K8ssandra security

K8ssandra security defaults, secrets, and options for Apache Cassandra® authentication and role-based authorization.

This topic describes how K8ssandra supports Cassandra’s authentication and authorization features. Also, how Kubernetes secrets are created and used by the K8ssandra deployed components: Cassandra (via cass-operator), Stargate, Reaper, and Medusa.

Introduction

K8ssandra enables authentication and authorization by default. It uses the Cassandra default PasswordAuthenticator and CassandraAuthorizer functionality.

Cassandra security

With authentication enabled, K8ssandra configures a new, default superuser. The username defaults to {cassandra.clusterName}-superuser.

The password is a random alphanumeric string 20 characters long.

You can override the default username by setting the cassandra.auth.superuser.username property.

Credentials are stored in a secret named {cassandra.clusterName}-superuser. If your cluster name is k8ssandra, for example, you can retrieve the username and password as follows:

kubectl get secret k8ssandra-superuser -o json | jq -r '.data.username' | base64 --decode
kubectl get secret k8ssandra-superuser -o json | jq -r '.data.password' | base64 --decode

You can override both the username and password by providing your own secret and setting cassandra.auth.superuser.secret to its name.

If you provide your own secret it will not be managed by Helm. Helm will not do anything with it when you run helm upgrade or helm uninstall, for example.

For more, see the secrets section of this security topic.

If both cassandra.auth.superuser.username and cassandra.auth.superuser.secret are set, cassandra.auth.superuser.secret takes precedence.

Stargate security

With authentication enabled, K8ssandra creates a default user for Stargate. The default username is stargate.

The password is a random, alphanumeric string 20 characters long.

The user is created as a superuser because (at this time) K8ssandra does not support configuring authorization.

You can override the default username by setting the stargate.cassandraUser.username property.

Credentials are stored in a secret named {cassandra.clusterName}-stargate. If your cluster name is k8ssandra, for example, you can retrieve the username and password as follows:

kubectl get secret k8ssandra-stargate -o json | jq -r '.data.username' | base64 --decode
$ kubectl get secret k8ssandra-stargate -o json | jq -r '.data.password' | base64 --decode

You can override both the username and password by providing your own secret and setting stargate.cassandraUser.secret to its name.

If you provide your own secret it will not be managed by Helm. Helm will not do anything with it when you run helm upgrade or helm uninstall, for example.

For more, see the secrets section of this security topic.

If both stargate.cassandraUser.username and stargate.cassandraUser.superuser.secret are set, stargate.cassandraUser.secret takes precedence.

Reaper security

With authentication enabled, K8ssandra creates a default user for Reaper. The default username is reaper.

The password is a random, alphanumeric string 20 characters long.

The user is created as a superuser because (at this time) K8ssandra does not support configuring authorization.

You can override the default username by setting the reaper.cassandraUser.username property.

Credentials are stored in a secret named {cassandra.clusterName}-reaper. If your cluster name is k8ssandra, for example, you can retrieve the username and password as follows:

kubectl get secret k8ssandra-reaper -o json | jq -r '.data.username' | base64 --decode
kubectl get secret k8ssandra-reaper -o json | jq -r '.data.password' | base64 --decode

You can override both the username and password by providing your own secret and setting reaper.cassandraUser.secret to its name.

If you provide your own secret it will not be managed by Helm. Helm will not do anything with it when you run helm upgrade or helm uninstall, for example.

For more, see the secrets section of this security topic.

If both reaper.cassandraUser.username and reaper.cassandraUser.superuser.secret are set, reaper.cassandraUser.secret takes precedence.

Medusa security

With authentication enabled, K8ssandra creates a default user for Medusa. The default username is medusa.

The password is a random, alphanumeric string 20 characters long.

The user is created as a superuser because (at this time) K8ssandra does not support configuring authorization.

You can override the default username by setting the medusa.cassandraUser.username property.

