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Managing PKCS12 Certificates in Kubernetes using the Doppler Secrets Operator

Sep 21, 2021
Ryan Blunden Avatar
Ryan Blunden
Senior Developer Advocate
Managing PKCS12 Certificates in Kubernetes using the Doppler Secrets Operator
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Managing PKCS12 Certificates in Kubernetes using the Doppler Secrets Operator


Installing the Kubernetes Operator

The Doppler Kubernetes Operator continuously syncs secrets to Kubernetes and can auto-reload deployments when secrets change.

Install the Operator using Helm:

helm repo add doppler https://helm.doppler.com helm install --generate-name doppler/doppler-kubernetes-operator

Or kubectl:

1kubectl apply -f https://github.com/DopplerHQ/kubernetes-operator/releases/latest/download/recommended.yaml

Installing the Kubernetes Operator creates the following resources:

  • doppler-operator-system namespace
  • DopplerSecret Custom Resource Definition (CRD)
  • Service account and RBAC role for the Operator
  • Operator Deployment

Visit the Kubernetes Operator GitHub repository to learn more.

Importing the PKCS12 Certificate to Doppler

As the PKCS12 certificate is in binary format, it must be base64 encoded before importing to Doppler.

If you haven't yet created a Doppler project, you can use the CLI:

1doppler projects create pkcs12

Select the appropriate environment to import the secret to:

1doppler setup --project pkcs12 --config prd

Then create the base64 encoded PKCS12 certificate secret:

1doppler secrets set PKCS12_CERT="$(base64 -i doppler.p12)"

If your PKCS12 certificate is password-protected, you'll need to add that too:

1doppler secrets set PKCS12_PASS="changeit"

Kubernetes Operator Secrets Sync

A Doppler Service Token is required to give the Operator access to the secrets for a specific project and config. It will be stored in a Kubernetes secret that the Operator will then access.

Create the Service Token and inject it as a Kubernetes secret in the doppler-operator-system namespace:

1kubectl create secret generic doppler-project-pkcs12-token \
2  --namespace doppler-operator-system \
3  --from-literal=serviceToken=$(doppler configs tokens create kubernetes-operator --plain)

Next, we'll create a custom DopplerSecret which contains data the Operator uses to manage the Kubernetes secret containing the synced secrets.

Kubernetes secrets are base64 encoded, not for security, but to store binary values such as PKCS12 certificates. But as the PKCS12 certificate is already base64 encoded in Doppler, we'll use the optional processors: map, which tells the Operator to skip base64 encoding the PKCS12_CERT value.

Save the file contents as doppler-secret-pkcs12.yaml:

1apiVersion: secrets.doppler.com/v1alpha1
2kind: DopplerSecret
4  name: doppler-secret-pkcs12 # Name of custom resource 
5  namespace: doppler-operator-system
7  tokenSecret:
8    name: doppler-project-pkcs12-token # Name of Kubernetes service token secret from previous step
9  managedSecret:
10    name: doppler-pkcs12  # Name of Kubernetes secret Operator will sync secrets to
11    namespace: default # Namespace of the deployment that will use the secret
12  processors:
13    PKCS12_CERT:
14      type: base64 # Instructs the Operator to not base64 encode the secret value again

Then create the DopplerSecret in Kubernetes:

1kubectl apply -f pkcs12-secret.yaml

You can check the Operator created the Kubernetes synced secret by querying for secrets with the Operator's custom label:

1kubectl describe secrets --selector=secrets.doppler.com/subtype=dopplerSecret

The output should be similar to:

1Name:         doppler-pkcs12
2Namespace:    default
3Labels:       secrets.doppler.com/subtype=dopplerSecret
4Annotations:  secrets.doppler.com/dashboard-link: https://dashboard.doppler.com/workplace/projects/pkcs12/configs/prd
5              secrets.doppler.com/processor-version: 07647691b375a71fda056fa16a8adb90a1caa0aea8e8adc3bc6ee7a5b69405a4
6              secrets.doppler.com/version: W/"d249692722e5022e9a08b911e4b4f53de7e69d0c6c98df6ddde8c679347a4b47"
8Type:  Opaque
12PKCS12_PASS:          8 bytes
13DOPPLER_CONFIG:       3 bytes
15DOPPLER_PROJECT:      6 bytes
16PKCS12_CERT:          3975 bytes

The final step is mounting the certificate inside a container.

Mount PKCS12 Certificate Inside a Kubernetes Deployment

The below deployment uses the doppler-pkcs12 managed secret created by the Operator to mount the certificate using a secrets volume and supply the certificate password using the PKCS12_PASS environment variable.

The command and args combine to verify the certificate by extracting its metadata for testing purposes.

Save the file contents as pkcs12-deployment.yaml:

1apiVersion: apps/v1
2kind: Deployment
4  name: doppler-pkcs12
5  annotations:
6    secrets.doppler.com/reload: 'true'
8  replicas: 1
9  selector:
10    matchLabels:
11      app: doppler-pkcs12
12  template:
13    metadata:
14        labels:
15          app: doppler-pkcs12
16    spec:
17      containers:
18        - name: doppler-pkcs12
19          image: alpine
20          workingDir: /usr/src/app          
21          command:
22            - '/bin/sh'          
23          args: # Install OpenSSL and verify certificate for testing purposes
24            - '-c'
25            - 'apk add openssl > /dev/null && 
26              openssl pkcs12 -in ./secrets/doppler.p12 -nodes -passin pass:"$PKCS12_PASS" | openssl x509 -noout -text && 
27              tail -f /dev/null'          
28          env: # Set PKCS12_PASS environment variable needed to decrypt  certificate
29            - name: PKCS12_PASS
30              valueFrom:
31                secretKeyRef:
32                  name: doppler-pkcs12  # Operator managed secret
33                  key: PKCS12_PASS
34          volumeMounts:
35            - name: doppler-pkcs12-volume
36              readOnly: true
37              mountPath: /usr/src/app/secrets
38          resources:
39            limits:
40              memory: '256Mi'
41              cpu: '250m'
42      volumes:
43        - name: doppler-pkcs12-volume
44          secret:
45            secretName: doppler-pkcs12 # Operator managed secret
46            items: 
47            - key: PKCS12_CERT # Only select the PKCS12_CERT for mounting
48              path: doppler.p12 # Certificate name at mount path

Create the deployment in Kubernetes:

1kubectl apply -f pkcs12-deployment.yaml

Then confirm the certificate was verified by viewing the container logs:

1kubectl logs --selector app=doppler-pkcs12 --tail=70


Awesome work!

Now you know how to store and automatically sync PKCS12 certificates from Doppler to Kubernetes using the Doppler Kubernetes Operator.

Check out the Kubernetes Operator documentation and head to the Doppler Community Forum if you need help or have any questions.

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