AWS WAF is a web application firewall that lets you monitor the HTTP and HTTPS requests that are forwarded to your protected web application resources.

You can use an Amazon CloudFront to add a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to your Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS (ROSA) workloads. Using an external solution protects ROSA resources from experiencing denial of service due to handling the WAF.


Environment setup

  • Prepare the environment variables:

    $ export AWS_PAGER=""
    $ export CLUSTER_NAME=$(oc get infrastructure cluster -o=jsonpath="{.status.infrastructureName}"  | sed 's/-[a-z0-9]\{5\}$//')
    $ export REGION=$(oc get infrastructure cluster -o=jsonpath="{.status.platformStatus.aws.region}")
    $ export AWS_ACCOUNT_ID=$(aws sts get-caller-identity --query Account --output text)
    $ export SCRATCH="/tmp/${CLUSTER_NAME}/cloudfront-waf"
    $ mkdir -p ${SCRATCH}
    $ echo "Cluster: ${CLUSTER_NAME}, Region: ${REGION}, AWS Account ID: ${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}"

Custom domain setup

It is necessary to configure a secondary ingress controller to segment your external WAF-protected traffic from your standard (and default) cluster ingress controller. In ROSA, we do this using the Custom Domain Operator.

  • A unique domain, such as *.apps.<company_name>.io

  • A custom SAN or wildcard certificate, such as CN=*.apps.<company_name>.io

  1. Create a new project

    $ oc new-project waf-demo
  2. Create a new TLS secret from a private key and a public certificate, where fullchain.pem is your full wildcard certificate chain (including any intermediaries) and privkey.pem is your wildcard certificate’s private key.

    $ oc -n waf-demo create secret tls waf-tls --cert=fullchain.pem --key=privkey.pem
  3. Create a new CustomDomain custom resource (CR):

    Example waf-custom-domain.yaml
    apiVersion: managed.openshift.io/v1alpha1
    kind: CustomDomain
      name: cloudfront-waf
      domain: apps.<company_name>.io (1)
      scope: External
      loadBalancerType: NLB
        name: waf-tls
        namespace: waf-demo
      routeSelector: (2)
         route: waf
    1 The custom domain.
    2 Filters the set of routes serviced by the CustomDomain ingress. In this tutorial, we will use the waf route selector, but if no value was to be provided, no filtering would occur.
  4. Apply the CR:

    $ oc apply -f waf-custom-domain.yaml
  5. Verify that your custom domain ingress controller has been deployed and is Ready:

    $ oc get customdomains
    Example output
    NAME               ENDPOINT                                                    DOMAIN                       STATUS
    cloudfront-waf     xxrywp.<company_name>.cluster-01.opln.s1.openshiftapps.com  *.apps.<company_name>.io     Ready

Configure the AWS WAF

The AWS WAF service is a web application firewall that lets you monitor, protect, and control the HTTP and HTTPS requests that are forwarded to your protected web application resources, like ROSA.

  1. Create a AWS WAF rules file to apply to our web ACL:

    $ cat << EOF > ${SCRATCH}/waf-rules.json
          "Name": "AWS-AWSManagedRulesCommonRuleSet",
          "Priority": 0,
          "Statement": {
            "ManagedRuleGroupStatement": {
              "VendorName": "AWS",
              "Name": "AWSManagedRulesCommonRuleSet"
          "OverrideAction": {
            "None": {}
          "VisibilityConfig": {
            "SampledRequestsEnabled": true,
            "CloudWatchMetricsEnabled": true,
            "MetricName": "AWS-AWSManagedRulesCommonRuleSet"
          "Name": "AWS-AWSManagedRulesSQLiRuleSet",
          "Priority": 1,
          "Statement": {
            "ManagedRuleGroupStatement": {
              "VendorName": "AWS",
              "Name": "AWSManagedRulesSQLiRuleSet"
          "OverrideAction": {
            "None": {}
          "VisibilityConfig": {
            "SampledRequestsEnabled": true,
            "CloudWatchMetricsEnabled": true,
            "MetricName": "AWS-AWSManagedRulesSQLiRuleSet"

    This will enable the Core (Common) and SQL AWS Managed Rule Sets.

