Skip to content

Athenz Service Identity X.509 Certificate for AWS EC2 instances

AWS EC2 Setup

Bootstrapping AWS EC2 instances with Athenz Service x.509 Identities requires the instances to have network connectivity to both Athenz ZTS and AWS STS Services.

Domain Registration

Identify your Athenz domain before you can proceed by using Athenz UI.

You may create a top-level domain or a sub domain using Athenz UI or zms-cli. Only Athenz System Administrators can create top level domains (members of the sys.auth domain's admin role). To create a top-level domain using zms-cli run the following:

zms-cli add-domakn <domain-name> <unique-product-id> <domain-admins separated by space>

If you already have top-level domain and need to create a sub domain using Athenz UI: click the "Create” link next to "My Domains" label in the top right corner and then click on “Sub Domain” tab and follow the on screen instruction.

Create Sub Domain

Or using zms-cli:

zms-cli add-doman <top-doman.sub-domain-name> <domain-admins separated by space>

AWS Account ID Registration

To register an AWS Account with a domain, run the following command:

zms-cli -d <domain-name> set-aws-account <aws-account-id>

Athenz Service Identity Registration

Create a service identity for your AWS EC2 instances in your Athenz domain. This full service identity name <domain>.<service> will be the IAM role name that you will need to create in AWS IAM and set up a trust relationship with your EC2 Instance Role.

In the Athenz UI, select your domain, select the Services tab and then choose Add a Service link in the top left corner. You must provide a service name and an optional description for your service.

Service Identity Registration

Athenz Service Identity Authorization

Before ZTS can validate and issue X.509 TLS Certificates to the AWS EC2 instance, it must validate that the service owner has authorized its service to be launched by AWS EC2 Provider. In the Athenz UI select your service that was created in the previous step and click on the icon in the Providers column:

Service Identity Authorization_1

Then, click on the Allow button to authorize your service to be launched by AWS EC2 provider.

Service Identity Authorization_2

IAM Role Setup

There are two IAM roles required for instances to obtain Athenz X.509 certificates:

  • EC2 Instance Profile Role
  • Athenz Service Identity Assume Role

It is assumed that at this point you have already configured the first EC2 Instance Profile IAM Role that your EC2 instance will be launched with.

The second Athenz Service Identity IAM Assume Role must be created and must have the <domain>.<service> name. This role will not have any permissions but instead will have a trust relationship with your EC2 instance role such that your EC2 instance role can assume this role.

In the AWS Console, select IAM from the Services drop down and then click on the Roles link in the left sidebar. Choose the Create Role button. Under the AWS Service type, select EC2, then EC2 again for the use case and finally choose Next: Permissions button in the bottom right corner.

IAM Role Setup_1

In the Attach permissions policy screen do not choose any permissions and just click on the Next: Review button in the bottom right corner to continue. Specify the Role name in the <domain>.<service> format and choose Create Role to complete the process.

In the Roles list view, choose the role just created and choose the Trust Relationships tab.

IAM Role Setup_2

Click on Edit trust relationship button and append a block containing the following policy to the Statement block (Replace the <account-id> and <ec2-instance-role> values with their corresponding values for your environment:

 {
   "Effect": "Allow",
   "Principal": {
     "AWS": "arn:aws:iam::<account-id>:role/<ec2-instance-role>"
   },
   "Action": "sts:AssumeRole"
 }

Once correctly updated, your EC2 instance role must appear in the Trusted entities table:

IAM Role Setup_3

Setup for Services with Region Specific Instance Profile Roles

The IAM Role setup is identical when you have the same service being deployed in multiple regions with role names that are specific to each region. Since IAM roles are global, you only need to create a single Athenz IAM Role in the <domain>.<service> format. Then, when you're setting up your trust relationship, you'll authorize all your region specific profile roles to have the capability to assume the Athenz <domain>.<service> role.

Installing SIA

The AWS SIA source is part of the Athenz project and can be found in:

provider/aws/sia-ec2

Follow the readme for instructions on how to install it.

SIA Configuration Setup

When building your image, you can include the following configuration file called sia_config in the /etc/sia directory. It must include the following required fields:

{
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "service": "<service name>",
  "accounts": [
    {
      "domain": "<domain name>",
      "account": "<aws account id associated with domain name>"
    }
  ]
}

The domain/account/service values here must match to the IAM Role created earlier. For example, if the service identity name is api in domain sports whose corresponding aws account id is 123456789, then the sia_config file will be as follows:

{
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "service": "api",
  "accounts": [
    {
      "domain": "sports",
      "account": "123456789"
    }
  ]
}

Private Key File Ownership

By default SIA agent runs as root and the private key is only readable by root. If your service is running as another user, you can configure SIA agent to automatically change the ownership of the private key file to the configured user. For example, if you want the private key to be owned by ec2-user, then your sia_config configuration file would be as follows:

