About API keys

API keys are secure, long-lived UUIDs that clients provide when they send a request to your service. You might use API keys in the following scenarios:

  • You know the set of users that need access to your service. These users do not change often, or you have automation that easily generates or deletes the API key when the users do change.
  • You want direct control over how the credentials are generated and expire.

API keys in Gloo Mesh Enterprise

To secure your services with API keys, first provide Gloo Mesh Enterprise with your API keys in the form of Kubernetes secrets. Then in the external auth policy, you refer to the secrets in one of two ways.

  • Specify a label selector that matches the label of one or more API key secrets. Labels are the more flexible, scalable approach.
  • Refer to the name and namespace of each secret.

Gloo Mesh Enterprise matches a request to a route that is secured by the external auth policy. The request must have a valid API key in a header. You can configure the name of the expected header. If the header is missing, or the API key is invalid, Gloo Mesh Enterprise denies the request and returns a 401 response.

Internally, Gloo Mesh Enterprise maps API keys to user identities for all API keys in the system. The user identity for an API key is the name of the secret that has the API key. Gloo Mesh Enterprise adds the user identity to the request as a header, x-user-id by default. Gloo Mesh Enterprise can use this header in subsequent filters. Note that for security purposes, Gloo Mesh Enterprise sanitizes the header from the response before the response leaves the gateway proxy.

Before you begin

  1. Complete the multicluster getting started guide to set up the following testing environment.

    • Three clusters along with environment variables for the clusters and their Kubernetes contexts.
    • The Gloo meshctl CLI, along with other CLI tools such as kubectl and istioctl.
    • The Gloo management server in the management cluster, and the Gloo agents in the workload clusters.
    • Istio installed in the workload clusters.
    • A simple Gloo workspace setup.
  2. Install Bookinfo and other sample apps.
  3. Make sure that the external auth service is installed and running. If not, install the external auth service.

      kubectl get pods --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 -A -l app=ext-auth-service

Configure an external auth policy with an API key

Create the external auth policy that uses API keys to verify identity.

  1. From your API management tool such as Gloo Portal or Google Developer Portal, generate an API key to use for your app’s domain. For example, your key might be N2YwMDIxZTEtNGUzNS1jNzgzLTRkYjAtYjE2YzRkZGVmNjcy.

  2. Store the encoded API key and any additional data as a Kubernetes secret in the workload cluster that you want to create the external auth policy in. Make sure to use a label so that you can select the secret later.

      kubectl apply --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 -f - <<EOF
    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Secret
      name: user-id-12345
      namespace: bookinfo
        extauth: apikey
    type: extauth.solo.io/apikey
      api-key: N2YwMDIxZTEtNGUzNS1jNzgzLTRkYjAtYjE2YzRkZGVmNjcy
      user-id: user-id-12345
      user-email: user12345@email.com
  3. Create an external auth server to use for your policy. The following example refers directly to the default Gloo Mesh Enterprise external auth service, but you can also use a virtual destination instead. For more information, see External auth server setup.

      kubectl apply --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 -f - <<EOF
    apiVersion: admin.gloo.solo.io/v2
    kind: ExtAuthServer
      name: ext-auth-server
      namespace: bookinfo
          number: 8083
          cluster: $REMOTE_CLUSTER1
          name: ext-auth-service
          namespace: gloo-mesh-addons
  4. Create an external auth policy that uses the API key.

  kubectl --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 apply -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: security.policy.gloo.solo.io/v2
kind: ExtAuthPolicy
  name: ratings-apikey
  namespace: bookinfo
  - selector:
        app: ratings
      name: ext-auth-server
      namespace: bookinfo
      cluster: $REMOTE_CLUSTER1
      - apiKeyAuth:
          headerName: api-key
              name: user-email
              extauth: apikey

Review the following table to understand this configuration. For more information, see the API reference.

applyToDestinationsConfigure which destinations to apply the policy to, by using labels. Destinations can be a Kubernetes service, VirtualDestination, or ExternalService. If you do not specify any destinations or routes, the policy applies to all destinations in the workspace by default. If you do not specify any destinations but you do specify a route, the policy applies to the route but to no destinations.
serverThe external auth server to use for the policy.
apiKeyAuthConfigure the API key authentication details.
headerNameThe header that the Gloo Mesh Enterprise external auth server looks at to get the API key. If not set, the default api-key header name is used.
headersFromMetadataEntryAdditional headers from the secret metadata to add to the authenticated requests so that other external auth modules can perform additional validation checks. For example, you might configure the API key secret to include extra data such as the user email. The key in this field is the name of the header to add to the request. The value in this field is the key in the secret data field. That key’s value is injected as the header value. In this example, Gloo Mesh Enterprise adds an x-user-email header into authenticated requests, with the value of the user-email from the user-id-12345 secret (dXNlcjEyMzQ1QGVtYWlsLmNvbQ==) that other external auth modules can process, such as OPA. To find an example of combining API key and OPA to authenticate requests, see API key and OPA.
k8sSecretApikeyStorageThe label to match the policy with valid API key secrets. Any secrets that match the label are selected and can be used to authenticate requests. The API key secrets must be in the same workspace as the external auth server.

Verify the external auth API key policy

  1. Send a request to the app without authorization. Now, the request is blocked with a 401 response. Create a temporary curl pod in the bookinfo namespace, so that you can test the app setup. You can also use this method in Kubernetes 1.23 or later, but an ephemeral container might be simpler.

    1. Create the curl pod.
        kubectl run -it -n bookinfo --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 curl \
        --image=curlimages/curl:7.73.0 --rm  -- sh
    2. Send a request to the ratings app.
        curl -v -H "api-key: N2YwMDIxZTEtNGUzNS1jNzgzLTRkYjAtYjE2YzRkZGVmNjcy" http://ratings:9080/ratings/1
    3. Exit the temporary pod. The pod deletes itself.

    Example output:

       > GET /posts/1 HTTP/1.1
       > Host: foo
       > User-Agent: curl/7.54.0
       > Accept: */*
       < HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized
       < www-authenticate: API key is missing or invalid
       < date: Mon, 07 Oct 2019 19:28:14 GMT
       < server: envoy
       < content-length: 0
  2. Send another request to the app, this time with a header that has your API key data.

    1. Create the curl pod.
        kubectl run -it -n bookinfo --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1 curl \
        --image=curlimages/curl:7.73.0 --rm  -- sh
    2. Send a request to the ratings app.
        curl -v -H "api-key: N2YwMDIxZTEtNGUzNS1jNzgzLTRkYjAtYjE2YzRkZGVmNjcy" http://ratings:9080/ratings/1
    3. Exit the temporary pod. The pod deletes itself.

    You can reach the ratings app again!



You can optionally remove the resources that you set up as part of this guide.
  kubectl --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1  -n bookinfo delete Secret user-id-12345
kubectl --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1  -n bookinfo delete ExtAuthPolicy ratings-apikey
kubectl --context $REMOTE_CONTEXT1  -n bookinfo delete ExtAuthServer ext-auth-server