Credentials are stored in a secret named {cassandra.clusterName}-medusa. If your cluster name is k8ssandra, for example, you can retrieve the username and password as follows:

kubectl get secret k8ssandra-medusa -o json | jq -r '.data.username' | base64 --decode
kubectl get secret k8ssandra-medusa -o json | jq -r '.data.password' | base64 --decode

You can override both the username and password by providing your own secret and setting medusa.cassandraUser.secret to its name.

If you provide your own secret it will not be managed by Helm. Helm will not do anything with it when you run helm upgrade or helm uninstall, for example.

For more, see the secrets section of this security topic.

If both medusa.cassandraUser.username and medusa.cassandraUser.superuser.secret are set, medusa.cassandraUser.secret takes precedence.

Secrets

Kubernetes secrets let you store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords, OAuth tokens, and ssh keys. Storing confidential information in a Secret is safer and more flexible than putting it verbatim in a Pod definition or in a container image. You can use the secrets generated by K8ssandra components, or create your own secrets.

K8ssandra uses secrets to store credentials. For every set of credentials, K8ssandra supplies a default username and a default password. K8ssandra generates a random, alphanumeric string 20 characters long for the password. These values are stored under the username and password keys in the secret.

Like other objects installed as part of the Helm release, secrets will be deleted when you run helm uninstall.

Each K8ssandra component (each deployment) has a username property to override the default username:

  • Cassandra - cassandra.auth.superuser.name
  • Stargate - stargate.cassandraUser.username
  • Reaper - reaper.cassandraUser.username
  • Medusa - medusa.cassandraUser.username

Alternatively, you can provide your own secret for each component:

  • Cassandra - cassandra.auth.superuser.secret
  • Stargate - stargate.cassandraUser.secret
  • Reaper - reaper.cassandraUser.secret
  • Medusa - medusa.cassandraUser.secret

The secret must have username and password keys. The secret also needs to exist in the same namespace in which you are installing K8ssandra.

Because the secret is created outside of the Helm release, it is not managed by Helm. Running helm uninstall will not delete the secret.

JMX configuration and access

By default, Cassandra restricts JMX access to localhost. The Reaper component that’s deployed by K8ssandra requires JMX access for managing repairs. When Reaper is enabled and deployed, K8ssandra enables and configures remote JMX access.

Remote Access

JMX access is configured in /etc/cassandra/cassandra-env.sh. The script checks the environment variable LOCAL_JMX to determine whether JMX access should be restricted to localhost. When Reaper is enabled, K8ssandra sets this LOCAL_JMX environment variable in the cassandra container to a value of no, in order to enable remote JMX access.

JMX authentication

Cassandra turns on JMX authentication by default when remote access is enabled. JMX credentials are stored in /etc/cassandra/jmxremote.password.

K8ssandra creates two sets of credentials - one for Reaper and one for the Cassandra default superuser.

Reaper

The username of the Reaper JMX user defaults to reaper. The password is a random, 20 character alphanumeric string. Credentials are stored in a secret. See the secrets section in this topic for an overview of how K8ssandra manages secrets. The username and secret can be overridden with the following properties:

  • reaper.jmx.username
  • reaper.jmx.secret

Cassandra default superuser

K8ssandra creates JMX credentials for the default superuser. The username and password are the same as those for Cassandra.

If you change the Cassandra superuser credentials through cqlsh for example, the JMX credentials are not updated to the new values. You need to update the credentials via helm upgrade in order for the change to propagate to JMX. There is an issue #323 to address the limitation.

nodetool

When JMX authentication is enabled, you need to specify the username and password options with nodetool, as follows:

nodetool -u <username> -pw <password> status

JMX authorization - not supported at this time

K8ssandra currently does not support JMX authorization. This issue is also covered in #323.

Next steps

Explore other K8ssandra tasks.

See the Reference topics for information about K8ssandra Helm charts, and a glossary.


Last modified November 23, 2021: Regenerated reference docs (#1204) (f1ef96a)