{
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "service": "api",
  "accounts": [
    {
      "domain": "sports",
      "account": "123456789",
      "user": "ec2-user"
    }
  ]
}

Private Key and Certificate Setup

By default, the private key for the service identity is available in the /var/lib/sia/keys directory and has the name <domain>.<service>.key.pem. The private key is in PKCS#1 format. The corresponding X.509 certificate is in the /var/lib/sia/certs directory and has the name <domain>.<service>.cert.pem. The certificate is valid for 30 days and will be refreshed automatically by SIA every day. It is the responsibility of the application owner to update their container/application to refresh and use the latest certificate before it expires. In the same /var/lib/sia/certs directory SIA will also generate the Athenz CA certificate file called ca.cert.pem.

Role Certificate Support

In addition to requesting Athenz service identity certificate, SIA provides the capability to request Athenz Role Certificates as well. If you want to change the default behavior or request SIA to automatically retrieve role certificates for your service, as part of building your ami image, you can include the following additional fields in the configuration file:

{
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "service": "<service name>",
  "accounts": [
    {
      "domain": "<domain name>",
      "account": "<aws account id associated with domain name>",
      "roles": {
        "<role-domain1>:role.<role-name1>": {
        },
        "<role-domain2>:role.<role-name2>": {
        }
      }
    }
  ]
}

The role certificates will also be stored in the /var/lib/sia/certs directory and have the name of <role-domain1>:role.<role-name1>.cert.pem. They are also valid for 30 days and SIA will automatically refresh them once a day.

Setup Without SIA Configuration File

If a property deploying their service in AWS meets the following 2 requirements:

  • does not need any role certificates to be retrieved by SIA automatically
  • has the option to name their EC2 instance role

then they have the option for a simpler setup without including a sia configuration file in their image.

In this model, the property would name their EC2 instance role as <domain>.<service>-service. The property must still follow the full steps as described in the IAM Role Setup section to setup the <domain>.<service> role, but the requirement to have a sia_config file is no longer present. When SIA is running and is not able to find the sia_config file, it will check if the instance profile arn has the <domain>.<service>-service format. If it does, then it would drop -service part to parse the rest of the string to extract the Athenz domain and service values and determine the assume role name that it needs to fetch temporary credentials for before contacting ZTS Server.

Non Standard Instance Profile Name

If a property deploying their service in AWS does not have the capability to name their instance profile role name as <domain>.<service>-service due to legacy requirements, the following steps can be followed to configure SIA to use the non-standard instance profile name.

  • The property must still follow the full steps as described in the IAM Role Setup section to setup the <domain>.<service> role and the trust relationship.
  • The property must install a SIA config file /etc/sia/sia_config specifying the service name that will be deployed on this instance

Independent Instance Profile and Role Names

It is possible to setup only a single role within AWS IAM in the format <domain>.<service> and name the IAM profile name as <domain>.<service>-service without creating a separate role. However, there is currently no support in the AWS UI console for naming your IAM role and IAM instance profile independently. You can do this with Cloud Formation, Ansible, TF, the AWS API, or the CLI. Here is an example using the CLI - replace <domain>, <service> and <account-id> parameters with their respective values for your environment:

aws iam create-role --role-name <domain>.<service> --assume-role-policy-document='{"Version":"2012-10-17","Statement":[{"Effect":"Allow","Principal":{"Service":"ec2.amazonaws.com"},"Action":"sts:AssumeRole"}]}'

aws iam create-instance-profile --instance-profile-name <domain>.<service>-service

aws iam update-assume-role-policy --role-name <domain>.<service> --policy-document '{"Version":"2012-10-17","Statement":[{"Effect":"Allow","Principal":{"Service":"ec2.amazonaws.com"},"Action":"sts:AssumeRole"},{"Effect":"Allow","Principal":{"AWS":"arn:aws:iam::<account-id>:role/<domain>.<service>"},"Action":"sts:AssumeRole"}]}'

aws iam add-role-to-instance-profile --instance-profile-name <domain>.<service>-service --role-name <domain>.<service>

However, this model is not recommended from security perspective if your <domain>.<service> role has access to other AWS services. Temporary credentials for that role are sent to Athenz ZTS service as your authentication credentials and, as such, you do not want to expose those additional access capabilities to the ZTS Server.

Troubleshooting

SIA process outputs all of its messages to syslog, so if there are any issues with your configuration, it will be reported in syslog. You can execute: sudo grep siad /var/log/messages and see what operation sia was not able to complete successfully. The agent is configured to run every 20 seconds in case of a failure, so you'll most likely see the same block being repeated multiple times. ZTS server allows instances to obtain x.509 certificates only during the first 30 minutes after the initial bootstrap time so even if you address the configuration issues, once the 30 mins have passed, the instance will no longer be able to obtain its x.509 service identity certificate. The only option at that time is to terminate and launch a new instance.