This post is written by Uma Ramadoss, Senior Specialist Solutions Architect, Integration.

Today, AWS Lambda is introducing mutual TLS (mTLS) authentication for Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (Amazon MSK) and self-managed Kafka as an event source.

Many customers use Amazon MSK for streaming data from multiple producers. Multiple subscribers can then consume the streaming data and build data pipelines, analytics, and data integration. To learn more, read Using Amazon MSK as an event source for AWS Lambda.

You can activate any combination of authentication modes (mutual TLS, SASL SCRAM, or IAM access control) on new or existing clusters. This is useful if you are migrating to a new authentication mode or must run multiple authentication modes simultaneously. Lambda natively supports consuming messages from both self-managed Kafka and Amazon MSK through event source mapping.

By default, the TLS protocol only requires a server to authenticate itself to the client. The authentication of the client to the server is managed by the application layer. The TLS protocol also offers the ability for the server to request that the client send an X.509 certificate to prove its identity. This is called mutual TLS as both parties are authenticated via certificates with TLS.

Mutual TLS is a commonly used authentication mechanism for business-to-business (B2B) applications. It’s used in standards such as Open Banking, which enables secure open API integrations for financial institutions. It is one of the popular authentication mechanisms for customers using Kafka.

To use mutual TLS authentication for your Kafka-triggered Lambda functions, you provide a signed client certificate, the private key for the certificate, and an optional password if the private key is encrypted. This establishes a trust relationship between Lambda and Amazon MSK or self-managed Kafka. Lambda supports self-signed server certificates or server certificates signed by a private certificate authority (CA) for self-managed Kafka. Lambda trusts the Amazon MSK certificate by default as the certificates are signed by Amazon Trust Services CAs.

This blog post explains how to set up a Lambda function to process messages from an Amazon MSK cluster using mutual TLS authentication.

Overview

Using Amazon MSK as an event source operates in a similar way to using Amazon SQS or Amazon Kinesis. You create an event source mapping by attaching Amazon MSK as event source to your Lambda function.

The Lambda service internally polls for new records from the event source, reading the messages from one or more partitions in batches. It then synchronously invokes your Lambda function, sending each batch as an event payload. Lambda continues to process batches until there are no more messages in the topic.

The Lambda function’s event payload contains an array of records. Each array item contains details of the topic and Kafka partition identifier, together with a timestamp and base64 encoded message.

Kafka event payload

Kafka event payload

You store the signed client certificate, the private key for the certificate, and an optional password if the private key is encrypted in the AWS Secrets Manager as a secret. You provide the secret in the Lambda event source mapping.

The steps for using mutual TLS authentication for Amazon MSK as event source for Lambda are:

  1. Create a private certificate authority (CA) using AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) Private Certificate Authority (PCA).
  2. Create a client certificate and private key. Store them as secret in AWS Secrets Manager.
  3. Create an Amazon MSK cluster and a consuming Lambda function using the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM).
  4. Attach the event source mapping.

This blog walks through these steps in detail.

Prerequisites

1. Creating a private CA.

To use mutual TLS client authentication with Amazon MSK, create a root CA using AWS ACM Private Certificate Authority (PCA). We recommend using independent ACM PCAs for each MSK cluster when you use mutual TLS to control access. This ensures that TLS certificates signed by PCAs only authenticate with a single MSK cluster.

  1. From the AWS Certificate Manager console, choose Create a Private CA.
  2. In the Select CA type panel, select Root CA and choose Next.
  3. Select Root CA

    Select Root CA

  4. In the Configure CA subject name panel, provide your certificate details, and choose Next.
  5. Provide your certificate details

    Provide your certificate details

  6. From the Configure CA key algorithm panel, choose the key algorithm for your CA and choose Next.
  7. Configure CA key algorithm

    Configure CA key algorithm

  8. From the Configure revocation panel, choose any optional certificate revocation options you require and choose Next.
  9. Configure revocation

