This documentation is for an out-of-date version of Apache Flink. We recommend you use the latest stable version.

Kerberos Authentication Setup and Configuration

This document briefly describes how Flink security works in the context of various deployment mechanisms (Standalone, YARN, or Mesos), filesystems, connectors, and state backends.


The primary goals of the Flink Kerberos security infrastructure are:

  1. to enable secure data access for jobs within a cluster via connectors (e.g. Kafka)
  2. to authenticate to ZooKeeper (if configured to use SASL)
  3. to authenticate to Hadoop components (e.g. HDFS, HBase)

In a production deployment scenario, streaming jobs are understood to run for long periods of time (days/weeks/months) and be able to authenticate to secure data sources throughout the life of the job. Kerberos keytabs do not expire in that timeframe, unlike a Hadoop delegation token or ticket cache entry.

The current implementation supports running Flink clusters (JobManager / TaskManager / jobs) with either a configured keytab credential or with Hadoop delegation tokens. Keep in mind that all jobs share the credential configured for a given cluster. To use a different keytab for for a certain job, simply launch a separate Flink cluster with a different configuration. Numerous Flink clusters may run side-by-side in a YARN or Mesos environment.

In concept, a Flink program may use first- or third-party connectors (Kafka, HDFS, Cassandra, Flume, Kinesis etc.) necessitating arbitrary authentication methods (Kerberos, SSL/TLS, username/password, etc.). While satisfying the security requirements for all connectors is an ongoing effort, Flink provides first-class support for Kerberos authentication only. The following services and connectors are supported for Kerberos authentication:

  • Kafka (0.9+)
  • HDFS
  • HBase
  • ZooKeeper

Note that it is possible to enable the use of Kerberos independently for each service or connector. For example, the user may enable Hadoop security without necessitating the use of Kerberos for ZooKeeper, or vice versa. The shared element is the configuration of Kerbreros credentials, which is then explicitly used by each component.

The internal architecture is based on security modules (implementing which are installed at startup. The following sections describes each security module.

Hadoop Security Module

This module uses the Hadoop UserGroupInformation (UGI) class to establish a process-wide login user context. The login user is then used for all interactions with Hadoop, including HDFS, HBase, and YARN.

If Hadoop security is enabled (in core-site.xml), the login user will have whatever Kerberos credential is configured. Otherwise, the login user conveys only the user identity of the OS account that launched the cluster.

JAAS Security Module

This module provides a dynamic JAAS configuration to the cluster, making available the configured Kerberos credential to ZooKeeper, Kafka, and other such components that rely on JAAS.

Note that the user may also provide a static JAAS configuration file using the mechanisms described in the Java SE Documentation. Static entries override any dynamic entries provided by this module.

ZooKeeper Security Module

This module configures certain process-wide ZooKeeper security-related settings, namely the ZooKeeper service name (default: zookeeper) and the JAAS login context name (default: Client).

Deployment Modes

Here is some information specific to each deployment mode.

Standalone Mode

Steps to run a secure Flink cluster in standalone/cluster mode:

  1. Add security-related configuration options to the Flink configuration file (on all cluster nodes) (see here).
  2. Ensure that the keytab file exists at the path indicated by security.kerberos.login.keytab on all cluster nodes.
  3. Deploy Flink cluster as normal.

YARN/Mesos Mode

Steps to run a secure Flink cluster in YARN/Mesos mode:

  1. Add security-related configuration options to the Flink configuration file on the client (see here).
  2. Ensure that the keytab file exists at the path as indicated by security.kerberos.login.keytab on the client node.
  3. Deploy Flink cluster as normal.

In YARN/Mesos mode, the keytab is automatically copied from the client to the Flink containers.

For more information, see YARN security documentation.

Using kinit (YARN only)

In YARN mode, it is possible to deploy a secure Flink cluster without a keytab, using only the ticket cache (as managed by kinit). This avoids the complexity of generating a keytab and avoids entrusting the cluster manager with it. In this scenario, the Flink CLI acquires Hadoop delegation tokens (for HDFS and for HBase). The main drawback is that the cluster is necessarily short-lived since the generated delegation tokens will expire (typically within a week).

Steps to run a secure Flink cluster using kinit:

  1. Add security-related configuration options to the Flink configuration file on the client (see here).
  2. Login using the kinit command.
  3. Deploy Flink cluster as normal.

Further Details

Ticket Renewal

Each component that uses Kerberos is independently responsible for renewing the Kerberos ticket-granting-ticket (TGT). Hadoop, ZooKeeper, and Kafka all renew the TGT automatically when provided a keytab. In the delegation token scenario, YARN itself renews the token (up to its maximum lifespan).