Using EJBCA Enterprise to Issue and Manage Certificates through (Hashicorp) Vault

HashiCorp Vault is a popular product to manage secrets and when using microservices at scale, there are many services and secrets to manage. HashiCorp Vault includes a built-in Certification Authority (CA), however using that standalone CA will create a separate PKI not connected to the corporate PKI. A separate PKI is often not desired in organizations as it will not meet regulatory or other security requirements.

The following describes different ways to incorporate Vault PKI into a controlled corporately managed PKI:

Issuing from an External PKI Instead of Built-in Vault CA

Using a Vault secrets plugin it is possible to fully replace the build-in Vault CA with an external CA. This enables full management and control of the PKI, separated from the management of Vault, while clients use Vault for all secrets management and the front-end to the CA. The complete PKI, Root CAs, and Subordinate CAs are then subject to the PKI Certificate Policy (CP) and Certificate Practice Statement (CPS) and remain in compliance. To achieve all this, you need a Vault secrets plugin that makes using EJBCA as transparent as using the built-in Vault CA. Issuing a certificate from EJBCA using Vault is then as easy as running the following:

vault write ejbca/enrollCSR/TLSServer csr=@csr.pem username=bob

There are two plug-in currently available to achieve this.

Ansible Playbook to Deploy Vault with EJBCA Plugin

PrimeKey provides an Ansible playbook EJBCA Vault Plugin to deploy Vault with the EJBCA plugin, to allow DevOps teams to easily set up Vault integrated with EJBCA. For more information, refer to Keyfactor GitHub/Ansible.

Issuing a Sub CA to Vault

To fully incorporate Vault into your organization's policies, and ensure compliance and control of all certification authorities, it is possible to issue a Subordinate CA in Vault, from a Root CA in EJBCA. This enables control of the Subordinate CA from the corporate PKI, making it known and possible to stay in compliance. For more information on how to create a subordinate CA in Vault getting it signed by a Root CA in EJBCA, see Subordinate HashiCorp Vault CA to EJBCA Root.

Ansible Playbook to Subordinate Vault CA to EJBCA

PrimeKey provides a sample Ansible playbook EJBCA Vault SubCA to automate the subordination, keeping it streamlined with the other automated DevOps tasks in an organization.
For more information, refer to Keyfactor GitHub/Ansible.

Monitoring Issuance from Internal Vault CA

If you want to use the Vault provided built-in Certification Authority (CA), you can use a modified Vault CA plugin to monitor certificates issued from the internal CA. The certificates are issued from the internal Vault CA instead of a central corporate (compliant) CA and each Vault issued certificate is reported.

PrimeKey provides an EJBCA Vault Monitor plugin that sends all issued certificates for further monitoring and automatically logs vault issued certificates according to the configuration and your organization's needs, refer to Keyfactor GitHub.