    Configure revocation

  10. Continue through the screens to add any tags required, allow ACM to renew certificates, review your options, and confirm pricing. Choose Confirm and create.
  11. Once the CA is created, choose Install CA certificate to activate your CA. Configure the validity of the certificate and the signature algorithm and choose Next.
  12. Configure certificate

    Configure certificate

  13. Review the certificate details and choose Confirm and install. Note down the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the private CA for the next section.
  14. Review certificate details

    Review certificate details

2. Creating a client certificate.

You generate a client certificate using the root certificate you previously created, which is used to authenticate the client with the Amazon MSK cluster using mutual TLS. You provide this client certificate and the private key as AWS Secrets Manager secrets to the AWS Lambda event source mapping.

  1. On your local machine, run the following command to create a private key and certificate signing request using OpenSSL. Enter your certificate details. This creates a private key file and a certificate signing request file in the current directory.
  2. openssl req -new -newkey rsa:2048 -days 365 -keyout key.pem -out client_cert.csr -nodes
    OpenSSL create a private key and certificate signing request

    OpenSSL create a private key and certificate signing request

  3. Use the AWS CLI to sign your certificate request with the private CA previously created. Replace Private-CA-ARN with the ARN of your private CA. The certificate validity value is set to 300, change this if necessary. Save the certificate ARN provided in the response.
  4. aws acm-pca issue-certificate --certificate-authority-arn Private-CA-ARN --csr fileb://client_cert.csr --signing-algorithm "SHA256WITHRSA" --validity Value=300,Type="DAYS"
  5. Retrieve the certificate that ACM signed for you. Replace the Private-CA-ARN and Certificate-ARN with the ARN you obtained from the previous commands. This creates a signed certificate file called client_cert.pem.
  6. aws acm-pca get-certificate --certificate-authority-arn Private-CA-ARN --certificate-arn Certificate-ARN | jq -r '.Certificate + "\n" + .CertificateChain' >> client_cert.pem
  7. Create a new file called secret.json with the following structure
  8. { "certificate":"", "privateKey":""
    }
    
  9. Copy the contents of the client_cert.pem in certificate and the content of key.pem in privatekey. Ensure that there are no extra spaces added. The file structure looks like this:
  10. Certificate file structure

    Certificate file structure

  11. Create the secret and save the ARN for the next section.
aws secretsmanager create-secret --name msk/mtls/lambda/clientcert --secret-string file://secret.json

3. Setting up an Amazon MSK cluster with AWS Lambda as a consumer.

Amazon MSK is a highly available service, so it must be configured to run in a minimum of two Availability Zones in your preferred Region. To comply with security best practice, the brokers are usually configured in private subnets in each Region.

You can use AWS CLI, AWS Management Console, AWS SDK and AWS CloudFormation to create the cluster and the Lambda functions. This blog uses AWS SAM to create the infrastructure and the associated code is available in the GitHub repository.

The AWS SAM template creates the following resources:

  1. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
  2. Amazon MSK cluster with mutual TLS authentication.
  3. Lambda function for consuming the records from the Amazon MSK cluster.
  4. IAM roles.
  5. Lambda function for testing the Amazon MSK integration by publishing messages to the topic.

The VPC has public and private subnets in two Availability Zones with the private subnets configured to use a NAT Gateway. You can also set up VPC endpoints with PrivateLink to allow the Amazon MSK cluster to communicate with Lambda. To learn more about different configurations, see this blog post.

The Lambda function requires permission to describe VPCs and security groups, and manage elastic network interfaces to access the Amazon MSK data stream. The Lambda function also needs two Kafka permissions: kafka:DescribeCluster and kafka:GetBootstrapBrokers. The policy template AWSLambdaMSKExecutionRole includes these permissions. The Lambda function also requires permission to get the secret value from AWS Secrets Manager for the secret you configure in the event source mapping.

