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TLS termination and enabling HTTPS

TLS encryption is one of the basic requirements of having a secure system. Ambassador Edge Stack automatically enables TLS termination/HTTPs , making TLS encryption easy and centralizing TLS termination for all of your services in Kubernetes.

While this automatic certificate management in Ambassador Edge Stack helps simply TLS configuration in your cluster, the Open-Source Emissary-ingress still requires you provide your own certificate to enable TLS.

The following will walk you through the process of enabling TLS with a self-signed certificate created with the openssl utility.

Note these instructions also work if you would like to provide your own certificate to Ambassador Edge Stack.


This guide requires you have the following installed:

  • A Kubernetes cluster v1.11 or newer
  • The Kubernetes command-line tool, kubectl
  • openssl

Install Emissary-ingress

Install Emissary-ingress in Kubernetes.

Create a listener listening on the correct port and protocol

We first need to create a listener to tell Emissary which port will be using the HTTPS protocol

Create a self-signed certificate

OpenSSL is a tool that allows us to create self-signed certificates for opening a TLS encrypted connection. The openssl command below will create a create a certificate and private key pair that Emissary-ingress can use for TLS termination.

  • Create a private key and certificate.

    The above command will create a certificate and private key with the common name ambassador. Since this certificate is self-signed and only used for testing, the other information requested can be left blank.

  • Verify the key.pem and cert.pem files were created

Store the certificate and key in a Kubernetes Secret

Emissary-ingress dynamically loads TLS certificates by reading them from Kubernetes secrets. Use kubectl to create a tls secret to hold the pem files we created above.

Tell Emissary-ingress to use this secret for TLS termination

Now that we have stored our certificate and private key in a Kubernetes secret named tls-cert, we need to tell Emissary-ingress to use this certificate for terminating TLS on a domain. A Host is used to tell Emissary-ingress which certificate to use for TLS termination on a domain.

Create the following Host to have Emissary-ingress use the Secret we created above for terminating TLS on all domains.

Note: If running multiple instances of Emissary-ingress in one cluster remember to include the ambassador_id property in the spec, e.g.:

Apply the Host configured above with kubectl:

Emissary-ingress is now configured to listen for TLS traffic on port 8443 and terminate TLS using the self-signed certificate we created.

Send a request Over HTTPS

We can now send encrypted traffic over HTTPS.

First, make sure the Emissary-ingress service is listening on 443 and forwarding to port 8443. Verify this with kubectl:

If the output to the kubectl command is not similar to the example above, edit the Emissary-ingress service to add the https port.

After verifying Emissary-ingress is listening on port 443, send a request to your backend service with curl:

Note: Since we are using a self-signed certificate, you must set the -k flag in curl to disable hostname validation.

Next steps

This guide walked you through how to enable basic TLS termination in Emissary-ingress using a self-signed certificate for simplicity.

Get a valid certificate from a certificate authority

While a self-signed certificate is a simple and quick way to get Emissary-ingress to terminate TLS, it should not be used by production systems. In order to serve HTTPS traffic without being returned a security warning, you will need to get a certificate from an official Certificate Authority like Let's Encrypt.

Jetstack's cert-manager provides a simple way to manage certificates from Let's Encrypt. See our documentation for more information on how to use cert-manager with Emissary-ingress .

Enable advanced TLS options

Emissary-ingress exposes configuration for many more advanced options around TLS termination, origination, client certificate validation, and SNI support. See the full TLS reference for more information.