Using self-signed certificates in CloudBees CI on Kubernetes

7 minute read

CloudBees CI includes an option called sidecar injector. This option lets you use a self-signed certificate or a custom certificate authority (CA) to access internal HTTPS services, such as an SCM repository or an artifact repository.

Sidecar injector is designed only to trust services that are secured with custom or self-signed certificates. It is not intended to be used to secure a CloudBees CI cluster using HTTPS and should not be set up for that purpose.

Using sidecar injector provides the following benefits:

  • Satisfies the enterprise security policies for organizations that use custom certificate authorities.

  • Removes the cost of purchasing commercially signed certificates for internal websites.

  • Saves time because organizations don’t have to wait for signed certificates.

To use sidecar injector, create a certificate bundle that overwrites the default certificate bundle. Then, set up sidecar injector to inject that certificate bundle into all containers of all scheduled Kubernetes pods in a labeled namespace.

Prerequisites for using self-signed certificates on Kubernetes

Sidecar injector requires a currently supported version of Kubernetes. For more information, refer to Kubernetes.

Sidecar injector version 2.2.0 requires Kubernetes version 1.21 or later. If you run one of the older supported versions of Kubernetes, you should install sidecar injector version 2.1.3. However, to perform a Helm installation requires sidecar injector version 2.2.0 or later.

The prerequisites for using self-signed certificates on Kubernetes are as follows:

  • Certificate files to install using this feature.

  • The MutatingAdmissionWebhook admission controller must be enabled.

    To check whether it is enabled for your cluster, start by running the following command:

    kubectl api-versions | grep

    The result should be:

    This means the APIs are available on your cluster.

  • In addition, you must add the MutatingAdmissionWebhook and ValidatingAdmissionWebhook admission controllers and list them in the correct order in the enable-admission-plugins flag of kube-apiserver. The way to check this depends on the Kubernetes distribution.

    For public cloud offerings, such as Amazon EKS, AKS, or GKE, they are enabled. For other distributions, check the corresponding documentation or ask the provider to determine whether the admission controllers are available.

    When your prerequisites are complete, you are ready to begin installing self-signed certificates on Kubernetes.

Network requirements

The sidecar injector listens to HTTPS requests on port 443, and the firewall rules of that port must be configured accordingly:

From To Port Description

Kubernetes Control Plane

Kubernetes Node(s)


Allow Kubernetes control plane to communicate with sidecar-injector pod(s)

Kubernetes Node(s)

Kubernetes Control Plane


Allow incoming requests from sidecar-injector pod(s)

In environments where aggregator routing is enabled, the API Server routes the webhook requests directly to the Sidecar Injector Endpoint that listens on port 8443, rather than the Kubernetes Service that listens on port 443. In such environments, the firewall rules must allow the Kubernetes control plane to communicate with Kubernetes node(s) on the port 8443.

Installing self-signed certificates on Kubernetes

This procedure requires a context with cluster-admin privilege to create the MutatingWebhookConfiguration.

Sidecar Injector is delivered as a Helm chart. It can be installed either directly using Helm or as a yaml manifest produced by helm template.

You may have previously used a different method for setting up self-signed certificates. If so, please refer to our article detailing that process to undo those changes before continuing here.

Creating a certificate bundle

These instructions assume you are working in the namespace where CloudBees CI is installed, and that the certificate you want to install is named mycertificate.pem.

If you are using a self-signed certificate, add the certificate itself. You can download the certificate using the following command (change to the site that is not trusted by the JVM):

openssl s_client -showcerts -connect </dev/null 2>/dev/null | openssl x509 -outform PEM > mycertificate.pem

If the certificate has been issued from a custom root CA, add the root CA itself.

  1. Copy reference files locally:

    On CloudBees CI or newer, run the following:

    kubectl cp cjoc-0:etc/pki/ca-trust/extracted/pem/tls-ca-bundle.pem ./ca-certificates.crt kubectl cp cjoc-0:etc/pki/ca-trust/extracted/java/cacerts ./cacerts

    On earlier versions, or when overriding the Docker image selection to use the Alpine base, run the following:

    kubectl cp cjoc-0:etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt ./ca-certificates.crt kubectl cp cjoc-0:etc/ssl/certs/java/cacerts ./cacerts

    Alternatively, if you do not have an operations center pod running, you can retrieve the files from the image without deploying in Kubernetes.

    You must have a working docker installation.

