Airflow Configuration

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Configuration File

Apache Airflow generates a config file in all the airflow machines called airflow.cfg in the home of the airflow user. This config file contains configuration information and might contain interesting and sensitive information.

There are two ways to access this file: By compromising some airflow machine, or accessing the web console.

Note that the values inside the config file might not be the ones used, as you can overwrite them setting env variables such as AIRFLOW__WEBSERVER__EXPOSE_CONFIG: 'true'.

If you have access to the config file in the web server, you can check the real running configuration in the same page the config is displayed. If you have access to some machine inside the airflow env, check the environment.

Some interesting values to check when reading the config file:


  • access_control_allow_headers: This indicates the allowed headers for CORS

  • access_control_allow_methods: This indicates the allowed methods for CORS

  • access_control_allow_origins: This indicates the allowed origins for CORS

  • auth_backend: According to the docs a few options can be in place to configure who can access to the API:

    • airflow.api.auth.backend.deny_all: By default nobody can access the API

    • airflow.api.auth.backend.default: Everyone can access it without authentication

    • airflow.api.auth.backend.kerberos_auth: To configure kerberos authentication

    • airflow.api.auth.backend.basic_auth: For basic authentication

    • airflow.composer.api.backend.composer_auth: Uses composers authentication (GCP) (from here).

      • composer_auth_user_registration_role: This indicates the role the composer user will get inside airflow (Op by default).

    • You can also create you own authentication method with python.

  • google_key_path: Path to the GCP service account key


  • password: Atlas password

  • username: Atlas username


  • flower_basic_auth : Credentials (user1:password1,user2:password2)

  • result_backend: Postgres url which may contain credentials.

  • ssl_cacert: Path to the cacert

  • ssl_cert: Path to the cert

  • ssl_key: Path to the key


  • dag_discovery_safe_mode: Enabled by default. When discovering DAGs, ignore any files that don’t contain the strings DAG and airflow.

  • fernet_key: Key to store encrypted variables (symmetric)

  • hide_sensitive_var_conn_fields: Enabled by default, hide sensitive info of connections.

  • security: What security module to use (for example kerberos)


  • tls_ca: Path to ca

  • tls_cert: Part to the cert

  • tls_key: Part to the tls key


  • ccache: Path to ccache file

  • forwardable: Enabled by default


  • google_key_path: Path to GCP JSON creds.


  • backend: Full class name of secrets backend to enable

  • backend_kwargs: The backend_kwargs param is loaded into a dictionary and passed to init of secrets backend class.


  • smtp_password: SMTP password

  • smtp_user: SMTP user


  • cookie_samesite: By default it's Lax, so it's already the weakest possible value

  • cookie_secure: Set secure flag on the the session cookie

  • expose_config: By default is False, if true, the config can be read from the web console

  • expose_stacktrace: By default it's True, it will show python tracebacks (potentially useful for an attacker)

  • secret_key: This is the key used by flask to sign the cookies (if you have this you can impersonate any user in Airflow)

  • web_server_ssl_cert: Path to the SSL cert

  • web_server_ssl_key: Path to the SSL Key

  • x_frame_enabled: Default is True, so by default clickjacking isn't possible

Web Authentication

By default web authentication is specified in the file and is configured as


Which means that the authentication is checked against the database. However, other configurations are possible like


To leave the authentication to third party services.

However, there is also an option to allow anonymous users access, setting the following parameter to the desired role:

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