Keep your OpenAI Keys Safe

June 11, 2023

Keep your OpenAI Keys Safe

AI projects have become increasingly popular in recent months, with tools such as ChatGPT plugins and rapid Replit demos being utilized frequently by coders. These tools enhance the functionality of their projects, resulting in enhanced user experience. However, with this rise in popularity, comes a dark side: API key exposure.

The Risk of Exposing API Keys

API keys are sensitive, privileged pieces of information that should be protected at all costs. They are often utilized for authentication and authorization, so exposing them can leave your project's or users' sensitive information at risk. This is precisely what is happening on Reddit, where someone is specifically scraping AI projects for exposed API keys and using them for malicious purposes.

Protecting Your API Keys

As coders, it is essential to be cognizant of how to protect these API keys from being exposed. One best practice is to avoid hard-coding API keys into projects, as doing so puts them at risk of being exposed if anyone gains access to the code. Instead, it is better to hide the keys in a configuration file or environment variable. This practice ensures that your sensitive information is not easily accessible to malicious users.

Using Temporary API Keys

For users, it is essential to use temporary API keys when trying out new tools. Once you have completed your exploration, be sure to remove these keys from your code. This way, if the API key is accidentally exposed, it will not cause any harm as it is a temporary key. Temporary keys are easy to revoke.

Tracking Usage with AI Spend

To further help protect API keys, users can utilize tracking tools such as AI Spend for passive monitoring of OpenAI costs. These tracking tools monitor your API expenses and provide a clear overview of how much you are spending, and how often. This way, you have a better idea of when you need to revoke temporary keys or adjust your API usage to avoid excessive costs.


In conclusion, while AI projects are excellent for enhancing user experience, there are potential risks involved in using them. By following the best practices of hiding API keys and utilizing temporary keys, both coders and users can mitigate the risks involved in project development. By also using tracking tools, you can observe your API key usage, identify where improvements need to be made, and rest assured that your OpenAI costs are being monitored. By being diligent and implementing best practices, we can ensure our projects and users remain safe from malicious threats.