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Repair Hashicorp Vault on Kubernetes 1.21

Lot’s of users saw their Haschicorp Vault cluster broke: when updating to Kubernetes version >= 1.21.

In fact Kubernetes enabled Service Account Issuer Discovery to be more compliant with OIDC specs and therefore broke basic Vault Kubernetes auth configuration.

If you see this error and are on Kubernetes version >= 1.21 you are probably impacted:

2021-07-25T06:12:43.359Z [INFO]  sink.file: creating file sink
2021-07-25T06:12:43.359Z [INFO]  sink.file: file sink configured: path=/home/vault/.vault-token mode=-rw-r-----
2021-07-25T06:12:43.361Z [INFO]  sink.server: starting sink server
2021-07-25T06:12:43.361Z [INFO]  template.server: starting template server
2021-07-25T06:12:43.361Z [INFO]  auth.handler: starting auth handler
[INFO] (runner) creating new runner (dry: false, once: false)
2021-07-25T06:12:43.361Z [INFO]  auth.handler: authenticating
[INFO] (runner) creating watcher
2021-07-25T06:13:43.362Z [ERROR] auth.handler: error authenticating: error="context deadline exceeded" backoff=1s
2021-07-25T06:13:44.363Z [INFO]  auth.handler: authenticating

No worries as this is easily fixable, there are basically two options:

  • enable disable_iss_validation=true to bypass the new behavior (not recommended)

  • update your Vault Kubernetes auth config to be compliant with the new format by adding the issuer field to Kubernetes auth config (recommended)

The later is of course the way to go, but most of the issue tell you to add https://kubernetes.default.svc.cluster.local as an issuer but be careful this might not be the case in your cluster, especially if your are using managed Kubernetes clusters like AWS EKS which include a specific OIDC cluster issuer.

Update Vault configuration to be compliant with new specifications

This error is actually quite simple to fix and I’m just compiling here the conclusion of various issues I’ve stumble unto for the sake of history and archiving it here because navigating Github issues is not the more fun you can have in a day.

Let’s get our cluster issuer URL, this example use an EKS cluster which differs from vanilla self manage Kubernetes.

curl --silent \
  -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
  -X POST \
  -d '{"apiVersion": "authentication.k8s.io/v1", "kind": "TokenRequest"}' \
  | jq -r '.status.token' \
  | cut -d. -f2 \
  | base64 -d | jq .iss


That’s it let’s now update our Vault config, from inside a Vault pods:

vault write auth/kubernetes/config \
  token_reviewer_jwt="$(cat /var/run/secrets/kubernetes.io/serviceaccount/token)" \
  kubernetes_host="https://$KUBERNETES_PORT_443_TCP_ADDR:443" \
  kubernetes_ca_cert=@/var/run/secrets/kubernetes.io/serviceaccount/ca.crt \

Now you should be good to go and this nasty error should be gone.

This article is part of a new take on articles where we focus on various power user issues we encounter and try to sum up our investigation (basicaly we read Github Issues and stackoverflow for you).

Vault for AWS EKS, with KMS support out of the box is included in our awesome Terraform module terraform-kubernetes-addons which give you all the critical addons with the best default config you need to get a production ready EKS cluster. For the entire stack don’t hesitate to check our Terragrunt powered EKS solution

Don’t hesitate to reach us on Github or through our website if you need any help navigating the Kubernetes ecosystem for your projects.