Deploy Trustee in Kubernetes

Introduction to the trustee-operator for deploying Trustee in a Kubernetes cluster.


In this blog, we’ll be going through the deployment of Trustee, the Key Broker Service that provides keys/secrets to clients that want to execute workloads confidentially. Trustee provides a built-in attestation service that complies to the RATS specification.

In this document, we’ll be focusing on how to deploy Trustee in Kubernetes using the Trustee operator.


First of all, let’s introduce some definitions.

In confidential computing environments, Attestation is crucial in verifying the trustworthiness of the location where you plan to run your workload.

The Attester provides Evidence, which is evaluated and appraised to decide its trustworthiness.

The Endorser is the HW manufacturer who provides an endorsement, which the verifier uses to validate the evidence received from the attester.

The reference value provider service (RVPS) is a component in the Attestation Service (AS) responsible for storing and providing reference values.

Kubernetes deployment

The following instructions are assuming a Kubernetes cluster is set up with the Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) running. OLM helps users install, update, and manage the lifecycle of Kubernetes native applications (Operators) and their associated services.

kind create cluster -n trustee
# install the olm operator
kubectl create -f
kubectl create -f

Namespace creation

This is the default Namespace, where all the relevant Trustee objects will be created.

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
  name: kbs-operator-system

Operator Group

An Operator group, defined by the OperatorGroup resource, provides multi-tenant configuration to OLM-installed Operators:

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
kind: OperatorGroup
  name: kbs-operator-system
  namespace: kbs-operator-system


A subscription, defined by a Subscription object, represents an intention to install an Operator. It is the custom resource that relates an Operator to a catalog source:

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
kind: Subscription
  name: kbs-operator-system
  namespace: kbs-operator-system
  channel: alpha
  installPlanApproval: Automatic
  name: trustee-operator
  source: operatorhubio-catalog
  sourceNamespace: olm
  startingCSV: trustee-operator.v0.1.0

Check Trustee Operator installation

Now it is time to check if the Trustee operator has been installed properly, by running the command:

kubectl get csv -n kbs-operator-system

We should expect something like:

NAME                      DISPLAY            VERSION   REPLACES   PHASE
trustee-operator.v0.1.0   Trustee Operator   0.1.0                Succeeded


The Trustee Operator configuration requires a few steps. Some of the steps are provided as an example, but you may want to customize the examples for your real requirements.

Authorization key-pair generation

First of all, we’d need to create the key pairs for Trustee authorization. The public key is used by Trustee for client authorization, the private key is used by the client to prove its identity and register keys/secrets.

Create secret for client authorization:

openssl genpkey -algorithm ed25519 > privateKey
openssl pkey -in privateKey -pubout -out publicKey
kubectl create secret generic kbs-auth-public-key --from-file=publicKey -n kbs-operator-system

HTTPS configuration

It is recommended to enable the HTTPS protocol for the following reasons:

  • secure the Trustee server API
  • bind the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to a given Trustee server by seeding the public key and certificate (as measured init data)

In this example we’re going to create a self-signed certificate using the following template:

cat << EOF > kbs-service-509.conf
default_bits       = 2048
default_keyfile    = localhost.key
distinguished_name = req_distinguished_name
req_extensions     = req_ext
x509_extensions    = v3_ca

countryName                 = Country Name (2 letter code)
countryName_default         = UK
stateOrProvinceName         = State or Province Name (full name)
stateOrProvinceName_default = England
localityName                = Locality Name (eg, city)
localityName_default        = Bristol
organizationName            = Organization Name (eg, company)
organizationName_default    = Red Hat
organizationalUnitName      = organizationalunit
organizationalUnitName_default = Development
commonName                  = Common Name (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR name)
commonName_default          = kbs-service
commonName_max              = 64

subjectAltName = @alt_names

subjectAltName = @alt_names

DNS.1   = kbs-service

Create secret for self-signed certificate:

openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout https.key -out https.crt \
    -config kbs-service-509.conf -passin pass:\
    -subj "/C=UK/ST=England/L=Bristol/O=Red Hat/OU=Development/CN=kbs-service"
kubectl create secret generic kbs-https-certificate --from-file=https.crt -n kbs-operator-system
kubectl create secret generic kbs-https-key --from-file=https.key -n kbs-operator-system

Trustee ConfigMap object

This command will create the ConfigMap object that provides Trustee all the needed configuration:

