You can secure traffic between the driver and Cassandra with SSL. There are two aspects to that:

  • client-to-node encryption, where the traffic is encrypted, and the client verifies the identity of the Cassandra nodes it connects to;
  • optionally, client certificate authentication, where Cassandra nodes also verify the identity of the client.

This section describes the driver-side configuration; it assumes that you’ve already configured SSL in Cassandra:

  • the Cassandra documentation covers a basic approach with self-signed certificates, which is fine for development and tests.
  • this blog post details a more advanced solution based on a Certificate Authority (CA).

Preparing the certificates

Client truststore

This is required for client-to-node encryption.

If you’re using self-signed certificates, you need to export the public part of each node’s certificate from that node’s keystore:

keytool -export -alias cassandra -file cassandranode0.cer -keystore .keystore

Then add all public certificates to the client truststore:

keytool -import -v -trustcacerts -alias <cassandra_node0> -file cassandranode0.cer -keystore client.truststore
keytool -import -v -trustcacerts -alias <cassandra_node1> -file cassandranode1.cer -keystore client.truststore

If you’re using a Certificate Authority, the client truststore only needs to contain the CA’s certificate:

keytool -import -v -trustcacerts -alias CARoot -file ca.cer -keystore client.truststore

Client keystore

If you also intend to use client certificate authentication, generate the public and private key pair for the client:

keytool -genkey -keyalg RSA -alias client -keystore client.keystore

If you’re using self-signed certificates, extract the public part of the client certificate, and import it in the truststore of each Cassandra node:

keytool -export -alias client -file client.cer -keystore client.keystore
keytool -import -v -trustcacerts -alias client -file client.cer -keystore server.truststore

If you’re using a CA, sign the client certificate with it (see the blog post linked at the top of this page). Then the nodes’ truststores only need to contain the CA’s certificate (which should already be the case if you’ve followed the steps for inter-node encryption).

Driver configuration


withSSL() gives you a basic JSSE configuration:

Cluster cluster = Cluster.builder()

You can then use JSSE system properties for specific details, like keystore locations and passwords:
# If you're using client authentication:


If you need more control than what system properties allow, you can configure SSL programmatically by creating an SSLOptions instance:

SSLContext sslContext = ... // create and configure SSL context
String[] cipherSuites = ...

SSLOptions sslOptions = new SSLOptions(sslContext, cipherSuites);

Cluster cluster = Cluster.builder()

A known limitation of the current API is that you can’t customize the SSLEngine, which prevents advanced features like hostname verification. This will be fixed in 3.0 (see JAVA-841), in the meantime see below for a workaround.

Bypassing SSLOptions

For advanced use cases, it’s possible to bypass SSLOptions entirely: since the driver provides a hook into the Netty pipeline (by way of NettyOptions), you can add the SSL handler yourself:

import io.netty.handler.ssl.SslHandler;

// Base implementation: each time a connection is established, create an SSL handler
// and add it to the pipeline:
public abstract class SslNettyOptions extends NettyOptions {
  public void afterChannelInitialized(SocketChannel channel) throws Exception {
    channel.pipeline().addFirst("ssl", createSslHandler(channel));

  protected abstract SslHandler createSslHandler(SocketChannel channel);

// Concrete implementation based on JSSE
public class MyNettyOptions extends SslNettyOptions {

  private final SSLContext sslContext = createContext();

  protected SslHandler createSslHandler(SocketChannel channel) {
    return new SslHandler(createEngine(sslContext, channel));

  private static SSLContext createContext() {
    ... // create and configure context

  private static SSLEngine createEngine(SSLContext sslContext, SocketChannel channel) {
    SSLEngine engine = sslContext.createSSLEngine();
    ... // any extra configuration
    return engine;

cluster = Cluster.builder()
  .withNettyOptions(new MyNettyOptions())

This could be used for the following use cases:

  • fine control over JSSE configuration, for example tuning the SSL engine for hostname verification;
  • bypassing JSSE altogether in favor of another SSL implementation: recent Netty versions support OpenSSL for improved performance.