    You can then run:

    CBCI_VERSION="2.319.3.3" CONTAINER_ID=$(docker create cloudbees/cloudbees-cloud-core-oc:${CBCI_VERSION}) # adapt for each file you need to retrieve docker cp ${CONTAINER_ID}:/etc/pki/ca-trust/extracted/pem/tls-ca-bundle.pem ./ca-certificates.crt docker cp ${CONTAINER_ID}:/etc/pki/ca-trust/extracted/java/cacerts ./cacerts docker rm ${CONTAINER_ID}
  2. Add root CA to system certificate bundle:

    cat mycertificate.pem >> ca-certificates.crt
  3. Add root CA to Java cacerts:

    keytool -import -noprompt -keystore cacerts -file mycertificate.pem -storepass changeit -alias service-mycertificate;
    Make sure that mycertificate.pem contains only one certificate. keytool does not support importing multiple certificates from a single file.
  4. Create a configmap with the two files above in your namespace.

  5. Change mynamespace in this command to the namespace you would like to use for the sidecar injector. For example, run the following for the namespace(s) that your operations center, controllers, and agents are running in:

    kubectl create configmap --from-file=ca-certificates.crt,cacerts ca-bundles -n mynamespace

    You have created the certificate bundle. You are now ready to install the CloudBees CI and Kubernetes cluster.

Setting up the sidecar injector on Kubernetes using Helm

This procedure sets up sidecar injector on Kubernetes using Helm.

To set up sidecar injector using Helm:

  1. Run the command below to create a namespace to deploy the sidecar injector.

    kubectl create namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector
  2. Install sidecar-injector using one of the following:

    The Helm command:

    helm repo update helm install cloudbees-sidecar-injector cloudbees/cloudbees-sidecar-injector --namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector

    The Helm template command (depending on the Kubernetes version, you may also need to pass --api-versions for your targeted Kubernetes API versions, as per

    helm template cloudbees-sidecar-injector cloudbees/cloudbees-sidecar-injector --namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector | kubectl apply -n cloudbees-sidecar-injector -f -
  3. Run the command below to verify everything is running:

    kubectl --namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector get pods

    The cloudbees-sidecar-injector pod should be running, and the output should be similar to:

    NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE cloudbees-sidecar-injector-bbb689d69-882dd 1/1 Running 0 5m
  4. Run the command below to verify that the deployment has one pod running and is up-to-date:

    kubectl --namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector get deployment

    The output should be similar to:

    NAME DESIRED CURRENT UP-TO-DATE AVAILABLE AGE cloudbees-sidecar-injector 1 1 1 1 5m

    Setup of sidecar injector on Kubernetes using Helm is complete. You are now ready to configure a namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes.

Configuring a namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes

This process configures a namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes.

  1. Label the namespace where CloudBees CI is installed with sidecar-injector=enabled.

    In the command below, replace "mynamespace" with the name of your namespace. For example, if your namespace is "cb", use the command kubectl label namespace cb sidecar-injector=enabled. This causes pods that start in that namespace to have the sidecar injected.

    If you configure sidecar injector to use its own namespace, make sure that the namespace does not contain the sidecar-injector=enabled label.

    kubectl label namespace mynamespace sidecar-injector=enabled
  2. Check the following:

    kubectl get namespace -L sidecar-injector

    The output should be similar to:

    NAME STATUS AGE SIDECAR-INJECTOR cloudbees-sidecar-injector Active 1h default Active 18h kube-public Active 18h kube-system Active 18h mynamespace Active 18h enabled

Verifying the namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes

This process allows you to verify the namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes.

  1. Deploy an app in the Kubernetes cluster, take sleep app as an example. Run the command below.

    kubectl run sleep -n mynamespace --generator=run-pod/v1 --image alpine --serviceaccount default --command /bin/sleep infinity
  2. Run the following command to verify injection.

    kubectl get pods -n mynamespace -o 'go-template={{range .items}}{{}}{{"\n"}}{{range $key,$value := .metadata.annotations}}* {{$key}}: {{$value}}{{"\n"}}{{end}}{{"\n"}}{{end}}'

    The output should be similar to:

    sleep * com.cloudbees.sidecar-injector/status: injected
  3. Run the command below to delete the sleep pod.

    kubectl delete pod sleep -n mynamespace

    You have verified the namespace for sidecar injector on Kubernetes.

Applying the certificate bundle

After you have completed the setup for sidecar injector, you can use your custom CA across your cluster.

To apply the new certificate bundle:

  1. Use kubectl delete pod cjoc-0 --namespace mynamespace to restart the operations center and the pod.

  2. Restart any running managed controllers.

When you schedule new build agents, the certificate bundle is automatically applied and permits connection to remote endpoints using your certificates.

