Set up SSL on Jenkins

04 May 2016

Jenkins can be an integral piece of software used to speed up development and deliver production services to customers. Because of this, security in Jenkins must be carefully implemented. This brief guide will walk a Jenkins sysadmin through setting up SSL for Jenkins.


This guide assumes:

  • Prior knowledge of public key infrastructure (PKI).
  • RedHat or CentOS GNU/Linux for file paths. Jenkins specific knowledge translates across distros.
  • The hosting server has a fully qualified domain name.
  • You installed Jenkins via a system package.
  • You’re using Jenkins Winstone (the Jenkins built-in web server) which is the default.
  • You’re running Jenkins as a normal user (e.g. jenkins). Normal users can’t listen on ports less than 1024 in Linux. Note: If you wish to use 443 instead of 8443 I recommend using iptables to port forward 443 to 8443.

Create a Java Keystore

Generating keys and obtaining signed certificates is outside of the scope of this article. What you need first:

  1. A private SSL key (
  2. An SSL certificate signed by a certificate authority (
  3. The SSL certificate of the certificate authority which did the signing (ca.crt).

To generate a Java Keystore requires:

  1. Reference your SSL certificates and key (listed above).
  2. Convert the SSL certificates into an intermediate format (PKCS12 keystore).
  3. Convert the intermediate format into a Java Keystore (JKS keystore).

The following command will convert SSL certificates into the intermediate format (PKCS12).

openssl pkcs12 -export -out jenkins_keystore.p12 \
  -passout 'pass:changeit' -inkey \
  -in -certfile ca.crt -name

Then convert the intermediate format (PKCS12) to Java Keystore (JKS). This way Jenkins can use the JKS.

keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore jenkins_keystore.p12 \
  -srcstorepass 'changeit' -srcstoretype PKCS12 \
  -srcalias -deststoretype JKS \
  -destkeystore jenkins_keystore.jks -deststorepass 'changeit' \

Some notes:

  • The -name, -srcalias, and -destalias must be the same as the domain name (e.g.
  • The password for the PKCS12 store and the JKS store must be exactly the same. Jenkins will fail to start if it is not the case.
  • You should probably use a different password than changeit (which is conventional knowledge for Java keystores). It will protect you if the keystore is compromised and downloaded but the password is not known. Though, in a system breach, it is wise to revoke and request new certificates.
  • The final keystore file is jenkins_keystore.jks.

Move the keystore to a place which can be referenced in Jenkins configuration.

mkdir -p /etc/jenkins
cp jenkins_keystore.jks /etc/jenkins/

#configure permissions to secure your keystore
chown -R jenkins: /etc/jenkins
chmod 700 /etc/jenkins
chmod 600 /etc/jenkins/jenkins_keystore.jks

Configure Jenkins to use SSL

Edit /etc/sysconfig/jenkins and set the following variables.

#disable HTTP

#configure HTTPS

To learn more about these options you can execute (while Jenkins is running):

java -jar /usr/lib/jenkins/jenkins.war --help
ps aux | grep 'jenkins\.war'

See /var/log/jenkins/jenkins.log for potential troubleshooting.

Configure iptables to port forward

iptables can be used to port forward 443 to 8443. This provides a better user experience since this is the standard port for HTTPS connections. To do this on a RedHat system a few things must occur:

  1. The kernel must allow forwarding.
  2. iptables needs rules for forwarding.

Some notes:

  • The recommendations are relevant to interface eth0. Double check you’re using the correct interface for your system.
Configure kernel to allow port forwarding

To enable forwarding during runtime:

#allow forwarding
sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
#allow forwarding to localhost on eth0
sysctl -w net.ipv4.conf.eth0.route_localnet=1

or alternatively

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/eth0/route_localnet

For forwarding settings to persist on reboot, add or change the following settings in /etc/sysctl.conf.

net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.route_localnet = 1
Configure iptables

Depending on how iptables is configured you may have to adapt how you insert the rules into the runtime firewall. It may be simpler to write your rules in /etc/sysconfig/iptables and reload the firewall.

#for remote connections
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 443 -j DNAT --to-destination
iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp -d --dport 8443 -j ACCEPT

#for localhost connections
iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -p tcp --dport 443 -d -j DNAT --to-destination

Use iptables-save | less for proper configuration to update /etc/sysconfig/iptables rules.

Verify SSL is running

Ensure a correct certificate chain order. The following command also accounts for Server Name Indication (SNI).

openssl s_client -connect -servername < /dev/null

View certificate information of the remote service.

openssl s_client -connect -servername < /dev/null | openssl x509 -text | less

By passing a null byte to stdin in the above commands, openssl is signaling an immediate close of the connection. For more information about the above commands, see the man pages.

  • man x509
  • man s_client

If you visit your secured Jenkins and find your browser is not showing a secure connection, then you’re likely missing the certificate authority certificate in your browser trust store.

Cited references

These are some links I referred when doing my research to formalize and write up this post.

Advanced Resources

These resources and scripts are intended for the initiated. I can do follow-up blog posts on any of them. Just ask in the comments.

  • - A script to generate a private key and a single domain or SAN certificate signing request (CSR) to be signed by a certificate authority.
  • - A script to quickly play and provision Jenkins with ease.
  • - My reference for converting X.509 certificates to JKS. It is a script I wrote quite a while ago when I was more familiar with the topic.
  • - A Maven repository where the Jenkins community publishes the Jenkins WAR file and plugin HPI files. Search *jenkins*VERSION.war to download an exact version of Jenkins where VERSION is the version you’re running in production.

Posted in Engineering with tags: Jenkins, Security