How to secure your rqlite deployment

rqlite can be secured in various way, and with different levels of control.

File system security

You should control access to the data directory that each rqlite node uses. There is no reason for any user to directly access this directory.

You are also responsible for securing access to the SQLite database files if you enable “on disk” mode (which is not the default mode). There is no reason for any user to directly access any SQLite file, and doing so may cause rqlite to work incorrectly. If you don’t need to access a SQLite database file, then don’t enable “on disk” mode. This will maximize file-level security.

Network security

Each rqlite node listens on 2 TCP ports – one for the HTTP API, and the other for intra-cluster communications. Only the API port need be reachable from outside the cluster.

So, if possible, configure the network such that the Raft port on each node is only accessible from other nodes in the cluster. There is no need for the Raft port to be accessible by rqlite clients.

If the IP addresses (or subnets) of rqlite clients is also known, it may also be possible to limit access to the HTTP API from those addresses only.

AWS EC2 Security Groups, for example, support all this functionality. So if running rqlite in the AWS EC2 cloud you can implement this level of security at the network level.


rqlite supports HTTPS access, ensuring that all communication between clients and a cluster is encrypted.

Generating a certificate and private key

One way to generate the necessary resources is via openssl:

openssl req -x509 -nodes -newkey rsa:4096 -keyout key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365

Note that unless you sign the certificate using a trusted authority, you will need to pass -http-no-verify to rqlited.

Node-to-node encryption

rqlite supports encryption of all inter-node traffic. To enable this, pass -node-encrypt to rqlited. Each node must also be supplied with the relevant SSL certificate and corresponding private key, in X.509 format. Note that every node in a cluster must operate with encryption enabled, or none at all.

You can generate private keys and associated certificates in a similar manner as described in the HTTP API section.

Basic Auth

The HTTP API supports Basic Auth. Each rqlite node can be passed a JSON-formatted configuration file, which configures valid usernames and associated passwords for that node. The password string can be in cleartext or bcrypt hashed.

Since the configuration file only controls the node local to it, it’s important to ensure the configuration is correct on each node.

User-level permissions

rqlite, via the configuration file, also supports user-level permissions. Each user can be granted one or more of the following permissions:

  • all: user can perform all operations on a node.
  • execute: user may access the execute endpoint.
  • query: user may access the query endpoint.
  • load: user may load an SQLite dump file into a node.
  • backup: user may perform backups.
  • status: user can retrieve node status and Go runtime information.
  • ready: user can retrieve node readiness.
  • join: user can join a cluster. In practice only a node joins a cluster, so it’s the joining node that must supply the credentials.
  • join-read-only: user can join a cluster, but only as a read-only node.
  • remove: user can remove a node from a cluster.

Example configuration file

An example configuration file is shown below.

    "username": "bob",
    "password": "secret1",
    "perms": ["all"]
    "username": "mary",
    "password": "$2a$10$fKRHxrEuyDTP6tXIiDycr.nyC8Q7UMIfc31YMyXHDLgRDyhLK3VFS",
    "perms": ["query", "backup", "join"]
    "username": "*",
    "perms": ["status", "ready", "join-read-only"]

This configuration file sets authentication for three usernames, bob, mary, and *. It sets a password for the first two.

This configuration also sets permissions for all usernames. bob has permission to perform all operations, but mary can only query the cluster, as well as backup and join the cluster. * is a special username, which indicates that all users – even anonymous users (requests without any BasicAuth information) – have permission to check the cluster status and readiness. All users can also join as a read-only node. This can be useful if you wish to leave certain operations open to all accesses.

Secure cluster example

Starting a node with HTTPS enabled, node-to-node encryption, and with the above configuration file. It is assumed the HTTPS X.509 certificate and key are at the paths server.crt and key.pem respectively, and the node-to-node certificate and key are at node.crt and node-key.pem

rqlited -auth config.json -http-cert server.crt -http-key key.pem \
-node-encrypt -node-cert node.crt -node-key node-key.pem -node-no-verify \

Bringing up a second node on the same host, joining it to the first node. This allows you to block nodes from joining a cluster, unless those nodes supply a password.

rqlited -auth config.json -http-addr localhost:4003 -http-cert server.crt \
-http-key key.pem -raft-addr :4004 -join https://bob:secret1@localhost:4001 \
-node-encrypt -node-cert node.crt -node-key node-key.pem -node-no-verify \

Querying the node, as user mary.

curl -G 'https://mary:secret2@localhost:4001/db/query?pretty&timings' \
--data-urlencode 'q=SELECT * FROM foo'

Avoiding passwords at the command line

The above example suffer from one shortcoming – the password for user bob is entered at the command line. This is not ideal, as someone with access to the process table could learn the password. You can avoid this via the -join-as option, which will tell rqlite to retrieve the password from the configuration file.

rqlited -auth config.json -http-addr localhost:4003 -http-cert server.crt \
-http-key key.pem -raft-addr :4004 -join https://localhost:4001 -join-as bob \
-node-encrypt -node-cert node.crt -node-key node-key.pem -node-no-verify \
Last modified December 19, 2022: Minor cleanups (6fdc5a1)