Certificate signing - Amazon EKS

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Certificate signing

The Kubernetes Certificates API automates X.509 credential provisioning. The API features a command line interface for Kubernetes API clients to request and obtain X.509 certificates from a Certificate Authority (CA). You can use the CertificateSigningRequest (CSR) resource to request that a denoted signer sign the certificate. Your requests are either approved or denied before they're signed. Kubernetes supports both built-in signers and custom signers with well-defined behaviors. This way, clients can predict what happens to their CSRs. To learn more about certificate signing, see signing requests.

One of the built-in signers is kubernetes.io/legacy-unknown. The v1beta1 API of CSR resource honored this legacy-unknown signer. However, the stable v1 API of CSR doesn't allow the signerName to be set to kubernetes.io/legacy-unknown.

Amazon EKS version 1.21 and earlier allowed the legacy-unknown value as the signerName in v1beta1 CSR API. This API enables the Amazon EKS Certificate Authority (CA) to generate certificates. However, in Kubernetes version 1.22, the v1beta1 CSR API was replaced by the v1 CSR API. This API doesn't support the signerName of “legacy-unknown.” If you want to use Amazon EKS CA for generating certificates on your clusters, you must use a custom signer. It was introduced in Amazon EKS version 1.22. To use the CSR v1 API version and generate a new certificate, you must migrate any existing manifests and API clients. Existing certificates that were created with the existing v1beta1 API are valid and function until the certificate expires. This includes the following:

  • Trust distribution: None. There's no standard trust or distribution for this signer in a Kubernetes cluster.

  • Permitted subjects: Any

  • Permitted x509 extensions: Honors subjectAltName and key usage extensions and discards other extensions

  • Permitted key usages: Must not include usages beyond ["key encipherment", "digital signature", "server auth"]


    Client certificate signing is not supported.

  • Expiration/certificate lifetime: 1 year (default and maximum)

  • CA bit allowed/disallowed: Not allowed

Example CSR generation with signerName

These steps shows how to generate a serving certificate for DNS name myserver.default.svc using signerName: beta.eks.amazonaws.com/app-serving. Use this as a guide for your own environment.

  1. Run the openssl genrsa -out myserver.key 2048 command to generate an RSA private key.

    openssl genrsa -out myserver.key 2048
  2. Run the following command to generate a certificate request.

    openssl req -new -key myserver.key -out myserver.csr -subj "/CN=myserver.default.svc"
  3. Generate a base64 value for the CSR request and store it in a variable for use in a later step.

    base_64=$(cat myserver.csr | base64 -w 0 | tr -d "\n")
  4. Run the following command to create a file named mycsr.yaml. In the following example, beta.eks.amazonaws.com/app-serving is the signerName.

    cat >mycsr.yaml <<EOF apiVersion: certificates.k8s.io/v1 kind: CertificateSigningRequest metadata: name: myserver spec: request: $base_64 signerName: beta.eks.amazonaws.com/app-serving usages: - digital signature - key encipherment - server auth EOF
  5. Submit the CSR.

    kubectl apply -f mycsr.yaml
  6. Approve the serving certificate.

    kubectl certificate approve myserver
  7. Verify that the certificate was issued.

    kubectl get csr myserver

    An example output is as follows.

    NAME AGE SIGNERNAME REQUESTOR CONDITION myserver 3m20s beta.eks.amazonaws.com/app-serving kubernetes-admin Approved,Issued
  8. Export the issued certificate.

    kubectl get csr myserver -o jsonpath='{.status.certificate}'| base64 -d > myserver.crt

Certificate signing considerations before upgrading your cluster to Kubernetes 1.24

In Kubernetes 1.23 and earlier, kubelet serving certificates with unverifiable IP and DNS Subject Alternative Names (SANs) are automatically issued with unverifiable SANs. The SANs are omitted from the provisioned certificate. In 1.24 and later clusters, kubelet serving certificates aren't issued if a SAN can't be verified. This prevents the kubectl exec and kubectl logs commands from working.

Before upgrading your cluster to 1.24, determine whether your cluster has certificate signing requests (CSR) that haven't been approved by completing the following steps:

  1. Run the following command.

    kubectl get csr -A

    An example output is as follows.

    NAME AGE SIGNERNAME REQUESTOR REQUESTEDDURATION CONDITION csr-7znmf 90m kubernetes.io/kubelet-serving system:node:ip-192-168-42-149.region.compute.internal <none> Approved csr-9xx5q 90m kubernetes.io/kubelet-serving system:node:ip-192-168-65-38.region.compute.internal <none> Approved, Issued

    If the returned output shows a CSR with a kubernetes.io/kubelet-serving signer that's Approved but not Issued for a node, then you need to approve the request.

  2. Manually approve the CSR. Replace csr-7znmf with your own value.

    kubectl certificate approve csr-7znmf

To auto-approve CSRs in the future, we recommend that you write an approving controller that can automatically validate and approve CSRs that contain IP or DNS SANs that Amazon EKS can't verify.