Tutorial: Configuring Security via Service-to-Service Communication


In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how to restrict HTTP traffic within our mesh based on service identity.

Prerequisites for this tutorial:


Service-to-Service Communication

Whenever two injected Kubernetes pods communicate with each other, all traffic is routed through their sidecar proxies. This enables SuperGloo to apply security policies which disable undesired communication channels. This is achieved through the use of SuperGloo SecurityRules.


A SecurityRule is a Kubernetes Custom Resource that sets restrictions on HTTP traffic between pods in your meshes. Each SecurtiyRule provides selectors to indicate the source pods which are allowed to send HTTP requests and the destination pods to which they can be sent.

Note: If using SuperGloo with Istio, pods that share a service account will have the same set of permissions. To enable fine-grained policies with Istio, ensure that all of your pods have individual service accounts.

When no SecurityRules are present in your cluster, all traffic will be whitelisted between services. However, when one or more SecurityRules are created, all communication that is not explicitly whitelisted within a SecurityRule will be met with a 403 Forbidden response from the sidecar.

SuperGloo resources can be easily created using the CLI, but can also be created, updated, and deleted using .yaml files and kubectl. It is our recommendation that you begin with the CLI in interactive mode to become familiar with our APIs, but use version-controlled YAML files to persist and manage production configuration.

Let’s take a look at an example SecurityRule:

apiVersion: supergloo.solo.io/v1
kind: SecurityRule
  name: productpage-to-reviews
  namespace: supergloo-system
  - GET
  - /details/*
      - name: default-reviews-9080
        namespace: supergloo-system
      - name: default-productpage-9080
        namespace: supergloo-system
    name: istio-istio-system
    namespace: supergloo-system

The above routing rule says to only permit those requests:

Note: Upstreams will be automatically created in Supergloo’s installation namespace by the discovery pod, which is why the namespace on the Upstream refs above says supergloo-system. The namespace in which the service represents can be different than that where the Upstream lives. For more information, see the Kubernetes Upstream Spec.

Once a single SecurityRule is created, each one acts as a whitelist for traffic, causing all other traffic to be blacklisted.


Now we’ll demonstrate SecurityRules using the Bookinfo app.

First, ensure you’ve:

Now let’s open our view of the Product Page UI In our browser with the help of kubectl port-forward. Run the following command in another terminal window or the background:

kubectl --namespace default port-forward deployment/productpage-v1 9080

Open your browser to http://localhost:9080/productpage:

Bookinfo Product Page

You’ll see the Book Details and Book Reviews subsections of our landing page are working correctly. The productpage service which we are connected to queries the details, reviews, and ratings services to populate the HTML elements you see on the page.

We’ll use some SecurityRules to show how we can restrict/enable the productpage microservice communication with the other 3 services.

Let’s start by creating a SecurityRule. This rule will automatically deny all unless it is sent from the workloads/identities selected with the ‘source’ selector intended for those selected by the ‘destination’ selector.” Traffic flows will be only allowed if we explicitly whitelist it in one or more SecurityRules.

The application of SecurityRule logic by SuperGloo depends on the underlying mesh implementation. SuperGloo uses Istio’s RBAC API under the hood to achieve traffic control.

Run the following command to create the SecurityRule in interactive mode:

# run supergloo cli in interactive mode
supergloo apply securityrule --interactive
? name for the Security Rule:  enable-security
? namespace for the Security Rule:  default
? create a source selector for this rule?  [y/N]:  y
? what kind of selector would you like to create?  Upstream Selector
? add an upstream (choose <done> to finish):  supergloo-system.default-productpage-9080
? add an upstream (choose <done> to finish):  <done>
? create a destination selector for this rule?  [y/N]:  Y
? what kind of selector would you like to create?  Upstream Selector
? add an upstream (choose <done> to finish):  supergloo-system.default-productpage-9080
? add an upstream (choose <done> to finish):  <done>
? select a target mesh to which to apply this rule supergloo-system.istio
? enter a comma-separated list of HTTP methods to allow for this rule, e.g.: GET,POST,PATCH (leave empty to allow all):
? enter a comma-separated list of HTTP paths to allow for this rule, e.g.: /api,/admin,/auth (leave empty to allow all):

Now that we’ve created our first SecurityRule, Access-Control should be enforced in our cluster. Now try refreshing the Product Page.

Note: it may take up to a minute for configuration to propagate to all the Istio sidecars.

We should see that the details and reviews sections of the UI have turned into error messages:

Bookinfo Product Page

This confirms that the productpage service can no longer send requests to details or reviews.

Let’s add a rule to permit the productpage to communicate with details.

Refresh the Product Page again. We should see a page like this:

Bookinfo Product Page

Communication has been enabled between productpage and details. Let’s amend our rules to permit productpage to reach any service in the default namespace:

Finally, refresh the Product Page a few more times. We should see everything working: the reviews, the details, and the color-changing ratings stars under the reviews:

Bookinfo Product Page

Note: Istio can take several minutes to update the caches on each sidecar proxy, which means that it may take time for each of the SecurityRules to go into effect.

To re-enable all traffic without applying security policies, simply delete the security rules we created:

kubectl --namespace default delete securityrule --all

Try refreshing the page again. We should soon see that the productpage is able to communicate with the backend services as before.