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Configure TLS/SSL in Postgres

KubeDB provides support for TLS/SSL encryption with SSLMode (allow, prefer, require, verify-ca, verify-full) for Postgres. This tutorial will show you how to use KubeDB to deploy a Postgres database with TLS/SSL configuration.

Before You Begin

  • At first, you need to have a Kubernetes cluster, and the kubectl command-line tool must be configured to communicate with your cluster. If you do not already have a cluster, you can create one by using kind.

  • Install cert-manger v1.4.0 or later to your cluster to manage your SSL/TLS certificates.

  • Install KubeDB community and enterprise operator in your cluster following the steps here.

  • To keep things isolated, this tutorial uses a separate namespace called demo throughout this tutorial.

    $ kubectl create ns demo
    namespace/demo created

Note: YAML files used in this tutorial are stored in docs/guides/postgres/tls/configure/yamls folder in GitHub repository kubedb/docs.

Deploy Postgres database with TLS/SSL configuration

As pre-requisite, at first, we are going to create an Issuer/ClusterIssuer. This Issuer/ClusterIssuer is used to create certificates. Then we are going to deploy a Postgres with TLS/SSL configuration.

Create Issuer/ClusterIssuer

Now, we are going to create an example Issuer that will be used throughout the duration of this tutorial. Alternatively, you can follow this cert-manager tutorial to create your own Issuer. By following the below steps, we are going to create our desired issuer,

  • Start off by generating our ca-certificates using openssl,
openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout ./ca.key -out ./ca.crt -subj "/CN=postgres/O=kubedb"
  • create a secret using the certificate files we have just generated,
$ kubectl create secret tls postgres-ca --cert=ca.crt  --key=ca.key --namespace=demo 
secret/postgres-ca created

Now, we are going to create an Issuer using the postgres-ca secret that contains the ca-certificate we have just created. Below is the YAML of the Issuer cr that we are going to create,

kind: Issuer
 name: postgres-ca-issuer
 namespace: demo
   secretName: postgres-ca

Let’s create the Issuer cr we have shown above,

kubectl apply -f created

Deploy Postgres cluster with TLS/SSL configuration

Here, our issuer postgres-ca-issuer is ready to deploy a Postgres Cluster with TLS/SSL configuration. Below is the YAML for Postgres Cluster that we are going to create,

kind: Postgres
  name: demo-pg
  namespace: demo
  version: "13.2"
  replicas: 3
  standbyMode: Hot
  sslMode: verify-full
  storageType: Durable
      name: postgres-ca-issuer
      kind: Issuer
    - alias: server
        - kubedb:server
      - localhost
      - ""
    storageClassName: "standard"
    - ReadWriteOnce
        storage: 1Gi
  terminationPolicy: WipeOut


  • spec.sslMode specifies the SSL/TLS client connection to the server is required.

  • spec.tls.issuerRef refers to the postgres-ca-issuer issuer.

  • spec.tls.certificates gives you a lot of options to configure so that the certificate will be renewed and kept up to date. You can found more details from here

Deploy Postgres Cluster:

Let’s create the Postgres cr we have shown above,

$ kubectl apply -f created

Wait for the database to be ready:

Now, watch Postgres is going to Running state and also watch StatefulSet and its pod is created and going to Running state,

$  watch kubectl get postgres -n demo pg

Every 2.0s: kubectl get postgres --all-namespaces                       ac-emon: Fri Dec  3 15:14:11 2021

demo        pg     13.2      Ready    62s

$ watch -n 3 kubectl get sts -n demo pg
Every 2.0s: kubectl get sts -n demo pg                                  ac-emon: Fri Dec  3 15:15:41 2021

pg     3/3     2m30s

$  watch -n 3 kubectl get pod -n demo -l,
Every 3.0s: kubectl get pod -n demo -l  ac-emon: Fri Dec  3 15:17:10 2021

pg-0   2/2     Running   0          3m59s
pg-1   2/2     Running   0          3m54s
pg-2   2/2     Running   0          3m49s

Verify tls-secrets created successfully:

If everything goes well, you can see that our tls-secrets will be created which contains server, client, exporter certificate. Server tls-secret will be used for server configuration and client tls-secret will be used for a secure connection.

