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Version: 1.0.0

Configuring Mutual Authentication via ApisixTls

In this practice, we will use mTLS to protect our exposed ingress APIs.

To learn more about mTLS, please refer to Mutual authentication


  • an available Kubernetes cluster
  • an available APISIX and APISIX Ingress Controller installation

In this guide, we assume that your APISIX is installed in the apisix namespace and ssl is enabled, which is not enabled by default in the Helm Chart. To enable it, you need to set gateway.tls.enabled=true during installation.

Assuming the SSL port is 9443.

Deploy httpbin service#

We use kennethreitz/httpbin as the service image, See its overview page for details.

Deploy it to the default namespace:

kubectl run httpbin --image kennethreitz/httpbin --port 80
kubectl expose pod httpbin --port 80

Route the traffic#

Since SSL is not configured in ApisixRoute, we can use the config similar to the one in practice Proxy the httpbin service.

# route.yaml
kind: ApisixRoute
name: httpserver-route
- name: httpbin
- mtls.httpbin.local
- "/*"
serviceName: httpbin
servicePort: 80

Please remember the host field is mtls.httpbin.local. It will be the domain we are going to use.

Test it:

kubectl -n apisix exec -it <APISIX_POD_NAME> -- curl "" -H "Host: mtls.httpbin.local"

It should output:

"origin": ""


Before configuring SSL, we must have certificates. Certificates often authorized by certificate provider, which also known as Certification Authority (CA).

You can use OpenSSL to generate self-signed certificates for testing purposes. Some pre-generated certificates for this guide are here.

  • ca.pem: The root CA.
  • server.pem and server.key: Server certificate used to enable SSL (https). Contains correct subjectAltName matches domain mtls.httpbin.local.
  • user.pem and user.key: Client certificate.

To verify them, use commands below:

openssl verify -CAfile ./ca.pem ./server.pem
openssl verify -CAfile ./ca.pem ./user.pem

Protect the route using SSL#

In APISIX Ingress Controller, we use ApisixTls resource to protect our routes.

ApisixTls requires a secret which field cert and key contains the certificate and private key.

A secret yaml containing the certificate mentioned above is here. In this guide, we use this as an example.

kubectl apply -f ./mtls/server-secret.yaml -n default

The secret name is server-secret, we created it in the default namespace. We will reference this secret in ApisixTls.

# tls.yaml
kind: ApisixTls
name: sample-tls
- mtls.httpbin.local
name: server-secret
namespace: default

The secret field contains the secret reference.

Please note that the hosts field matches our domain mtls.httpbin.local.

Apply this yaml, APISIX Ingress Controller will use our certificate to protect the route. Let's test it.

kubectl -n apisix exec -it <APISIX_POD_NAME> -- curl --resolve 'mtls.httpbin.local:9443:' "https://mtls.httpbin.local:9443/ip" -k

Some major changes here:

  • Use --resolve parameter to resolve our domain.
    • No Host header set explicit.
  • We are using https and SSL port 9443.
  • Parameter -k to allow insecure connections when using SSL. Because our self-signed certificate is not trusted.

Without the domain mtls.httpbin.local, the request won't succeed.

You can add parameter -v to log the handshake process.

Now, we configured SSL successfully.

Mutual Authentication#

Like server-secret, we will create a client-ca-secret to store the CA that verify the certificate client presents.

kubectl apply -f ./mtls/client-ca-secret.yaml -n default

Then, change our ApisixTls and apply it:

# mtls.yaml
kind: ApisixTls
name: sample-tls
- mtls.httpbin.local
name: server-secret
namespace: default
name: client-ca-secret
namespace: default
depth: 10

The client field references the secret, depth indicates the max certificate chain length.

Let's try to connect the route without any chanegs:

kubectl -n apisix exec -it <APISIX_POD_NAME> -- curl --resolve 'mtls.httpbin.local:9443:' "https://mtls.httpbin.local:9443/ip" -k

If everything works properly, it will return a 400 Bad Request.

From APISIX access log, we could find logs like this:

2021/05/27 17:20:54 [error] 43#43: *106132 [lua] init.lua:293: http_access_phase(): client certificate was not present, client:, server: _, request: "GET /ip HTTP/2.0", host: "mtls.httpbin.local:9443" - - [27/May/2021:17:20:54 +0000] mtls.httpbin.local:9443 "GET /ip HTTP/2.0" 400 154 0.000 "-" "curl/7.76.1" - - - "http://mtls.httpbin.local:9443"

That means our mutual authentication has been enabled successfully.

Now, we need to transfer our client cert to the APISIX container to verify the mTLS functionality.

# Transfer client certificate
kubectl -n apisix cp ./user.key <APISIX_POD_NAME>:/tmp/user.key
kubectl -n apisix cp ./user.pem <APISIX_POD_NAME>:/tmp/user.pem

# Test
kubectl -n apisix exec -it <APISIX_POD_NAME> -- curl --resolve 'mtls.httpbin.local:9443:' "https://mtls.httpbin.local:9443/ip" -k --cert /tmp/user.pem --key /tmp/user.key

Parameter --cert and --key indicates our certificate and key path.

It should output normally:

"origin": ""