To add more certificates to the bundle, delete the ca-bundles configmap, re-create it with the new certificates, and restart the pods as described above.

Advanced configuration for sidecar injector on Kubernetes

Disabling injection on a specific pod

To disable implicit injection for a specific pod, annotate it with com.cloudbees.sidecar-injector/inject: no.

Making injection explicit

By default, injection is implicit and applies to all pods created in the labeled namespace(s). However, you can alternately enable injection on only the pod(s) that explicitly require it.

To make injection explicit for a given pod:

  1. Edit the sidecar-injector-webhook-configmap configmap and specify requiresExplicitInjection: true.

  2. To enable injection on a specific pod, annotate the pod with com.cloudbees.sidecar-injector/inject: yes.

Troubleshooting self-signed certificates on Kubernetes

The sleep pod can’t be created

There is an error on pod creation, such as "certificate signed by unknown authority," or the sidecar-injector logs contain the following: http: TLS handshake error from aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd:nnnnn: remote error: tls: bad certificate.

This can happen if the API server TLS certificate differs from the cluster signing certificate. To fix this issue, you must provide the cluster signing certificate as an input to the installation.

Create a values.yaml file as follows. Replace the content with your own certificate.

caBundleCrt: |- -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- MIICyDCCAbCgAwIBAgIBADANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQsFADAVMRMwEQYDVQQDEwprdWJl cm5ldGVzMB4XDTE5MDcyOTA3MzQyMloXDTI5MDcyNjA3MzQyMlowFTETMBEGA1UE AxMKa3ViZXJuZXRlczCCASIwDQYJKoZIhvcNAQEBBQADggEPADCCAQoCggEBALgQ fjIm8iVEpmX3tlcUzuH2BAQGzK0utC6S0hhqnK6zlQ9iGDAwDpAiwGB9VzcJSfK7 fr3rx4zT9rWfVeot+ARQV/NPxSUpPlGK8WsRleg5wKyUdnE1xKZDly2l2Vpqlr0J GnMXb2A0roi685XZo6iQALLfo+rtWQ2y2JLXzGYYCB1sAUX3hM3qbYmIMReBIyMX YGUUdaMuWU1YazKy3eJ84Am7l9ZXlMm7infJlAFsM3BCKed9ZxO2KxTvhWv1qbUk Bj3GJrL2bJfQi3B6h0piiBDt6YeI3U8yU4EyxtMKQwQXs9T1zHloc6RmVGYYVAEl HquW/XIk4ebWTxYND6UCAwEAAaMjMCEwDgYDVR0PAQH/BAQDAgKkMA8GA1UdEwEB /wQFMAMBAf8wDQYJKoZIhvcNAQELBQADggEBABsJvnyo14a8FR6y4JGSX1SXSmtS uRiWH6qo5Ou+4zIw0LIhDQTtaN44G86BzhvQFdeQzfvyrKXfuYUTOQz/iYPNFsO6 FOcDg9EcA19n5tSGp8SniyDEe6EhBWa5A9UR2RPEg/8NZRoeZ/2G9SjUqoa/Erxn IPlZvNu+gMEK7etysUQ33s4fp+jD6p0pbWKgSQAiDRVHi3Khlhcn7DfM0ncrSQBs vgFPSEczjpl8LR6c0pLSdPUHgdK6pDLTYdtdytRNfJAVjAREYL4uSb8I5NKdkgEz BLvnDfdDoCeOZoaeLR68jCltNfdzT5/d1v086i7uRepGhQ5w7ehtPuZ+0U8= -----END CERTIFICATE-----

Then, run the installation again.

helm delete cloudbees-sidecar-injector helm install cloudbees-sidecar-injector cloudbees/cloudbees-sidecar-injector --namespace cloudbees-sidecar-injector --values values.yaml

The sleep pod is created but stays in ContainerCreating state

This process allows you to create a sleep pod that is not in the ContainerCreating state.

To create the sleep pod:

  1. Describe the pod by running the following:

    kubectl describe po sleep

    You may get an error like the following:

    Warning FailedMount 2s (x3 over 3s) kubelet, docker-desktop MountVolume.SetUp failed for volume "bundles" : configmap "ca-bundles" not found
  2. If so, verify that you created the certificate bundle mentioned above. Also check that you are working in the expected namespace.

  3. You must create a configmap named ca-bundles in each namespace with which you want to use sidecar injector.

    You have created a sleep pod that is not in the ContainerCreating state.