Let's Encrypt on HAProxy

Let's Encrypt on HAProxy

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CISEL

Published on Jul 30, 2021

4 min read

Using HAproxy as a reverse proxy in front of your webserver is very convinient. However managing public certificates can be sometimes a bit annoying. It is a common way to store SSL Certificate on the Haproxy and let him do the SSL termination. Then your backend webserver can run without certificate. This is very convinient.

In this article I will show you how to install and auto-renew a Let'sEncrypt certificate on your haproxy. You will need some basic understanding of haproxy.

Installing Certbot

As prerequisite you will need a domain name that target you haproxy IP. This is obvisouly to verify that the domain name is yours ;-)

Here is a little picture of what will be achieved at the end. HTTPS to haproxy with haproxy providing the LetsEncrypt certificate. Then Haproxy is forwarding traffic to the web server.

letsencrypt.PNG

First thing to do is to install certbot on the haproxy server. This little tool is in charge to emit and renew certificates. I am doing this example on Ubuntu 20.04.

Verify that you snapd service is up to date (snap is the way to install certbot, apt package is not maintaned anymore I guess):

sudo snap install core; sudo snap refresh core

Install certbot:

sudo snap install --classic certbot

The Flow

You can ask 2 thing from Let'sEncrypt. Request a new certificate or renew and existing one. Wil will first request a new certificate and then automate the renewal process.

To request your new certificate on your HAproxy, you need to make it accessible via http port 80 from the internet. Let'sEncrypt, with the help of certbot, will verify that you own the domain by asking for a token at a specific URL. For example your domain name is foo.mydomain.com, Let'sEncrypt will try to access to foo.mydomain.com/.well-known/acme-challenge... If it access this url successfully, then it will validated the certificate request. Note that it will happen on port 80 as you have no valid certificate yet.

As our haproxy is not a web server, we will use a little trick with certbot. with a magic parameter, certbot will act as a mini-webserver to provide the request page by LetsEncrypt using a specific port (in order not to create conflict with another service using port 80). Let's make a littl haproxy configuration here.

in /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg

#frontend listening on port 80
#fowarding http traffic to cerbot in case of path beginning by /.well-known/acme-challenge
#Otherwise taffic goes to the webapp
frontend my-web-app-fe
    bind *:80

    # letsencryp validation path for cert request
    acl letsencrypt-acl path_beg /.well-known/acme-challenge/
    use_backend letsencrypt-backend if letsencrypt-acl

    default_backend my-web-app-be

backend letsencrypt-backend
    server certbot 127.0.0.1:8899

backend my-web-app-be
    #any config omitted

You can validate syntax with:

 haproxy -c -V -f /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg

Do not forget to reload the config

 service haproxy reload

Request a new certificate

Use the command below to request your certificate for the first time:4

sudo certbot certonly --standalone -d your.domain.com --non-interactive --agree-tos --email your@email.com --http-01-port=8899

Nnote the parameter "--http-01-port=8899". This is the same port as our backend "letsencrypt-backend" in th haproxy.cfg. This parameter will make certbot generate a little local webserver running on port 8899 only to provide the validation token to letsencrypt. This is the magic trick i mentionned above.

Now 2 file have been created on /etc/letsencrypt

The full chain: /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/fullchain.pem The private key: /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/privkey.pem

We will concatenate these 2 files in one .pem fil that will be used in our haproxy config file.

cat /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/fullchain.pem /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/privkey.pem > /etc/ssl/your.domain.com.pem

To renew the certificate we have to adapt our haproxy config in order to listent on 443 with the correct certficate. Because when we will ask for renewal, letsencrypt will contact our server on https instead of simple http like before.

#frontend listening on port 80
#fowarding http traffic to cerbot in case of path beginning by /.well-known/acme-challenge
#Otherwise taffic goes to the webapp
frontend my-web-app-fe
    bind *:80
    #We need to listen on 443 for certificate renewal
    bind *:443 ssl crt /etc/ssl/encryptme.cisel4you.ch.pem

    # letsencryp validation path for cert request
    acl letsencrypt-acl path_beg /.well-known/acme-challenge/
    use_backend letsencrypt-backend if letsencrypt-acl

    default_backend my-web-app-be

backend letsencrypt-backend
    server certbot 127.0.0.1:8899

Again reload the config

service haproxy reload

Command to renew the certificate:

sudo certbot renew

note that if certificate will expire in more than a month it wont be renewed, except if you add the parameter --force-renewal

sudo certbot renew  --force-renewal

We will have to reconcatenate the fullchain.pem and the private key:

cat /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/fullchain.pem /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/privkey.pem > /etc/ssl/your.domain.com.pem

You can now create a little script to renew the certificate and concatenate the files in /opt/updatecerts.sh:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Renew the certificate
certbot renew #--force-renewal

# Concatenate new cert files
bash -c "cat /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/fullchain.pem /etc/letsencrypt/live/your.domain.com/privkey.pem > /etc/ssl/your.domain.com.pem"

# Reload  HAProxy config file, not sure if needed
service haproxy reload

Add it to your crontab (crontab -e)

0 1 * * * root bash /opt/updatecerts.sh

This will try to renew our certificate every day at 1AM.

This is it guys!

 
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