Header strategy

Run Kiali behind a reverse proxy responsible for injecting the user’s token, or a token with impersonation.


The header strategy assumes a reverse proxy is in front of Kiali, such as OpenUnison or OAuth2 Proxy, injecting the user’s identity into each request to Kiali as an Authorization header. This token can be an OpenID Connect token or any other token the cluster recognizes. All requests to Kubernetes will be made with this token, allowing Kiali to use the user’s own RBAC context.

In addition to a user token, the header strategy supports impersonation headers. If the impersonation headers are present in the request, then Kiali will act on behalf of the user specified by the impersonation (assuming the token supplied in the Authorization header is authorized to do so).

The header strategy takes advantage of the cluster’s RBAC. See the Role-based access control documentation for more details.


The header strategy will work with any Kubernetes cluster. The token provided must be supported by that cluster. For instance, most “on-prem” clusters support OpenID Connect, but cloud hosted clusters do not. For clusters that don’t support a token, the impersonation headers can be injected by the reverse proxy.

    strategy: header

The header strategy doesn’t have any additional configuration.

HTTP Header

The header strategy looks for a token in the Authorization HTTP header with the Bearer prefix. The HTTP header should look like:

Authorization: Bearer TOKEN

Where TOKEN is the appropriate token for your cluster. This TOKEN will be submitted to the API server via a TokenReview to validate the token ONLY on the first access to Kiali. On subsequent calls the TOKEN is passed through directly to the API server.

Security Considerations

Network Policies

A policy should be put in place to make sure that the only “client” for Kiali is the authenticating reverse proxy. This helps limit potential abuse and ensures that the authenticating reverse proxy is the source of truth for who accessed Kiali.

Short Lived Tokens

The authenticating reverse proxy should inject a short lived token in the Authorization header. A shorter lived token is less likely to be abused if leaked. Kiali will take whatever token is passed into the reqeuest, so as tokens are regenerated Kiali will use the new token.


TokenRequest API

The authenticating reverse proxy should use the TokenRequest API instead of static ServiceAccount tokens when possible while using impersonation. The ServiceAccount that can impersonate users and groups is privileged and having it be short lived cuts down on the possibility of a token being leaked while it’s being passed between different parts of the infrastructure.

Drop Incoming Impersonation Headers

The authenticating proxy MUST drop any headers it receives from a remote client that match the impersonation headers. Not only do you want to make sure that the authenticating proxy can’t be overriden on which user to authenticate, but also what groups they’re a member of.