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Bastion in kOps

Bastion provide an external facing point of entry into a network containing private network instances. This host can provide a single point of fortification or audit and can be started and stopped to enable or disable inbound SSH communication from the Internet, some call bastion as the "jump server".


Enable/Disable bastion

To enable a bastion instance group, a user will need to set the --bastion flag on cluster create

kops create cluster --topology private --networking $provider --bastion $NAME

To add a bastion instance group to a pre-existing cluster, create a new instance group with the --role Bastion flag and one or more subnets (e.g. utility-us-east-2a,utility-us-east-2b).

kops create instancegroup bastions --role Bastion --subnet $SUBNET

Configure the bastion instance group

You can edit the bastion instance group to make changes. By default the name of the bastion instance group will be bastions and you can specify the name of the cluster with --name as in:

kops edit ig bastions --name $KOPS_NAME

You should now be able to edit and configure your bastion instance group.

kind: InstanceGroup
  name: bastions
  associatePublicIp: true
  image: ubuntu/images/hvm-ssd/ubuntu-focal-20.04-amd64-server-20220404
  machineType: t2.micro
  maxSize: 1
  minSize: 1
  role: Bastion
  - utility-us-east-2a

Note: If you want to turn off the bastion server, you must set the instance group maxSize and minSize fields to 0.

If you do not want the bastion instance group created at all, simply drop the --bastion flag off of your create command. The instance group will never be created.

Using a public CNAME to access your bastion

By default the bastion instance group will create a public CNAME alias that will point to the bastion ELB.

The default bastion name is bastion.$NAME as in

Unless a user is using --dns-zone which will inherently use the bastion-$ZONE syntax.

You can define a custom bastion CNAME by editing the main cluster config kops edit cluster $NAME and modifying the following block


Using an internal (VPC only) load balancer

kOps 1.23

When configuring a LoadBalancer, you can also choose to have a public load balancer or an internal (VPC only) load balancer. The type field should be Public or Internal (defaults to Public if omitted).

        type: "Internal"

Additional security groups to ELB

kOps 1.18

If you want to add security groups to the bastion ELB

        - "sg-***"

Access when using gossip

When using gossip mode, there is no DNS zone where we can configure a CNAME for the bastion. Because bastions are fronted with a load balancer, you can instead use the endpoint of the load balancer to reach your bastion.

On AWS, an easy way to find this DNS name is with kops toolbox:

kops toolbox dump -ojson | grep 'bastion.*'

Changing your ELB idle timeout

The bastion is accessed via an AWS ELB. The ELB is required to gain secure access into the private network and connect the user to the ASG that the bastion lives in. kOps will by default set the bastion ELB idle timeout to 5 minutes. This is important for SSH connections to the bastion that you plan to keep open.

You can increase the ELB idle timeout by editing the main cluster config kops edit cluster $NAME and modifying the following block

      idleTimeoutSeconds: 1200

Where the maximum value is 3600 seconds (60 minutes) allowed by AWS. For more information see configuring idle timeouts.

Using the bastion

Once your cluster is setup and you need to SSH into the bastion you can access a cluster resource using the following steps

# Verify you have an SSH agent running. This should match whatever you built your cluster with.
ssh-add -l
# If you need to add the key to your agent:
ssh-add path/to/private/key

# Now you can SSH into the bastion. Substitute the administrative username of the instance's OS for <username> (`ubuntu` for  Ubuntu,  `admin` for Debian, etc.) and the bastion domain for <bastion-domain>. If the bastion doesn't have a public CNAME alias, use the domain of the assigned load balancer as the bastion domain.
ssh -A <username>@<bastion-domain>

# then you can use the fowarded authentication to SSH into control-plane or worker nodes in the cluster.
ssh <username>@<node-address>

Now that you can successfully SSH into the bastion with a forwarded SSH agent. You can SSH into any of your cluster resources using their local IP address. You can get their local IP address from the cloud console.