All tls-secret are created by KubeDB enterprise operator. Default tls-secret name formed as {postgres-object-name}-{cert-alias}-cert.

Let’s check if the tls-secrets have been created properly,

$ kubectl get secrets -n demo | grep pg
pg-auth                        2      4m41s
pg-client-cert                        3      4m40s
pg-metrics-exporter-cert                     3      4m40s
pg-server-cert                        3      4m41s
pg-token-xvk9p      3      4m41s

Verify Postgres Cluster configured with TLS/SSL:

Now, we are going to connect to the database to verify that Postgres server has configured with TLS/SSL encryption.

Let’s exec into the pod to verify TLS/SSL configuration,

$ kubectl exec -it -n  demo  pg-0 -- bash
bash-5.1$ ls /tls/certs
client    exporter  server

bash-5.1$ ls /tls/certs/server
ca.crt      server.crt  server.key

bash-5.1$ psql
psql (13.2)
Type "help" for help.

postgres=# SELECT * FROM pg_stat_ssl;
 pid  | ssl | version |         cipher         | bits | compression | client_dn | client_serial | issuer_dn 
  129 | t   | TLSv1.3 | TLS_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 |  256 | f           |           |               | 
  130 | t   | TLSv1.3 | TLS_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 |  256 | f           |           |               | 
 2175 | f   |         |                        |      |             |           |               | 
(3 rows)

postgres=# exit

bash-5.1$ cat /var/pv/data/postgresql.conf  | grep ssl
ssl =on
ssl_cert_file ='/tls/certs/server/server.crt'
ssl_key_file ='/tls/certs/server/server.key'
ssl_ca_file ='/tls/certs/server/ca.crt'
primary_conninfo = 'application_name=pg-0 host=pg user=postgres password=0WpDlAbHsrNs-7hp sslmode=verify-full sslrootcert=/tls/certs/client/ca.crt'
#ssl = off
#ssl_ca_file = ''
#ssl_cert_file = 'server.crt'
#ssl_crl_file = ''
#ssl_key_file = 'server.key'
#ssl_ciphers = 'HIGH:MEDIUM:+3DES:!aNULL' # allowed SSL ciphers
#ssl_prefer_server_ciphers = on
#ssl_ecdh_curve = 'prime256v1'
#ssl_min_protocol_version = 'TLSv1.2'
#ssl_max_protocol_version = ''
#ssl_dh_params_file = ''
#ssl_passphrase_command = ''
#ssl_passphrase_command_supports_reload = off

The above output shows that the Postgres server is configured with TLS/SSL configuration and in /var/pv/data/postgresql.conf you can see that ssl= on. You can also see that the .crt and .key files are stored in the /tls/certs/ directory for client and server.

Verify secure connection for SSL required user:

Now, you can create an SSL required user that will be used to connect to the database with a secure connection.

Let’s connect to the database server with a secure connection,

# creating SSL required user
$ kubectl exec -it -n  demo  pg-0 -- bash

bash-5.1$ psql -d "user=postgres password=$POSTGRES_PASSWORD host=pg port=5432 connect_timeout=15 dbname=postgres sslmode=verify-full sslrootcert=/tls/certs/client/ca.crt"
psql (13.2)
SSL connection (protocol: TLSv1.3, cipher: TLS_AES_256_GCM_SHA384, bits: 256, compression: off)
Type "help" for help.

postgres=# exit

bash-5.1$ psql -d "user=postgres password=$POSTGRES_PASSWORD host=pg port=5432 connect_timeout=15 dbname=postgres sslmode=verify-full"
psql: error: root certificate file "/var/lib/postgresql/.postgresql/root.crt" does not exist
Either provide the file or change sslmode to disable server certificate verification.

From the above output, you can see that only using ca certificate we can access the database securely, otherwise, it ask for the ca verification. Our client certificate is stored in ls /tls/certs/client directory.

Cleaning up

To clean up the Kubernetes resources created by this tutorial, run:

kubectl delete pg -n demo  pg
kubectl delete ns demo

Next Steps