End User Authentication with Keycloak

In this how-to guide, you’ll add user authentication and authorization at an Ingress Gateway using Keycloak as the Identity Provider.

Before you get started, make sure you’ve

✓ Installed the TSB management plane
✓ Onboarded a cluster
✓ Installed Keycloak with HTTPS enabled

:::note This example will use a demo of the httpbin application that’s been tested on GKE. If you intend to follow these steps for production use, make sure you update the application information in the relevant fields with your information. :::

In this guide, you’ll:

✓ Add authentication and authorization to an Ingress Gateway for a demo httpbin application.
✓ Define two roles and two users: an admin user (called Jack) that can do everything, and a normal user (Sally) that can only do GET /status.
✓ Configure your Ingress Gateway to allow all access to the admin role and only GET /status to a normal role.
✓ Log in with each user and validate whether the admin user Jack, can access everything and user Sally who has the normal role is only able to GET /status

What is an OpenID provider?

An OpenID provider is an OAuth 2.0 authorization server which offers authentication as a service. It ensures the end-user is authenticated and provides claims about the end-user, and the authentication event to the client application. In this example, you’ll use Keycloak as the OpenID Provider. You can replicate similar steps with other OpenID providers such as Auth0 or Okta.

:::note In this how-to, we will use https://keycloak.example.com as our Keycloak URL. You should change this to your own Keycloak URL. :::

Configuring Keycloak as an OpenID provider

Login to the Keycloak admin interface.

:::note If you already have the Realm, Roles and Users created, go straight to the Client section. :::


Start by creating Realm. If this is your first time logging in to Keycloak, you’ll have a default master Realm. This is used to manage access to the Keycloak interface and should not be used to configure your open ID provider. So you’ll need to create a new realm.

  1. Click the Add Realm button
  2. Set the Realm name – in this example it’s tetrate.
  3. Click Create


In the created Realm, add two new Roles: admin and normal.

  1. Click Roles in the left side menu
  2. Select the Add Role button
  3. Set the name as admin
  4. Click Save
  5. Add another Role with name normal following the same steps as above


Add two users – Jack and Sally – and map them to their new roles:

  1. Click Users in the left side menu
  2. Select the Add user button
  3. Fill the details for Jack
  4. Click Save
  5. Select the Credentials tab
  6. Set a password for Jack
  7. Click Role Mappings tab
  8. Add the admin role
  9. Add another user with the name Sally and follow the steps above, adding a normal role in the Role Mappings tab


Clients are entities that can request Keycloak to authenticate a user. In this case, Keycloak will provide a Single Sign-On that a user will log in into, retrieve a JWT token, and use that token to authenticate to your Ingress Gateway managed by TSB.

Adding a new Client.

  1. Click Clients in the left side menu
  2. Select the Client Create button
  3. Client ID: tetrateapp
  4. Client Protocol: openid-connect
  5. Root URL: https://www.keycloak.org/app/, (https://www.keycloak.org/app/ is an SPA testing application available on the Keycloak website).
  6. Click Save

Then make some updates in the Client.

First, increase the token lifespan to ensure that it doesn’t expire too quickly, or during testing.

  1. In the Settings tab, scroll down, select Advanced Settings
  2. Set the Access Token Lifespan to 2 hours
  3. Click Save

Then, you need to add two mappers so that Keycloak can generate a JWT with data that you use in the TSB Ingress Gateway.

You’ll need to add two types of mappers - an Audience and a Role mapper:

Mappers Purpose
Audience mapper Adds a client id in the audience field in JWT token. This ensures that you can limit JWT to specific clients.
Role mappers Changes the role from nested struct to array in the JWT token. Currently, TSB cannot handle nested fields in JWT claims. This has been fixed in Istio 1.8 and will be added to TSB in future releases.
  1. Select the Mappers tab

  2. Click the Create button and enter the following information:

    • Name: Audience mapper
    • Mapper Type: Audience
    • Included Client Audience: tetrateapp
  3. Click Save

  4. Return to the Mappers tab

  5. Click on the Create button and enter the following information:

    • Name: Role mapper
    • Mapper Type: User Realm Role
    • Token Claim Name: roles
    • Claim JSON Type: String Leave multi-valued, add to ID token, Add to access token, and Add user info to ‘on'
  6. Click Save

Test User Sign In

Now you have your client configured, sign in and inspect your JWT token

  1. Go to https://www.keycloak.org/app/ and enter the following information:
  2. Click Save

To inspect the JWT token.

  1. Open the browser console
  2. Click on the Network tab
  3. Sign in with user Jack’s credentials.
  4. Look up a request to the token. In the response, get the access_token.
  5. Paste your token into https://jwt.io/

You’ll see the following information from your JWT token. You only need to note three fields that you’ll use in your Ingress Gateway configuration: iss, aud, and roles.

  "exp": 1606908135,
  "iat": 1606900935,
  "auth_time": 1606900917,
  "jti": "c1e45982-38c6-4d0d-b201-9d823eed4c0a",
  "iss": "https://keycloak.example.com/auth/realms/tetrate",
  "aud": [
  "sub": "06765a3f-b09f-4c46-a0f9-0285c3924409",
  "typ": "Bearer",
  "azp": "tetrateapp",
  "nonce": "f96cd9eb-af9e-4e41-8591-ffc01fd94dd0",
  "scope": "openid email profile",
  "email_verified": true,
  "roles": [
  "name": "Jack White",
  "preferred_username": "jack",
  "given_name": "Jack",
  "family_name": "White",
  "email": "[email protected]"

You can also get a user JWT token using OAuth’s Resource Owner Password Flow. This flow is enabled by default when you create a Keycloak Client.

curl --request POST \
    --url https://keycloak.example.com/auth/realms/tetrate/protocol/openid-connect/token \
    --header 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded' \
     --data client_id=tetrateapp \
     --data password=<user_password> \
     --data username=jack \
     --data grant_type=password \
     --data 'scope=openid email profile'

Deploying the Httpbin application with Ingress Gateway

Deploy the httpbin application along with the Ingress Gateway.

