Skip to content

Transport Layer Security (TLS)

The Percona Operator for PostgreSQL uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) cryptographic protocol for the following types of communication:

  • Internal - communication between PostgreSQL instances in the cluster
  • External - communication between the client application and the cluster

The internal certificate is also used as an authorization method for PostgreSQL Replica instances.

TLS security can be configured in several ways:

  • the Operator can generate long-term certificates automatically at cluster creation time,
  • the Operator can use a specifically installed cert-manager, which will automatically generate and renew short-term TLS certificates,
  • you can also generate certificates manually.

The following subsections explain how to configure TLS security with the Operator yourself, as well as how to temporarily disable it if needed.

Install and use the cert-manager

About the cert-manager

The cert-manager is a Kubernetes certificate management controller which widely used to automate the management and issuance of TLS certificates. It is community-driven, and open source.

When you have already installed cert-manager and deploy the Operator, the Operator requests a certificate from the cert-manager. The cert-manager acts as a self-signed issuer and generates certificates. The Percona Operator self-signed issuer is local to the Operator namespace.

Self-signed issuer allows you to deploy and use the Operator without creating a cluster issuer separately.

Installation of the cert-manager

The steps to install the cert-manager are the following:

  • create a namespace,
  • disable resource validations on the cert-manager namespace,
  • install the cert-manager.

The following commands perform all the needed actions:

$ kubectl create namespace cert-manager
$ kubectl label namespace cert-manager
$ kubectl apply -f --validate=false

After the installation, you can verify the cert-manager by running the following command:

$ kubectl get pods -n cert-manager

The result should display the cert-manager and webhook active and running:

NAME                                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
cert-manager-7d59dd4888-tmjqq              1/1     Running   0          3m8s
cert-manager-cainjector-85899d45d9-8ncw9   1/1     Running   0          3m8s
cert-manager-webhook-84fcdcd5d-697k4       1/1     Running   0          3m8s

Once you create the database with the Operator, it will automatically trigger cert-manager to create certificates. Whenever you check certificates for expiration, you will find that they are valid and short-term.

Allow the Operator to generate certificates automatically

The Operator is able to generate long-term certificates automatically and turn on encryption at cluster creation time, if there are no certificate secrets available. Just deploy your cluster as usual, with the kubectl apply -f deploy/cr.yaml command, and certificates will be generated.

Check connectivity to the cluster

You can check TLS communication with use of the psql, the standard interactive terminal-based frontend to PostgreSQL. The following command will spawn a new pg-client container, which includes needed command and can be used for the check (use your real cluster name instead of the <cluster-name> placeholder):

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: pg-client
  replicas: 1
      name: pg-client
        name: pg-client
        - name: pg-client
          image: perconalab/percona-distribution-postgresql:15
          imagePullPolicy: Always
          - sleep
          - "100500"
            - name: ca
              mountPath: "/tmp/tls"
      - name: ca
          secretName: <cluster_name>-ssl-ca
          - key: ca.crt
            path: ca.crt
            mode: 0777

Now get shell access to the newly created container, and launch the PostgreSQL interactive terminal to check connectivity over the encrypted channel (please use real cluster-name, PostgreSQL user login and password):

$ kubectl exec -it deployment/pg-client -- bash -il
[postgres@pg-client /]$ PGSSLMODE=verify-ca PGSSLROOTCERT=/tmp/tls/ca.crt psql postgres://<postgresql-user>:<postgresql-password>@<cluster-name>-pgbouncer.<namespace>.svc.cluster.local

Now you should see the prompt of PostgreSQL interactive terminal:

$ psql (15)
Type "help" for help.

Generate certificates manually

To use custom TLS certificates for a Postgres cluster, you will need to create a Secret in the Namespace of your cluster that contains the TLS key (tls.key), TLS certificate (tls.crt) and the CA certificate (ca.crt) to use. The Secret should contain the following values:

  ca.crt: <value>
  tls.crt: <value>
  tls.key: <value>

You should generate certificates twice: one set is for external communications, and another set is for internal ones. A secret created for the external use must be added to the field of your Custom Resource. A certificate generated for internal communications must be added to the field.

For example, if you have files named ca.crt, hippo.key, and hippo.crt stored on your local machine, you could run the following command:

$ kubectl create secret generic -n postgres-operator hippo.tls \
  --from-file=ca.crt=ca.crt \
  --from-file=tls.key=hippo.key \

Now you can add the custom TLS Secret name to the field in your Rustom Resource:

    name: hippo.tls

Don’t forget to apply changes as usual:

$ kubectl apply -f deploy/cr.yaml

Check your certificates for expiration

  1. First, check the necessary secrets names (cluster1-cluster-cert and cluster1-replication-cert by default):

    $ kubectl get secrets

    You will have the following response:

    NAME                            TYPE     DATA   AGE
    cluster1-cluster-cert           Opaque   3      11m
    cluster1-replication-cert       Opaque   3      11m
  2. Now use the following command to find out the certificates validity dates, substituting Secrets names if necessary:

    $ {
      kubectl get secret/cluster1-replication-cert -o jsonpath='{.data.tls\.crt}' | base64 --decode | openssl x509 -noout -dates
      kubectl get secret/cluster1-cluster-cert -o jsonpath='{\.crt}' | base64 --decode | openssl x509 -noout -dates

    The resulting output will be self-explanatory:

    notBefore=Jun 28 10:20:19 2023 GMT
    notAfter=Jun 27 11:20:19 2024 GMT
    notBefore=Jun 28 10:20:18 2023 GMT
    notAfter=Jun 25 11:20:18 2033 GMT

Keep certificates after deleting the cluster

In case of cluster deletion, objects, created for SSL (Secret, certificate, and issuer) are not deleted by default.

If the user wants the cleanup of objects created for SSL, there is a Custom Resource option, which can be set in deploy/cr.yaml: if this finalizer is set, the Operator will delete Secret, certificate and issuer after the cluster deletion event.

Get expert help

If you need assistance, visit the community forum for comprehensive and free database knowledge, or contact our Percona Database Experts for professional support and services. Join K8S Squad to benefit from early access to features and “ask me anything” sessions with the Experts.

Last update: 2023-09-20