Using a remote keystore provider

Implement additional providers such as PKCS12.


The location of the cassandra.yaml file depends on the type of installation:
Package installations /etc/dse/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
Tarball installations installation_location/resources/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml

DataStax Enterprise (DSE) database uses the Java Cryptography API (JCA) to implement SSL providers. The JCA is a pluggable architecture that abstracts the actual cryptography implementation from the algorithm requested. To support swapping out different implementations, DSE database uses Cipher.getInstance("AES").


The JCA architecture Provider class allows multiple implementations to register using a different service provider interface (SPI). Java comes with multiple providers and supports installation of additional providers, such as PKCS12.

Figure 1.
There are a few important points to consider regarding PKCS12 and PKCS11 support:
  • For PKCS12, in cassandra.yaml, the relevant property is truststore_type. DSE uses it to determine the desired SPI. The valid values for truststore_type are JKS, JCEKS, or PKCS12. The default is JKS, and the recommended setting for file-based truststores is PKCS12. However, there is a caveat and a workaround:
    Attention: Due to an OpenSSL issue, you cannot use a PKCS12 truststore that was generated via OpenSSL. For example, a truststore generated via the following command will not work with DSE:
    openssl pkcs12 -export -nokeys -out truststore.pfx -in intermediate.chain.pem
    However, truststores generated via Java's keytool and then converted to PKCS12 work with DSE. Example:
    keytool -importcert -alias rootca -file rootca.pem -keystore truststore.jks
    keytool -importcert -alias intermediate -file intermediate.pem -keystore truststore.jks
    keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore truststore.jks -destkeystore truststore.pfx -deststoretype pkcs12 
  • For PKCS11, in cassandra.yaml, the relevant property is keystore_type. Valid types are JKS, JCEKS, PKCS11, PKCS12. The default is JKS, and the recommended setting for file-based keystores is PKCS12. If PKCS11 is desired, note the following:
    Attention: DataStax supports PKCS11 as a keystore_type on nodes with cassandra or advanced workloads. The advanced workload support was added for DSE 6.8.2 and later. If PKCS11 is needed, in server_encryption_options or client_encryption_options, specify the keystore_type as PKCS11 and the keystore as NONE.

    PKCS11 is not supported as a truststore_type.

  • For cassandra.yaml reference descriptions, see the truststore_type and keystore_type settings.

Differences between PKCS11 and PKCS12

PKCS11 and PKCS12 are part of the RSA Public Key Cryptography Standards for storing private key and certificate information. If you haven't already, refer to the important caveats listed earlier in this topic.

PKCS12 is typically used to store private key and certificate information on files. The default keystore type in Java is JKS, though you can specify PKCS12 with the -deststoretype option when creating a keystore with keytool. Be sure to read the notes above that contain information about an openssl bug, and the workaround via keytool for PKCS12 support.

PKCS11 provides an interface to connect with hardware keystore devices. This type of keystore can store private keys, secret keys, and certificates like PKCS12, but is designed for Hardware Storage Modules (HSM).

Installing additional providers

Install providers using the configuration that comes with the JRE.

Tip: For more detailed instructions, see How to implement a Provider (Oracle).
Add the location to the configuration file, which is located in $JAVA_HOME/lib/security/ For an environment where PKCS11 is the keystore type and a Cassandra-only workload, use: path-to-pkcs11-provider-config-file
Example: /opt/bar/cfg/pkcs11.cfg
For details, see the Oracle JDK 8 PKCS#11 Reference Guide.