Encrypting communications in Elasticsearchedit

X-Pack security enables you to encrypt traffic to, from, and within your Elasticsearch cluster. Connections are secured using Transport Layer Security (TLS/SSL).

Warning

Clusters that do not have encryption enabled send all data in plain text including passwords and will not be able to install a license that enables X-Pack security.

To enable encryption, you need to perform the following steps on each node in the cluster:

  1. Verify that the xpack.security.enabled setting is true. For more information, see Security settings.
  2. Generate a private key and X.509 certificate.
  3. Configure each node to:

  4. If you are using Active Directory user authentication, encrypt communications between Elasticsearch and your Active Directory server.
  5. If you are using LDAP user authentication, encrypt communications between Elasticsearch and your LDAP server.

For more information about encrypting communications across the Elastic Stack, see Encrypting Communications.

Generating Node Certificatesedit

TLS requires X.509 certificates to perform encryption and authentication of the application that is being communicated with. In order for the communication between nodes to be truly secure, the certificates must be validated. The recommended approach for validating certificate authenticity in an Elasticsearch cluster is to trust the certificate authority (CA) that signed the certificate. By doing this, as nodes are added to your cluster they just need to use a certificate signed by the same CA and the node is automatically allowed to join the cluster. Additionally, it is recommended that the certificates contain subject alternative names (SAN) that correspond to the node’s IP address and DNS name so that hostname verification can be performed.

In order to simplify the process of generating certificates for the Elastic Stack, a command line tool, elasticsearch-certutil has been included with X-Pack. This tool takes care of generating a CA and signing certificates with the CA. elasticsearch-certutil can be used interactively or in a silent mode through the use of an input file. The elasticsearch-certutil tool also supports generation of certificate signing requests (CSR), so that a commercial- or organization-specific CA can be used to sign the certificates. For example:

  1. Optional: Create a certificate authority for your Elasticsearch cluster.

    For example, use the elasticsearch-certutil ca command:

    bin/elasticsearch-certutil ca

    You can configure the cluster to trust all nodes that have a certificate that has been signed by this CA.

    The command outputs a single file, with a default name of elastic-stack-ca.p12. This file is a PKCS#12 keystore that contains the public certificate for your CA and the private key that is used to sign the certificates for each node.

    The elasticsearch-certutil command also prompts you for a password to protect the file and key. If you plan to add more nodes to your cluster in the future, retain a copy of the file and remember its password.

  2. Generate a certificate and private key for for each node in your cluster.

    For example, use the elasticsearch-certutil cert command:

    bin/elasticsearch-certutil cert --ca elastic-stack-ca.p12

    The output is a single PKCS#12 keystore that includes the node certificate, node key, and CA certificate.

    You are also prompted for a password. You can enter a password for your certificate and key, or you can leave the password blank by pressing Enter.

    By default elasticsearch-certutil generates certificates that have no hostname information in them (that is, they do not have any Subject Alternative Name fields). This means that you can use the certificate for every node in your cluster, but you must turn off hostname verification as shown in the configuration below.

    If you want to use hostname verification within your cluster, run the elasticsearch-certutil cert command once for each of your nodes and provide the --name, --dns and --ip options.

    Note

    You should secure the output files, since they contain the private keys for your instance.

    Alternatively, if you want to use a commercial or organization-specific CA, you can use the elasticsearch-certutil csr command to generate certificate signing requests (CSR) for the nodes in your cluster. For more information, see elasticsearch-certutil.

  3. Copy the node certificate to the appropriate locations.

    Copy the applicable .p12 file into a directory within the Elasticsearch configuration directory on each node. For example, /home/es/config/certs. There is no need to copy the CA file to this directory.

    For each additional Elastic product that you want to configure, copy the certificates to the relevant configuration directory.

Note

If you choose not to use elasticsearch-certutil, the certificates that you obtain must allow for both clientAuth and serverAuth if the extended key usage extension is present. The certificates need to be in PEM or PKCS#12 format. Although not required, it is highly recommended that the certificate contain the DNS names and/or IP addresses of the node so that hostname verification can be used.

Encrypting Communications Between Nodes in a Clusteredit

The transport networking layer is used for internal communication between nodes in a cluster. When X-Pack security is enabled, you must use TLS to ensure that communication between the nodes is encrypted.