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: kbs-config
  namespace: kbs-operator-system
  kbs-config.json: |
        "insecure_http" : false,
        "private_key": "/etc/https-key/https.key",
        "certificate": "/etc/https-cert/https.crt",
        "sockets": [""],
        "auth_public_key": "/etc/auth-secret/publicKey",
        "attestation_token_config": {
          "attestation_token_type": "CoCo"
        "repository_config": {
          "type": "LocalFs",
          "dir_path": "/opt/confidential-containers/kbs/repository"
        "as_config": {
          "work_dir": "/opt/confidential-containers/attestation-service",
          "policy_engine": "opa",
          "attestation_token_broker": "Simple",
          "attestation_token_config": {
            "duration_min": 5
          "rvps_config": {
            "store_type": "LocalJson",
            "store_config": {
              "file_path": "/opt/confidential-containers/rvps/reference-values/reference-values.json"
        "policy_engine_config": {
          "policy_path": "/opt/confidential-containers/opa/policy.rego"

Reference Values

The reference values are an important part of the attestation process. The client collects the measurements (from the running software, the TEE hardware and its firmware) and submits a quote with the claims to the attestation server. These measurements, in order for the attestation protocol to succeed, have to match one of potentially multiple configured valid values that had been registered to Trustee previously. You could also apply flexible rules like “firmware of secure processor > v1.30”, etc. This process guarantees the cVM (confidential VM) is running the expected software stack and that it hasn’t been tampered with.

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: rvps-reference-values
  namespace: kbs-operator-system
  reference-values.json: |

Create secrets

How to create secrets to be shared with the attested clients? In this example we create a secret kbsres1 with two entries. These resources (key1, key2) can be retrieved by the Trustee clients. You can add more secrets as per your requirements.

kubectl create secret generic kbsres1 --from-literal key1=res1val1 --from-literal key2=res1val2 -n kbs-operator-system

Create KbsConfig CRD

Finally, the CRD for the operator is created:

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
kind: KbsConfig
  labels: kbsconfig kbsconfig-sample kbs-operator kustomize kbs-operator
  name: kbsconfig-sample
  namespace: kbs-operator-system
  kbsConfigMapName: kbs-config
  kbsAuthSecretName: kbs-auth-public-key
  kbsDeploymentType: AllInOneDeployment
  kbsRvpsRefValuesConfigMapName: rvps-reference-values
  kbsSecretResources: ["kbsres1"]
  kbsHttpsKeySecretName: kbs-https-key
  kbsHttpsCertSecretName: kbs-https-certificate

Set Namespace for the context entry

kubectl config set-context --current --namespace=kbs-operator-system

Check if the PODs are running

kubectl get pods -n kbs-operator-system
NAME                                                   READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
trustee-deployment-7bdc6858d7-bdncx                    1/1     Running   0          69s
trustee-operator-controller-manager-6c584fc969-8dz2d   2/2     Running   0          4h7m

Also, the log should report something like:

POD_NAME=$(kubectl get pods -l app=kbs -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}' -n kbs-operator-system)
kubectl logs -n kbs-operator-system $POD_NAME
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z INFO  kbs] Using config file /etc/kbs-config/kbs-config.json
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z WARN  attestation_service::rvps] No RVPS address provided and will launch a built-in rvps
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z INFO  attestation_service::token::simple] No Token Signer key in config file, create an ephemeral key and without CA pubkey cert
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z INFO  api_server] Starting HTTPS server at []
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z INFO  actix_server::builder] starting 12 workers
[2024-06-10T13:38:01Z INFO  actix_server::server] Tokio runtime found; starting in existing Tokio runtime

End-to-End Attestation

Since we’re running this tutorial in a regular machine (no HW endorsement), we need to customize the default resource policy when using the sample attester (no real HW TEE platform). In the default policy, claims originating from a sample TEE would be rejected. This restriction should not be removed in a production scenario.

To showcase how we can assert properties of a TEE, we assert the sample TEE’s “security version number”. For a real TEE this could be a minimum firmware revision, or similar properties of a TEE.

cat << EOF > policy.rego
package policy

default allow = false
allow {
        input["tcb-status"]["sample.svn"] == "1"

POD_NAME=$(kubectl get pods -l app=kbs -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}' -n kbs-operator-system)
kubectl cp --no-preserve policy.rego $POD_NAME:/opt/confidential-containers/opa/policy.rego

We create a pod using an already existing image where the kbs-client is deployed:

kubectl apply -f - << EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: kbs-client
  - name: kbs-client
    imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
      - sleep
      - "360000"
      - name: RUST_LOG
        value:  none

Finally we are able to test the entire attestation protocol, when fetching one of the aforementioned secret:

kubectl cp https.crt kbs-client:/
kubectl exec -it kbs-client -- kbs-client --cert-file https.crt --url https://kbs-service:8080 get-resource --path default/kbsres1/key1

If we type the command:

echo cmVzMXZhbDE= | base64 -d

We’ll get res1val1, the secret we created before.


In this blog we have shown how to use the Trustee operator for deploying Trustee and run the attestation workflow with a sample attester.