Istio Vault CA Integration

This task shows you how to integrate a Vault Certificate Authority (CA) with Istio to issue certificates for workloads in the mesh. This task includes a demo of Istio mutual TLS using certificates issued by a Vault CA.

Before you begin

  • Create a new Kubernetes cluster to run the example in this tutorial.

Certificate request flow

At high level, an Istio proxy (i.e., Envoy) requests a certificate from Node Agent through SDS. Node Agent sends a CSR (Certificate Signing Request), with the Kubernetes service account token of the Istio proxy attached, to Vault CA. Vault CA authenticates and authorizes the CSR based on the Kubernetes service account token and returns the signed certificate to Node Agent, which returns the signed certificate to the Istio proxy.

Install Istio with mutual TLS and SDS enabled

  1. Install Istio with mutual TLS and SDS enabled using Helm and Node Agent sending certificate signing requests to a testing Vault CA:

    $ kubectl create clusterrolebinding cluster-admin-binding --clusterrole=cluster-admin --user="$(gcloud config get-value core/account)"
    $ cat install/kubernetes/namespace.yaml > istio-auth.yaml
    $ cat install/kubernetes/helm/istio-init/files/crd-* >> istio-auth.yaml
    $ helm template \
        --name=istio \
        --namespace=istio-system \
        --set global.mtls.enabled=true \
        --set global.proxy.excludeIPRanges="34.83.129.211/32" \
        --values install/kubernetes/helm/istio/example-values/values-istio-example-sds-vault.yaml \
        install/kubernetes/helm/istio >> istio-auth.yaml
    $ kubectl create -f istio-auth.yaml
    

The testing Vault server used in this tutorial has the IP address 34.83.129.211. The configuration global.proxy.excludeIPRanges="34.83.129.211/32" whitelists the IP address of the testing Vault server, so that Envoy will not intercept the traffic from Node Agent to Vault.

The yaml file values-istio-example-sds-vault.yaml contains the configuration that enables SDS (secret discovery service) in Istio. The Vault CA related configuration is set as environmental variables:

env:
- name: CA_ADDR
  value: "https://34.83.129.211:8200"
- name: CA_PROVIDER
  value: "VaultCA"
- name: "VAULT_ADDR"
  value: "https://34.83.129.211:8200"
- name: "VAULT_AUTH_PATH"
  value: "auth/kubernetes/login"
- name: "VAULT_ROLE"
  value: "istio-cert"
- name: "VAULT_SIGN_CSR_PATH"
  value: "istio_ca/sign/istio-pki-role"

Deploy workloads for testing

This section deploys the httpbin and sleep workloads for testing. When the sidecar of a testing workload requests a certificate through SDS, Node Agent will send certificate signing requests to Vault.

  1. Generate the deployments for the httpbin and sleep backends:

    ZipZip
    $ istioctl kube-inject -f @samples/httpbin/httpbin-vault.yaml@ > httpbin-injected.yaml
    $ istioctl kube-inject -f @samples/sleep/sleep-vault.yaml@ > sleep-injected.yaml
    
  2. Create the vault-citadel-sa service account for the Vault CA:

    $ kubectl create serviceaccount vault-citadel-sa
    
  3. Since the Vault CA requires the authentication and authorization of Kubernetes service accounts, you must edit the vault-citadel-sa service account to use the example JWT configured on the testing Vault CA. To learn more about configuring a Vault CA for Kubernetes authentication and authorization, visit the Vault Kubernetes auth method reference documentation.

    $ export SA_SECRET_NAME=$(kubectl get serviceaccount vault-citadel-sa -o=jsonpath='{.secrets[0].name}')
    $ kubectl patch secret ${SA_SECRET_NAME} -p='{"data":{"token": "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"}}'
    
  4. Deploy the httpbin and sleep backends:

    $ kubectl apply -f httpbin-injected.yaml
    $ kubectl apply -f sleep-injected.yaml
    

Istio mutual TLS with Vault CA integration

This section demos the use of mutual TLS with the Vault CA integration. In the previous steps, you enabled mutual TLS for the Istio mesh and the httpbin and sleep workloads. These workloads receive certificates from a testing Vault CA. When you send a curl request from the sleep workload to the httpbin workload, the request goes through a mutual TLS protected channel constructed with the certificates the Vault CA issued.

  1. Send a curl request from the sleep workload to the httpbin workload. The request succeeds with a 200 response code if it goes through the mutual TLS protected channel constructed with the certificates issued by the Vault CA.

    $ kubectl exec -it $(kubectl get pod -l app=sleep -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}') -c sleep -- curl -s -o /dev/null -w "%{http_code}" httpbin:8000/headers
    200
    
  2. To verify that not all requests are successful, send a curl request from the sleep Envoy sidecar to the httpbin workload. The request fails because the request from the sidecar to the httpbin workload did not use mutual TLS.

    $ kubectl exec -it $(kubectl get pod -l app=sleep -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}') -c istio-proxy -- curl -s -o /dev/null -w "%{http_code}" httpbin:8000/headers
    000command terminated with exit code 56
    

Congratulations! You successfully integrated a Vault CA with Istio to use mutual TLS between workloads using the certificates the Vault CA issued.

Cleanup

After completing this tutorial, you may delete the testing cluster created at the beginning of this tutorial.