  2. Create an AWS WAF Web ACL using the rules we specified above:

    $ WAF_WACL=$(aws wafv2 create-web-acl \
      --name cloudfront-waf \
      --region ${REGION} \
      --default-action Allow={} \
      --scope CLOUDFRONT \
      --visibility-config SampledRequestsEnabled=true,CloudWatchMetricsEnabled=true,MetricName=${CLUSTER_NAME}-waf-metrics \
      --rules file://${SCRATCH}/waf-rules.json \
      --query 'Summary.Name' \
      --output text)

Configure Amazon CloudFront

  1. Retrieve the newly created custom domain ingress controller’s NLB hostname:

    $ NLB=$(oc -n openshift-ingress get service router-cloudfront-waf \
      -o jsonpath='{.status.loadBalancer.ingress[0].hostname}')
    $ echo "Origin domain: ${NLB}"
  2. Import your certificate into Amazon Certificate Manager, where cert.pem is your wildcard certificate, fullchain.pem is your wildcard certificate’s chain and privkey.pem is your wildcard certificate’s private key.

    Regardless of what region your cluster is deployed, you must import this certificate to us-east-1 as Amazon CloudFront is a global AWS service.

    $ aws acm import-certificate --certificate file://cert.pem \
      --certificate-chain file://fullchain.pem \
      --private-key file://privkey.pem \
      --region us-east-1
  3. Log into the AWS console to create a CloudFront distribution.

  4. Configure the CloudFront distribution by using the following information:

    If an option is not specified in the table below, leave them the default (which may be blank).

    Option Value

    Origin domain

    Output from the command above [1]


    rosa-waf-ingress [2]

    Viewer protocol policy

    Redirect HTTP to HTTPS

    Allowed HTTP methods


    Cache policy


    Origin request policy


    Web Application Firewall (WAF)

    Enable security protections

    Use existing WAF configuration


    Choose a web ACL


    Alternate domain name (CNAME)

    *.apps.<company_name>.io [3]

    Custom SSL certificate

    Select the certificate you imported from the step above [4]

    1. Run echo ${NLB} to get the origin domain.

    2. If you have multiple clusters, ensure the origin name is unique.

    3. This should match the wildcard domain you used to create the custom domain ingress controller.

    4. This should match the alternate domain name entered above.

  5. Retrieve the Amazon CloudFront Distribution endpoint:

    $ aws cloudfront list-distributions --query "DistributionList.Items[?Origins.Items[?DomainName=='${NLB}']].DomainName" --output text
  6. Update the DNS of your custom wildcard domain with a CNAME to the Amazon CloudFront Distribution endpoint from the step above.

    *.apps.<company_name>.io CNAME d1b2c3d4e5f6g7.cloudfront.net

Deploy a sample application

  1. Deploy a hello world application:

    $ oc -n waf-demo new-app --image=docker.io/openshift/hello-openshift
  2. Create a route for the application specifying your custom domain name:

    $ oc -n waf-demo create route edge --service=hello-openshift hello-openshift-tls \
    --hostname hello-openshift.apps.<company_name>.io
  3. Label the route to admit it to your custom domain ingress controller:

    $ oc -n waf-demo label route.route.openshift.io/hello-openshift-tls route=waf

Test the WAF

  1. Test that the app is accessible behind Amazon CloudFront:

    $ curl "https://hello-openshift.apps.<company_name>.io"
    Example output
    Hello OpenShift!
  2. Test that the WAF denies a bad request:

    $ curl -X POST "https://hello-openshift.apps.<company_name>.io" \
      -F "user='<script><alert>Hello></alert></script>'"
    Example output
    <head><title>403 Forbidden</title></head>
    <center><h1>403 Forbidden</h1></center>

    The expected result is a 403 Forbidden error, which means the AWS WAF is protecting your application.