123", []], [file: 'iex', line: 27]},
    {Foo, :hash, 1, [file: 'iex', line: 22]},
    {:erl_eval, :do_apply, 6, [file: 'erl_eval.erl', line: 677]},
    {:elixir, :eval_forms, 4, [file: 'src/elixir.erl', line: 265]},
    {IEx.Evaluator, :handle_eval, 5, [file: 'lib/iex/evaluator.ex', line: 249]},
    {IEx.Evaluator, :do_eval, 3, [file: 'lib/iex/evaluator.ex', line: 229]},
    {IEx.Evaluator, :eval, 3, [file: 'lib/iex/evaluator.ex', line: 207]},
    {IEx.Evaluator, :loop, 1, [file: 'lib/iex/evaluator.ex', line: 94]}

And we want to put this stacktrace to Logger (let’s say for easier debugging)
But we see, what stacktrace can contain sensitive data (in example is password = “123”)
Of course we can remove all arguments from stacktrace manually, but in most cases arguments are useful
Maybe there is already implemented solution to remove some arguments of some functions from stacktrace by marking them in module definition somehow?

It would be nice to say somehow that n-th argument of foo function in module Bar is sensitive and should be excluded from stacktrace

1 Like

There is ‘Custom struct inspections’ that was just released with Elixir 1.8:

Maybe return just the tail of the stack trace and at an upper-level inspect your struct with the returned stack trace. This would obfuscate the password field or whatever you set to hide from your struct.


Here is what Plug.Crypto does regarding the stacktrace:

1 Like

@sfusato’s response is very good, though it seems that in some instances you’d want to expressly name the excluded struct parameters, rather than list all of the unexcluded ones.

The Inspect protocol actually allows you to name the struct attributes that are excluded from inspection, which is cleaner for circumstances in which most of a struct’s attributes are not private or secret. Here’s an example:

defmodule CustomRequest do
  @derive {Inspect, except: [:password]}
  defstruct [:name, :email, :password]

If you had a myriad of secret attributes within a single struct though, using only is probably cleaner and safer, as adding additional secret attributes would not require you to also add them for exclusion:

defmodule CustomRequest do
  @derive {Inspect, only: [:name, :email]}
  defstruct [

Please note that the @derive call does have to be declared above the defstruct keyword as indicated in the Inspect docs, as shown above.