Securing Communication With Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Fabric supports for secure communication between nodes using TLS. TLS communication can use both one-way (server only) and two-way (server and client) authentication.

Configuring TLS for peers nodes

A peer node is both a TLS server and a TLS client. It is the former when another peer node, application, or the CLI makes a connection to it and the latter when it makes a connection to another peer node or orderer.

To enable TLS on a peer node set the following peer configuration properties:

  • peer.tls.enabled = true
  • peer.tls.cert.file = fully qualified path of the file that contains the TLS server certificate
  • peer.tls.key.file = fully qualified path of the file that contains the TLS server private key
  • peer.tls.rootcert.file = fully qualified path of the file that contains the certificate chain of the certificate authority(CA) that issued TLS server certificate

By default, TLS client authentication is turned off when TLS is enabled on a peer node. This means that the peer node will not verify the certificate of a client (another peer node, application, or the CLI) during a TLS handshake. To enable TLS client authentication on a peer node, set the peer configuration property peer.tls.clientAuthRequired to true and set the peer.tls.clientRootCAs.files property to the CA chain file(s) that contain(s) the CA certificate chain(s) that issued TLS certificates for your organization’s clients.

By default, a peer node will use the same certificate and private key pair when acting as a TLS server and client. To use a different certificate and private key pair for the client side, set the peer.tls.clientCert.file and peer.tls.clientKey.file configuration properties to the fully qualified path of the client certificate and key file, respectively.

TLS with client authentication can also be enabled by setting the following environment variables:

  • CORE_PEER_TLS_ENABLED = true
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CERT_FILE = fully qualified path of the server certificate
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_KEY_FILE = fully qualified path of the server private key
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_ROOTCERT_FILE = fully qualified path of the CA chain file
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTAUTHREQUIRED = true
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTROOTCAS_FILES = fully qualified path of the CA chain file
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTCERT_FILE = fully qualified path of the client certificate
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTKEY_FILE = fully qualified path of the client key

When client authentication is enabled on a peer node, a client is required to send its certificate during a TLS handshake. If the client does not send its certificate, the handshake will fail and the peer will close the connection.

When a peer joins a channel, root CA certificate chains of the channel members are read from the config block of the channel and are added to the TLS client and server root CAs data structure. So, peer to peer communication, peer to orderer communication should work seamlessly.

Configuring TLS for orderer nodes

To enable TLS on an orderer node, set the following orderer configuration properties:

  • General.TLS.Enabled = true
  • General.TLS.PrivateKey = fully qualified path of the file that contains the server private key
  • General.TLS.Certificate = fully qualified path of the file that contains the server certificate
  • General.TLS.RootCAs = fully qualified path of the file that contains the certificate chain of the CA that issued TLS server certificate

By default, TLS client authentication is turned off on orderer, as is the case with peer. To enable TLS client authentication, set the following config properties:

  • General.TLS.ClientAuthRequired = true
  • General.TLS.ClientRootCAs = fully qualified path of the file that contains the certificate chain of the CA that issued the TLS server certificate

TLS with client authentication can also be enabled by setting the following environment variables:

  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_ENABLED = true
  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_PRIVATEKEY = fully qualified path of the file that contains the server private key
  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_CERTIFICATE = fully qualified path of the file that contains the server certificate
  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_ROOTCAS = fully qualified path of the file that contains the certificate chain of the CA that issued TLS server certificate
  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_CLIENTAUTHREQUIRED = true
  • ORDERER_GENERAL_TLS_CLIENTROOTCAS = fully qualified path of the file that contains the certificate chain of the CA that issued TLS server certificate

Configuring TLS for the peer CLI

The following environment variables must be set when running peer CLI commands against a TLS enabled peer node or orderer:

  • CORE_PEER_TLS_ENABLED = true
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_ROOTCERT_FILE = fully qualified path of the file that contains cert chain of the CA that issued the TLS server cert

If TLS client authentication is also enabled on the remote server, the following variables must to be set in addition to those above:

  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTAUTHREQUIRED = true
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTCERT_FILE = fully qualified path of the client certificate
  • CORE_PEER_TLS_CLIENTKEY_FILE = fully qualified path of the client private key

Debugging TLS issues

Before debugging TLS issues, it is advisable to enable GRPC debug on both the TLS client and the server side to get additional information. To enable GRPC debug, set the environment variable CORE_LOGGING_GRPC to DEBUG.

If you see the error message remote error: tls: bad certificate on the client side, it usually means that the TLS server has enabled client authentication and the server either did not receive the correct client certificate or it received a client certificate that it does not trust. Make sure the client is sending its certificate and that it has been signed by one of the CA certificates trusted by the peer or orderer node.

If you see the error message remote error: tls: bad certificate in your chaincode logs, ensure that your chaincode has been built using the chaincode shim provided with Fabric v1.1 or newer. If your chaincode does not contain a vendored copy of the shim, deleting the chaincode container and restarting its peer will rebuild the chaincode container using the current shim version. If your chaincode vendored a previous version of the shim, review the documentation on how to Upgrade Chaincodes With Vendored Shim.