Automate Let’s Encrypt Certificate for NSX Edge Load Balancer

NSX LBI needed public certificate for my lab to avoid issues while testing certain libraries that did not allow untrusted connections or importing private Certificate Authority.

Fortunately, there is possibility to issue free public certificates with Let’s Encrypt certificate authority. These certificates are domain validated, which means you need to own the domain for which you issue the certificate. There are three methods how the validation is done but only one can be used in fully automated mode. Why the need for automation? The issued certificates are valid only for 90 days.

To validate the domain ownership you need to publish on publicly accessible web server under the certificate FQDN a specific generated verification string. You do not actually need to publish the service (and the NSX Edge load balancer) to the internet if you do not want to – I just set up a simple webserver with a sole purposed to complete the validation challenge.

So what is the high level process?

  1. Own a domain for which you want to have the certificate.
  2. Set up publicly accessible web server and point to it a DNS record with the certificate FQDN.
  3. Generate challenge string and place it on the web server.
  4. Validate the domain and obtain the certificates.
  5. Upload the certificates to your NSX Edge Load Balancer.
  6. In 60 days repeat from #3.

There are various ways how to automate steps 3-5. I have chosen to do this on Windows with PowerShell but the same could be accomplished on Linux as there are many Let’s Encrypt clients available to chose from.

On a Windows 2012 R2 Server I installed latest Powershell 5, IIS and ACMESharp with PowerShell gallery:

save-module -name ACMESharp
install-module -name ACMESharp

Then I wrote PowerShell script that first goes through the certificate generation and then using NSX API replaces certificate of a specific load balancer.

Note that you need to supply NSX Manager credentials, Edge ID which is running the load balancer, application profile ID which the web server uses (can be easily looked up in NSX UI) and email and domain for the Let’s Encrypt generation process.

Also be aware that Let’s Encrypt has rate limit on how many times a particular certificate can be issued within 7 day period (currently 20).

$Username = "admin"
$Password = "default"
$NSXManager = "nsx01.fojta.com"
$LBEdge = 'edge-1'
$ApplicationProfile = 'applicationProfile-1'
$Email = "mailto:user@example.com"
$Domain = "domain.example.com"


## Generate random alias
$IdentAlias = 'Ident_'+([guid]::NewGuid()).ToString()
$CertAlias = 'Cert_'+([guid]::NewGuid()).ToString()

## Remove and rename old files
If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt.old) {Remove-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt.old}
If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key.old) {Remove-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key.old}
If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt.old) {Remove-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt.old}

If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt) {Rename-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt.old}
If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key) {Rename-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key.old}
If (Test-Path D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt) {Rename-Item D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt.old}

## Let's Encrypt specific code from https://github.com/ebekker/ACMESharp/wiki/Quick-Start
Import-Module ACMESharp
Initialize-ACMEVault -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
New-ACMERegistration -Contacts $Email -AcceptTos
New-ACMEIdentifier -Dns $Domain -alias $IdentAlias
Complete-ACMEChallenge $IdentAlias -ChallengeType http-01 -Handler iis -HandlerParameters @{ WebSiteRef = 'Default Web Site' }
Submit-ACMEChallenge $IdentAlias -ChallengeType http-01

$Status = "pending"
Do {
	Start-Sleep -s 5
	$Status = ((Update-ACMEIdentifier $Alias -ChallengeType http-01).Challenges | Where-Object {$_.Type -eq "http-01"}).Status
	}
Until ($Status = "valid")


New-ACMECertificate $IdentAlias -Generate -Alias $CertAlias
Submit-ACMECertificate $CertAlias
Get-ACMECertificate $CertAlias -ExportCertificatePEM D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt
Get-ACMECertificate $CertAlias -ExportKeyPEM D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key
Update-ACMECertificate $CertAlias
Get-ACMECertificate $CertAlias -ExportIssuerPEM D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt


$IssuerCert = [IO.File]::ReadAllText("D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt")
$PrivateKey = [IO.File]::ReadAllText("D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.key")
$LBCertificate = [IO.File]::ReadAllText("D:\LetsEncrypt\cert.crt")

## Calculate Issuer Cert Thumbprint
$IssuerCertThumbprint = (Get-PfxCertificate -filepath D:\LetsEncrypt\issuer.crt).Thumbprint.ToLower()

## Create authorization string and store in $head
$auth = [System.Convert]::ToBase64String([System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($Username + ":" + $Password))
$head = @{"Authorization"="Basic $auth"}

## Get all Edge certificates
$Uri = "https://$NSXManager/api/2.0/services/truststore/certificate/scope/" + $LBEdge
$r = Invoke-WebRequest -URI $Uri -Method Get -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -ErrorAction:Stop
[xml]$sxml = $r.Content

## Find if Issuer Certificate already exists
$exists = $false
foreach ($Certificate in $sxml.certificates.certificate) {
	$Thumbprint = $Certificate.x509Certificate.sha1Hash -replace '[:]'
	if ($Thumbprint -eq $IssuerCertThumbprint) { $exists = $true }
	}

##Upload issuer certificate if it does not exist
if (-Not $exists) {
	$Uri = "https://$NSXManager/api/2.0/services/truststore/certificate/" + $LBEdge
	$Body = "
<trustObject>
 <pemEncoding>" +$IssuerCert+ "</pemEncoding>
 <description>Issuer Certificate</description>
</trustObject>"
	$r = Invoke-WebRequest -URI $Uri -Method Post -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -Body $Body -ErrorAction:Stop
	$IssuerId = ([xml]$r).certificates.certificate.objectId
	}
	
##Upload certificate
$Uri = "https://$NSXManager/api/2.0/services/truststore/certificate/" + $LBEdge
$Body = "
<trustObject>
 <pemEncoding>" + $LBCertificate + "</pemEncoding>
 <privateKey>" + $PrivateKey + "</privateKey> 
 <description>vCloud Certificate</description>
</trustObject>"
$r = Invoke-WebRequest -URI $Uri -Method Post -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -Body $Body -ErrorAction:Stop
$NewCertificateId = ([xml]$r).certificates.certificate.objectId

##Replace certificate in the application profile
$Uri = "https://$NSXManager/api/4.0/edges/" + $LBEdge + "/loadbalancer/config/applicationprofiles/" + $ApplicationProfile
$r = Invoke-WebRequest -URI $Uri -Method Get -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -ErrorAction:Stop
[xml]$sxml = $r.Content
$OldCertificateId = $sxml.applicationProfile.clientSsl.serviceCertificate
$sxml.applicationProfile.clientSsl.serviceCertificate = $NewCertificateId
$r = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $Uri -Method Put -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -Body $sxml.OuterXML -ErrorAction:Stop

##Delete old certificate from the Edge
$Uri = "https://$NSXManager/api/2.0/services/truststore/certificate/" + $OldCertificateId
$r = Invoke-WebRequest -URI $Uri -Method Delete -Headers $head -ContentType "application/xml" -ErrorAction:Stop


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