  1. Generate node certificates.
  2. Enable TLS and specify the information required to access the node’s certificate.

    • If the signed certificate is in PKCS#12 format, add the following information to the elasticsearch.yml file on each node:

      xpack.security.transport.ssl.enabled: true
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.verification_mode: certificate 
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.keystore.path: certs/elastic-certificates.p12 
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.truststore.path: certs/elastic-certificates.p12 

      If you used the --dns or --ip options with the elasticsearch-certutil cert command and you want to enable strict hostname checking, set the verification mode to full. See xpack.ssl.verification_mode for a description of these values.

      If you created a separate certificate for each node, then you might need to customize this path on each node. If the filename matches the node name, you can use the certs/${node.name}.p12 format, for example.

      The elasticsearch-certutil outputs a PKCS#12 keystore which includes the CA certificate as a trusted certificate entry. This allows for the keystore to also be used as a truststore. In this case, the path value should match the keystore.path value. Note, however, that this is not the general rule. There are keystores that cannot be used as trustores, only specifically crafted ones can

    • If the certificate is in PEM format, add the following information to the elasticsearch.yml file on each node:

      xpack.security.transport.ssl.enabled: true
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.verification_mode: certificate 
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.key: /home/es/config/node01.key 
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.certificate: /home/es/config/node01.crt 
      xpack.security.transport.ssl.certificate_authorities: [ "/home/es/config/ca.crt" ] 

      If you used the --dns or --ip options with the elasticsearch-certutil cert command and you want to enable strict hostname checking, set the verification mode to full. See xpack.ssl.verification_mode for a description of these values.

      The full path to the node key file. This must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

      The full path to the node certificate. This must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

      An array of paths to the CA certificates that should be trusted. These paths must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

  3. If you secured the node’s certificate with a password, add the password to your Elasticsearch keystore:

    • If the signed certificate is in PKCS#12 format, use the following commands:

      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.transport.ssl.keystore.secure_password
      
      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.transport.ssl.truststore.secure_password
    • If the certificate is in PEM format, use the following commands:

      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.transport.ssl.secure_key_passphrase
  4. Restart Elasticsearch.

    You must perform a full cluster restart. Nodes which are configured to use TLS cannot communicate with nodes that are using unencrypted networking (and vice-versa). After enabling TLS you must restart all nodes in order to maintain communication across the cluster.

Note

All TLS-related node settings are considered to be highly sensitive and therefore are not exposed via the nodes info API For more information about any of these settings, see Security settings.

Encrypting HTTP Client Communicationsedit

When X-Pack security is enabled, you can optionally use TLS to ensure that communication between HTTP clients and the cluster is encrypted.

Note

Enabling TLS on the HTTP layer is strongly recommended but is not required. If you enable TLS on the HTTP layer in Elasticsearch, then you might need to make configuration changes in other parts of the Elastic Stack and in any Elasticsearch clients that you use.

  1. If you have not done so already, generate node certificates.
  2. Enable TLS and specify the information required to access the node’s certificate.

    • If the certificate is in PKCS#12 format, add the following information to the elasticsearch.yml file on each node:

      xpack.security.http.ssl.enabled: true
      xpack.security.http.ssl.keystore.path: certs/elastic-certificates.p12 
      xpack.security.http.ssl.truststore.path: certs/elastic-certificates.p12 

      If you created a separate certificate for each node, then you might need to customize this path on each node. If the filename matches the node name, you can use the certs/${node.name}.p12 format, for example.

      The elasticsearch-certutil output includes the CA certificate inside the PKCS#12 keystore, therefore the keystore can also be used as the truststore. This name should match the keystore.path value.

    • If the certificate is in PEM format, add the following information to the elasticsearch.yml file on each node:

      xpack.security.http.ssl.enabled: true
      xpack.security.http.ssl.key:  /home/es/config/node01.key 
      xpack.security.http.ssl.certificate: /home/es/config/node01.crt 
      xpack.security.http.ssl.certificate_authorities: [ "/home/es/config/ca.crt" ] 

      The full path to the node key file. This must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

      The full path to the node certificate. This must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

      An array of paths to the CA certificates that should be trusted. These paths must be a location within the Elasticsearch configuration directory.

