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Version: 3.28 (latest)

Secure BGP sessions

Big picture

Use BGP passwords to prevent attackers from injecting false routing information.


Setting a password on a BGP peering between BGP speakers means that a peering will only work when both ends of the peering have the same password. This provides a layer of defense against an attacker impersonating an external BGP peer or a workload in the cluster, for example to inject malicious routing information into the cluster.


Password protection on BGP sessions

Password protection is a standardized optional feature of BGP sessions. The effect is that the two peers at either end of a BGP session can only communicate, and exchange routing information, if they are both configured with the same password.

Please note that password use does not cause the data exchange to be encrypted. It remains relatively easy to eavesdrop on the data exchange, but not to inject false information.

Using Kubernetes secrets to store passwords

In Kubernetes, the Secret resource is designed for holding sensitive information, including passwords. Therefore, for this Calico feature, we use Secrets to store BGP passwords.

How to

To use a password on a BGP peering:

  1. Create (or update) a Kubernetes secret in the namespace where calico-node is running, so that it has a key whose value is the desired password. Note the secret name and the key name.


    BGP passwords must be 80 characters or fewer. If a password longer than that is configured, the BGP sessions with that password will fail to be established.

  2. Ensure that calico-node has RBAC permissions to access that secret.

  3. Specify the secret and key name on the relevant BGPPeer resource.

Create or update Kubernetes secret

For example:

kubectl create -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
name: bgp-secrets
namespace: calico-system
type: Opaque
rr-password: very-secret

If calico-node in your cluster is running in a namespace other than calico-system, you should create the secret in that namespace instead of in calico-system.

To use this password below in a BGPPeer resource, you need to note the secret name bgp-secrets and key name rr-password.

Ensure RBAC permissions

The calico-node pod must have permission to access that secret. To allow calico-node to access that secret, you would configure:

kubectl create -f - <<EOF
kind: Role
name: secret-access
namespace: calico-system
- apiGroups: [""]
resources: ["secrets"]
resourceNames: ["bgp-secrets"]
verbs: ["watch", "list", "get"]
kind: RoleBinding
name: secret-access
namespace: calico-system
kind: Role
name: secret-access
- kind: ServiceAccount
name: calico-node
namespace: calico-system

Specify secret and key name on the BGP resource

The BGP password can be specified on separate resources depending on the use case. Specify the password on the BGP peer to secure specific BGP peerings or specify the password in the BGP configuration to set the password for all intra cluster communications in a node to node mesh.

When configuring a BGP peer, include the secret and key name in the specification of the BGPPeer resource, like this:

kind: BGPPeer
name: bgppeer-global-3040
asNumber: 64567
name: bgp-secrets
key: rr-password

Additional resources

For more detail about the BGPPeer resource, see BGPPeer.

For more on configuring BGP peers, see configuring BGP peers .