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Mosquitto TLS configuration

This guide describes how to configure Mosquitto with TLS configuration. It describes how you can:

  • Generate your own CA (certificate authority)
  • Generate a server-certificate
  • How to setup ChirpStack such that it can use the generated CA to sign client-certificates for gateways and the application MQTT integration

Please note:

While this guide describes the steps for Mosquitto, with some changes these can be applied to other MQTT brokers too. These steps might vary slightly based on your setup. The provided configuration are examples, based on your requirements you might need to modify these.

Requirements

Before proceeding, please make sure that you have installed the cfssl utility. You should also already have a working ChirpStack environment.

If using Debian or Ubuntu, this package can be installed using:

sudo apt-get install golang-cfssl

Generating CA

The CA certificate (and key) has two purposes:

  • It is used to sign certificates
  • It is used to validate certificates (checking it has been signed by the CA)

Save the following files to disk:

ca-csr.json:

{
  "CN": "ChirpStack CA",
  "key": {
    "algo": "rsa",
    "size": 4096
  }
}

ca-config.json:

{
  "signing": {
    "default": {
      "expiry": "8760h"
    },
    "profiles": {
      "server": {
        "expiry": "8760h",
        "usages": [
          "signing",
          "key encipherment",
          "server auth"
        ]
      }
    }
  }
}

Then execute the following command to generate the CA certificate and key:

cfssl gencert -initca ca-csr | cfssljson -bare ca

Generate MQTT server-certificate

The MQTT server-sertificate is used to establish a secure TLS connection between the MQTT client (gateway or integration) and the MQTT broker.

Save the following file to disk and change example.com into the hostname that will be used by clients that will connect to the MQTT broker:

mqtt-server.json:

{
	"CN": "example.com",
	"hosts": [
		"example.com"
	],
	"key": {
		"algo": "rsa",
		"size": 4096
	}
}

Then execute the following command to generate the MQTT server-certificate:

cfssl gencert -ca ca.pem -ca-key ca-key.pem -config ca-config.json -profile server mqtt-server.json | cfssljson -bare mqtt-server

Configure ChirpStack

You must configure ChirpStack with the CA certificate and CA key which you have generated in the previous step. ChirpStack will use the CA certificate (+ key) to sign the gateway or application MQTT integration client-certificates when generated using the web-interface.

Create a directory for the certificate files and copy these files using the following command:

mkdir -p /etc/chirpstack/certs
cp ca.pem /etc/chirpstack/certs
cp ca-key.pem /etc/chirpstack/certs

Depending your setup, you might need to modify the ownership and / or permissions of the created directory and files.

Update the following configuration sections in the chirpstack.toml configuration file:

[gateway] section:

client_cert_lifetime="12months"
ca_cert="/etc/chirpstack/certs/ca.pem"
ca_key="/etc/chirpstack/certs/ca-key.pem"

[integration.mqtt.client] section:

client_cert_lifetime="12months"
ca_cert="/etc/chirpstack/certs/ca.pem"
ca_key="/etc/chirpstack/certs/ca-key.pem"

Make sure to restart ChirpStack. Also verify the logs for possible errors.

Configure Mosquitto

Create a directory for the certificate files using the following command:

mkdir -p /etc/mosquitto/certs
cp ca.pem /etc/mosquitto/certs
cp mqtt-server.pem /etc/mosquitto/certs
cp mqtt-server-key.pem /etc/mosquitto/certs

Depending your setup, you might need to modify the ownership and / or permissions of the created directory and files.

To restrict MQTT clients (gateway and integrations) to their own topics, create the following ACL file:

/etc/mosquitto/acl:

pattern readwrite +/gateway/%u/#
pattern readwrite application/%u/#

Note that the %u will be automatically replaced by the CN field of the client-certificate. The + prefix in +/gateway/%u/# is used for the region prefix.

The following configuration file will configure two listeners:

  • One listener on port 1883 (no TLS), which is accessible by any MQTT on the same machine (localhost only).
  • One listener on port 8883 (TLS), which is accessible on any network interface. Client must use a client-certificate in order to connect to this listener.

/etc/mosquitto/conf.d/listeners.conf:

per_listener_settings true

listener 1883 127.0.0.1
allow_anonymous true

listener 8883 0.0.0.0
cafile /etc/mosquitto/certs/ca.pem
certfile /etc/mosquitto/certs/mqtt-server.pem
keyfile /etc/mosquitto/certs/mqtt-server-key.pem
allow_anonymous false
require_certificate true
use_identity_as_username true
acl_file /etc/mosquitto/acl

Make sure to restart ChirpStack. Also verify the logs for possible errors.

Verify

localhost (no TLS)

From the same machine on which Mosquitto is running, you should be able to connect without providing any credentials, using the following command:

mosquitto_sub  -h localhost -t "#" -v -d

Any host (TLS)

From any other machine, you should be able to connect to the MQTT broker using the following command:

mosquitto_sub -h example.com -p 8883 --cafile ca.pem --cert cert.pem --key key.pem  -t "#" -v -d

Please note:

  • The ca.pem, cert.pem and key.pem must be obtained from the ChirpStack web-interface (gateway certificate or application MQTT integration certificate).
  • Verify that your firewall rules allow incoming connections to the MQTT broker.
  • In case you see TLS related errors, please verify that the hostname (of the -h flag) matches the MQTT server-certificate. Validation of the server-certificate can be disabled using the --insecure flag.