Configuring Rate Limiting and Certificate Management

2023-02-25 19:14

Rate limiting is important to keep my meager cluster humming along, and ACME is important because I do not want to be manually rotating certificates.

Since I do not yet have a CI/CD pipeline for gateway config changes, all of this work will take place in the Konnect UI.

The Goal

  • Certificates for should be automatically generated and renewed
  • Requests should be rate limited to 100 per ip address per minute


Certificate automation will be handled by the Kong Acme Plugin and ZeroSSL.

Rate limiting will be handled by Rate Limiting Advance Plugin.

Both plugins will use Redis as a cache, acme for certificates and rate limiting advanced will store counters for ips.

Later I will add a DecK file and automated syncing, but for now, I'm configuring plugins on the Konnect UI.

Rate Limiting

The Rate Limiting Advanced plugin is straightforward. I will define a rate, a caching mechanism, and a way to differentiate callers.

For my current purposes, the rate will be low, the cache will be redis, and the differentiator will be client IP address.

I go to the Plugins menu item in Runtime Manager for my production Runtime Group, and add the Rate Limiting Advanced plugin.

I leave all the config to the defaults except the following:

Config.Identifer: ip
Config.Limit: 100
Config.Redis.Database: 1
Config.Redis.Host: konnect-kong-redis-master
Config.Redis.Port: 6379 # This should have defaulted
Config.Redis.Password: <password from redis secret>
Config.Strategy: redis
Config.Sync Rate: 5
Config.Window Size: 60


There is not a ton of feedback that things are working. I don't see any log messages from the data planes indicating issue connecting to redis, which are normally quite easy to see.

I'm also getting the expected Rate Limiting response headers now when I cURL a test route/service I have set up.

< x-ratelimit-limit-minute: 100
< x-ratelimit-remaining-minute: 94
< ratelimit-limit: 100
< ratelimit-remaining: 94
< ratelimit-reset: 22

ACME Plugin

The ACME plugin is similarly straightforward, but takes a little more setup.


Regardless of provider, the ACME protocol requires us to define a route on the gateway to receive ACME requests and prove domain ownership.

I added a Route called well-known-acme-challenge with the following config:

Protocol: http/https
Paths: /.well-known/acme-challenge

This route was pointed to a 'dummy' gateway service with a fake upstream, as it is never meant to be called.

The next step was the Authentication for the Certificate Vendor.

For ZeroSSL to work with Kong's Acme Plugin, I needed to login to my ZeroSSL account and create an External Account Binding (EAB) to get the credentials required to configure the plugin.

With the ZeroSSL EAB credentials and the ACME verification route ready, I was ready to configure the plugin.


I was able to largely leave the fields empty or in their default value, setting the following fields:

Config.Account Email: <my zerossl email>
Config.Allow Any Domain: true
Config.Api Uri:
Config.Eab Hmac Key: <from zerossl>
Config.Eab Kid: <from zerossl>
Config.Storage: redis
Config.Storage Config.Redis.Auth: <redis token>
Config.Storage Config.Redis.Host: konnect-kong-redis-master
Config.Storage Config.Redis.Port: 6379 # Should have defaulted

Since I figured out redis connectivity with the Rate Limiting Plugin, there were no issues with the values for this plugin's redis connection.


The ACME plugin is a little easier to test.

While watching gateway logs, I made a call to which routed to the gateway. For this call, as expected, I did not receive a valid certificate for the domain.

Moments later, I saw the logs show a call to the /.well-known/acme-challenge route, and my gateway was able to complete the certificate order and load in the signed cert from ZeroSSL.

To test Redis/Caching, I restarted both dataplanes and confirmed the certificate was already available from the cache.

No more adding -k to my test cURL calls!

Next Steps

  • Automating DNS alongside ACME would make thins extremely hands-off
  • DecK Config should be stored in git and applied automatically on push

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