Create the following httpbin.yaml


Deploy httpbin using the kubectl commands to your onboarded clusters

kubectl create namespace httpbin
kubectl label namespace httpbin istio-injection=enabled --overwrite=true
kubectl apply -n httpbin -f httpbin.yaml

Confirm all services and pods are running

kubectl get pods -n httpbin

Create an Ingress Gateway ingress.yaml


Apply your changes

kubectl apply -n httpbin -f ingress.yaml

Confirm that all services and pods are running. Make sure that you wait until the Ingress Gateway has its external IP assigned.

kubectl get pods -n httpbin
kubectl get svc -n httpbin

Get the Ingress Gateway IP

export GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP=$(kubectl -n httpbin get service tsb-gateway-httpbin -o jsonpath='{.status.loadBalancer.ingress[0].ip}')

Configuring Workspaces and Ingress Gateway

Now that you have your application running, you need to create workspaces and configure your Ingress Gateway. You will need TSB running and tctl for this.

:::note If you run TSB demo install, you will have a default tenant named tetrate and a default cluster named demo which we use in the following configuration yamls. If you are using this in production, please change it to your own tenant and cluster. :::


Create a workspace.yaml


Apply your changes

tctl apply -f workspace.yaml

Make sure that the workspace is created

tctl get workspaces httpbin-ws

Expected output:


Next, create an Ingress Gateway to allow access to httpbin from outside the mesh. You’ll start with an insecure Gateway that has no authentication.


Create the following gateway-no-auth.yaml. In this example, httpbin-certs is already set for HTTPS connections.


Apply with tctl

tctl apply -f gateway-no-auth.yaml

Verify that you have a gateway created in the httpbin namespace

kubectl get gateway -n httpbin httpbin-gw-ingress -o yaml

Example output

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1beta1
kind: Gateway
    tsb.tetrate.io/fqn: tenants/tetrate/workspaces/httpbin-ws/gatewaygroups/httpbin-gw/ingressgateways/httpbin-gw-ingress
    xcp.tetrate.io/contentHash: ea6e317d90873ee3
  creationTimestamp: "2020-12-03T00:52:32Z"
  generation: 2
    xcp.tetrate.io/gatewayGroup: httpbin-gw
    xcp.tetrate.io/workspace: httpbin-ws
  name: httpbin-gw-ingress
  namespace: httpbin
  resourceVersion: "6006430"
  selfLink: /apis/networking.istio.io/v1beta1/namespaces/httpbin/gateways/httpbin-gw-ingress
  uid: ab0ad2d9-b3db-40ac-9926-0e440d7d8c85
    app: tsb-gateway-httpbin
  - hosts:
    - httpbin/httpbin.tetrate.com
      name: http-httpbin
      number: 8443
      protocol: HTTP
  - hosts:
    - httpbin/httpbin.tetrate.com
      name: mtls-httpbin
      number: 15443
      protocol: HTTPS
      mode: ISTIO_MUTUAL

Try to access the httpbin by sending it a request

export GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP=$(kubectl -n httpbin get service tsb-gateway-httpbin -o jsonpath='{.status.loadBalancer.ingress[0].ip}')
curl -k -v "https://httpbin.tetrate.com/get" \
    --resolve "httpbin.tetrate.com:443:${GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP}" 

Enabling Authentication and Authorization at Ingress

Now, add the authentication and authorization to your Ingress Gateway by creating the following gateway-with-auth.yaml


Notice that in the authentication block – the audiences are set to tetrateapp, which was set previously in the JWT token.

The authorization block sets two rules: one for the admin role which can access everything and another for the normal role which only can access GET /status.

Now, apply the changes. Since you have the same name as the previous gateway-no-auth.yaml, it will update your previous gateway.

tctl apply -f gateway-with-auth.yaml

If you try to access httpbin without a JWT token you will get a 403 error

curl -k -o /dev/null -s \
    -w "%{http_code}\n" "https://httpbin.tetrate.com/get" \
    --resolve "httpbin.tetrate.com:443:${GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP}"

Access httpbin with JWT Token

Try to access the Gateway with a JWT token. Get the token using Keycloak sample app or curl as explained before, and use the token to make HTTP requests with curl for both users Jack and Sally. Replace <jack_access_token> and <sally_access_token> in the curl command below to get the user’s JWT token.

Try to access GET /get with Jack’s token (our admin user)

curl -k -o /dev/null -s \
    -w "%{http_code}\n" "https://httpbin.tetrate.com/get" \
    --resolve "httpbin.tetrate.com:443:${GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP}" \
    --header "Authorization: Bearer <jack_access_token>"

Try to access GET /get with Sally’s token (our normal user). The request should fail because any user with a normal role only is allowed to access GET /status/*

curl -k -o /dev/null -s \
    -w "%{http_code}\n" "https://httpbin.tetrate.com/get" \
    --resolve "httpbin.tetrate.com:443:${GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP}" \
    --header "Authorization: Bearer <sally_access_token>"

Try to access GET /status/200 with Sally’s token. The request should succeed because any user with a normal role is allowed to access GET /status/*

curl -k -o /dev/null -s \
    -w "%{http_code}\n" "https://httpbin.tetrate.com/status/200" \
    --resolve "httpbin.tetrate.com:443:${GATEWAY_HTTPBIN_IP}" \
    --header "Authorization: Bearer <sally_access_token>"