  3. If you secured the node’s certificate with a password, add the password to your Elasticsearch keystore:

    • If the signed certificate is in PKCS#12 format, use the following commands:

      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.http.ssl.keystore.secure_password
      
      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.http.ssl.truststore.secure_password
    • If the certificate is in PEM format, use the following commands:

      bin/elasticsearch-keystore add xpack.security.http.ssl.secure_key_passphrase
  4. Restart Elasticsearch.
Note

All TLS-related node settings are considered to be highly sensitive and therefore are not exposed via the nodes info API For more information about any of these settings, see Security settings.

Encrypting communications between Elasticsearch and Active Directoryedit

To protect the user credentials that are sent for authentication, it’s highly recommended to encrypt communications between Elasticsearch and your Active Directory server. Connecting via SSL/TLS ensures that the identity of the Active Directory server is authenticated before X-Pack security transmits the user credentials and the usernames and passwords are encrypted in transit.

Clients and nodes that connect via SSL/TLS to the Active Directory server need to have the Active Directory server’s certificate or the server’s root CA certificate installed in their keystore or truststore.

  1. Create the realm configuration for the xpack.security.authc.realms namespace in the elasticsearch.yml file. See Configuring an Active Directory realm.
  2. Set the url attribute in the realm configuration to specify the LDAPS protocol and the secure port number. For example, url: ldaps://ad.example.com:636.
  3. Configure each node to trust certificates signed by the certificate authority (CA) that signed your Active Directory server certificates.

    The following example demonstrates how to trust a CA certificate (cacert.pem), which is located within the configuration directory:

    xpack:
      security:
        authc:
          realms:
            active_directory:
              type: active_directory
              order: 0
              domain_name: ad.example.com
              url: ldaps://ad.example.com:636
              ssl:
                certificate_authorities: [ "ES_PATH_CONF/cacert.pem" ]

    The CA cert must be a PEM encoded certificate.

    For more information about these settings, see Active Directory realm settingsedit.

  4. Restart Elasticsearch.
Note

By default, when you configure X-Pack security to connect to Active Directory using SSL/TLS, X-Pack security attempts to verify the hostname or IP address specified with the url attribute in the realm configuration with the values in the certificate. If the values in the certificate and realm configuration do not match, X-Pack security does not allow a connection to the Active Directory server. This is done to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks. If necessary, you can disable this behavior by setting the ssl.verification_mode property to certificate.

Encrypting communications between Elasticsearch and LDAPedit

To protect the user credentials that are sent for authentication in an LDAP realm, it’s highly recommended to encrypt communications between Elasticsearch and your LDAP server. Connecting via SSL/TLS ensures that the identity of the LDAP server is authenticated before X-Pack security transmits the user credentials and the contents of the connection are encrypted. Clients and nodes that connect via TLS to the LDAP server need to have the LDAP server’s certificate or the server’s root CA certificate installed in their keystore or truststore.

For more information, see Configuring an LDAP realm.

  1. Configure the realm’s TLS settings on each node to trust certificates signed by the CA that signed your LDAP server certificates. The following example demonstrates how to trust a CA certificate, cacert.pem, located within the X-Pack configuration directory:

    xpack:
      security:
        authc:
          realms:
            ldap1:
              type: ldap
              order: 0
              url: "ldaps://ldap.example.com:636"
              ssl:
                certificate_authorities: [ "ES_PATH_CONF/cacert.pem" ]

    The CA certificate must be a PEM encoded.

    Note

    You can also specify the individual server certificates rather than the CA certificate, but this is only recommended if you have a single LDAP server or the certificates are self-signed.

  2. Set the url attribute in the realm configuration to specify the LDAPS protocol and the secure port number. For example, url: ldaps://ldap.example.com:636.
  3. Restart Elasticsearch.
Note

By default, when you configure X-Pack security to connect to an LDAP server using SSL/TLS, X-Pack security attempts to verify the hostname or IP address specified with the url attribute in the realm configuration with the values in the certificate. If the values in the certificate and realm configuration do not match, X-Pack security does not allow a connection to the LDAP server. This is done to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks. If necessary, you can disable this behavior by setting the ssl.verification_mode property to certificate.