 ConsumerLambdaFunctionRole: Type: AWS::IAM::Role Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Principal: Service: lambda.amazonaws.com Action: sts:AssumeRole ManagedPolicyArns: - arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/service-role/AWSLambdaMSKExecutionRole Policies: - PolicyName: SecretAccess PolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: "SecretsManager:GetSecretValue" Resource: "*"

This release adds two new SourceAccessConfiguration types to the Lambda event source mapping:

1. CLIENT_CERTIFICATE_TLS_AUTH – (Amazon MSK, Self-managed Apache Kafka) The Secrets Manager ARN of your secret key containing the certificate chain (PEM), private key (PKCS#8 PEM), and private key password (optional) used for mutual TLS authentication of your Amazon MSK/Apache Kafka brokers. A private key password is required if the private key is encrypted.

2. SERVER_ROOT_CA_CERTIFICATE – This is only for self-managed Apache Kafka. This contains the Secrets Manager ARN of your secret containing the root CA certificate used by your Apache Kafka brokers in PEM format. This is not applicable for Amazon MSK as Amazon MSK brokers use public AWS Certificate Manager certificates which are trusted by AWS Lambda by default.

Deploying the resources:

To deploy the example application:

  1. Clone the GitHub repository
  2. git clone https://github.com/aws-samples/aws-lambda-msk-mtls-integration.git
  3. Navigate to the aws-lambda-msk-mtls-integration directory. Copy the client certificate file and the private key file to the producer lambda function code.
  4. cd aws-lambda-msk-mtls-integration
    cp ../client_cert.pem code/producer/client_cert.pem
    cp ../key.pem code/producer/client_key.pem
  5. Navigate to the code directory and build the application artifacts using the AWS SAM build command.
  6. cd code
    sam build
  7. Run sam deploy to deploy the infrastructure. Provide the Stack Name, AWS Region, ARN of the private CA created in section 1. Provide additional information as required in the sam deploy and deploy the stack.
  8. sam deploy -g
    Running sam deploy -g

    Running sam deploy -g

    The stack deployment takes about 30 minutes to complete. Once complete, note the output values.

  9. Create the event source mapping for the Lambda function. Replace the CONSUMER_FUNCTION_NAME and MSK_CLUSTER_ARN from the output of the stack created by the AWS SAM template. Replace SECRET_ARN with the ARN of the AWS Secrets Manager secret created previously.
  10. aws lambda create-event-source-mapping --function-name CONSUMER_FUNCTION_NAME --batch-size 10 --starting-position TRIM_HORIZON --topics exampleTopic --event-source-arn MSK_CLUSTER_ARN --source-access-configurations '[{"Type": "CLIENT_CERTIFICATE_TLS_AUTH","URI": "SECRET_ARN"}]'
  11. Navigate one directory level up and configure the producer function with the Amazon MSK broker details. Replace the PRODUCER_FUNCTION_NAME and MSK_CLUSTER_ARN from the output of the stack created by the AWS SAM template.
  12. cd ../
    ./setup_producer.sh MSK_CLUSTER_ARN PRODUCER_FUNCTION_NAME
  13. Verify that the event source mapping state is enabled before moving on to the next step. Replace UUID from the output of step 5.
  14. aws lambda get-event-source-mapping --uuid UUID
  15. Publish messages using the producer. Replace PRODUCER_FUNCTION_NAME from the output of the stack created by the AWS SAM template. The following command creates a Kafka topic called exampleTopic and publish 100 messages to the topic.
  16. ./produce.sh PRODUCER_FUNCTION_NAME exampleTopic 100
  17. Verify that the consumer Lambda function receives and processes the messages by checking in Amazon CloudWatch log groups. Navigate to the log group by searching for aws/lambda/{stackname}-MSKConsumerLambda in the search bar.
Consumer function log stream

Consumer function log stream

Conclusion

Lambda now supports mutual TLS authentication for Amazon MSK and self-managed Kafka as an event source. You now have the option to provide a client certificate to establish a trust relationship between Lambda and MSK or self-managed Kafka brokers. It supports configuration via the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, AWS SDK, and AWS CloudFormation.

To learn more about how to use mutual TLS Authentication for your Kafka triggered AWS Lambda function, visit AWS Lambda with self-managed Apache Kafka and Using AWS Lambda with Amazon MSK.