Securing Redis with Istio TLS originationMon 28 December 2020 | Last updated on Tue 06 December 2022
Istio is daunting and not all use cases are well documented. The public docs focus mostly on using the egress gateway for TLS orignation. The use case of using the sidecar for TLS origination with a database isn't documented well. This blog post hopes to solve that.
So you've actually done security well and are using an external Redis provider that only allows TLS to talk to it. You could simply configure each of your applications to use TLS from the application pod or you can use Istio to handle the TLS part. This blog is focused on how to use Istio to do TLS origination for Redis (TCP) using the sidecar instead of the egress gateway.
TLS origination occurs when an Istio proxy (sidecar or egress gateway) is configured to accept unencrypted internal TCP connections, encrypt the requests, and then forward them to servers that are secured using simple or mutual TLS. This is the opposite of TLS termination where an ingress proxy accepts incoming TLS connections, decrypts the TLS, and passes unencrypted requests on to internal mesh services.
The blog post contains the following sections:
- Creating the Redis instance with Aiven or Redislabs
- Creating the Istio resources
- Validating that TLS origination worked
1. Creating the Redis instance with Aiven or Redislabs
Aiven is a managed database provider and provides a managed Redis service. The Redis service allows you to require TLS which is what will be used in this blog post. You can use any TLS Redis service instead of Aiven.
Go to aiven.io/redis and follow the steps to create a Redis service using the 30 day free trial. Aiven was really convenient for me. Redislabs the creators of Redis provide similar service with a free 30MB Redis instance. You might want to support the creators of Redis by using Redislabs.
In this blog post the variables will be used:
export REDIS_HOST=redis-1425a1d9-google-bc39.aivencloud.com export REDIS_PORT=16222
You will need to set these variables to your environment specifics.
2. Creating the Istio resources
In this section, you will create the following Istio resources: - DestinationRule: To configure how outgoing connections to Redis should be handled. For example, this is how we configure the TLS settings. - ServiceEntry: Such that Istio knows about the external Redis service
Create the Redis namespace which is used for testing:
kubectl create ns redis # If you use kubectx kubens redis
Create the following ServiceEntry:
cat <<EOF | kubectl apply --namespace=redis -f - apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1beta1 kind: ServiceEntry metadata: name: external-aiven-redis spec: hosts: - $REDIS_HOST location: MESH_EXTERNAL resolution: DNS ports: - number: $REDIS_PORT name: tcp-redis protocol: TCP EOF
Create the DestinationRule:
cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f - apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1beta1 kind: DestinationRule metadata: name: external-aiven-redis namespace: redis spec: host: $REDIS_HOST trafficPolicy: tls: mode: SIMPLE caCertificates: /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt EOF
Note that Istio has a security issue that if you do not specify the caCertificates that it will not validate the cert at all. So in the destination rule we simply point it to the system certs. For more info on this issue see #25652.
The destination rule tells Istio that TLS should be used and mode simple means that this is using standard TLS instead of mutual TLS.
That was all that's needed from the Istio side.
3. Validating that TLS origination worked
Create a pod that has redis-client installed:
cat << EOF | kubectl apply -f - apiVersion: apps/v1 kind: Deployment metadata: name: redis-client namespace: redis labels: app: redis-client spec: replicas: 1 selector: matchLabels: app: redis-client template: metadata: labels: app: redis-client annotations: sidecar.istio.io/logLevel: debug sidecar.istio.io/inject: "true" spec: containers: - image: redis name: redis-client command: [ "/bin/bash", "-c", "--" ] args: [ "while true; do sleep 30; done;" ] EOF
Wait for the pods to come up....
Get a shell to the redis-client container:
kubectl exec -ti deploy/redis-client -c redis-client -- bash redis-cli -h REPLACE_WITH_REDIS_HOST -p REPLACE_WITH_REDIS_PORT -a REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD set "hello" "world" get "hello"
The above should return "world". The redis client is using standard TCP while the
Istio sidecar upgraded the connection to TLS in the background.
If you need even more validation, go and create another deployment but this time
set the annotation to
sidecar.istio.io/inject: "false". That will prevent Istio
from injecting a sidecar. After you do that you will notice that you can not
connect to Redis anymore if your Redis is enforcing TLS.
You can also Check the logs of the istio-proxy to see that Istio is indeed making the TLS connections.
kubectl logs deploy/redis-client -c istio-proxy
In my case the following logs could be seen in the Istio proxy logs:
2020-12-28T21:57:43.055354Z debug envoy connection [C486] write flush complete 2020-12-28T21:57:43.058429Z debug envoy connection [C486] remote early close 2020-12-28T21:57:43.058465Z debug envoy connection [C486] closing socket: 0 2020-12-28T21:57:43.058534Z debug envoy conn_handler [C486] adding to cleanup list 2020-12-28T21:57:43.187286Z debug envoy upstream DNS refresh rate reset for zipkin.istio-system, (failure) refresh rate 5000 ms 2020-12-28T21:57:43.531497Z debug envoy upstream transport socket match, socket default selected for host with address 188.8.131.52: 16222 2020-12-28T21:57:43.531562Z debug envoy upstream DNS refresh rate reset for redis-1425a1d9-google-bc39.aivencloud.com, refresh rate 14 000 ms 2020-12-28T21:57:45.050182Z debug envoy conn_handler [C487] new connection 2020-12-28T21:57:45.050333Z debug envoy http [C487] new stream 2020-12-28T21:57:45.050424Z debug envoy http [C487][S11853156146631931010] request headers complete (end_stream=true):
You were able to use Istio to do TLS originiation using the sidecar instead of using the egress gateway by just using a DestinationRule and a ServiceEntry. You also validated that TLS origination is working as expected.