Webhook component

In order to provide advanced resource validation, cert-manager includes a ValidatingWebhookConfiguration resource which is deployed into the cluster.

This allows cert-manager to validate that Issuer, ClusterIssuer and Certificate resources that are submitted to the apiserver are syntactically valid, and catch issues with your resources early on.

If you disable the webhook component, cert-manager will still perform the same resource validation however it will not reject ‘create’ events when the resources are submitted to the apiserver if they are invalid. This means it may be possible for a user to submit a resource that renders the controller inoperable. For this reason, it is strongly advised to keep the webhook enabled.


This feature requires Kubernetes v1.9 or greater.

How it works

This sections walks through how the resource validation webhook is configured and explains the process required for it to provision.

The webhook is a ValidatingWebhookConfiguration resource combined with an extra pod that is deployed alongside the cert-manager-controller.

The ValidatingWebhookConfiguration instructs the Kubernetes apiserver to POST the contents of any Create or Update operations performed on cert-manager resource types in order to validate that they are setting valid configurations.

This allows us to ensure mis-configurations are caught early on and communicated to you.

In order for this to work, the webhook requires a TLS certificate that the apiserver is configured to trust.

The cert-manager deployment manifests define two Issuer resources, and two Certificate resources:

  • issuer/cert-manager-webhook-selfsign - A self signing Issuer that is used to issue a self signed root CA certificate.
  • certificate/cert-manager-webhook-ca - A self-signed root CA certificate which is used to sign certificates for the webhook pod.
  • issuer/cert-manager-webhook-ca - A CA Issuer that is used to issue certificates used by the webhook pod to serve with.
  • certificate/cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls - A TLS certificate issued by the root CA above, served by the webhook.

You can check the status of these resources to ensure they’re functioning correctly by running:

kubectl get issuer --namespace cert-manager
NAME                            AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca         10m
cert-manager-webhook-selfsign   10m

kubectl get certificate -o wide --namespace cert-manager
NAME                               READY   SECRET                             ISSUER                          STATUS                                          AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca            True    cert-manager-webhook-ca            cert-manager-webhook-selfsign   Certificate is up to date and has not expired   10m
cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls   True    cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls   cert-manager-webhook-ca         Certificate is up to date and has not expired   10m

If the certificates or issuer are not Ready or you cannot see them, you should check the troubleshooting guide for help.


If you are running Kubernetes v1.10 or earlier, you may need to run kubectl describe instead of kubectl get as the ‘additionalPrinterColumns’ functionality only moved to beta in v1.11.


The cert-manager CA injector is responsible for injecting the two CA bundles above into the webhook’s ValidatingWebhookConfiguration and APIService resource in order to allow the Kubernetes apiserver to ‘trust’ the webhook apiserver.

This component is configured using the certmanager.k8s.io/inject-apiserver-ca: "true" and certmanager.k8s.io/inject-apiserver-ca: "true" annotations on the APIService and ValidatingWebhookConfiguration resources.

It copies across the CA defined in the ‘cert-manager-webhook-ca’ Secret generated above to the caBundle field on the APIService resource. It also sets the webhook’s clientConfig.caBundle field on the cert-manager-webhook ValidatingWebhookConfiguration resource to that of your Kubernetes API server in order to support Kubernetes versions earlier than v1.11.

Known issues

This section contains known issues with the webhook component.

If you’re having problems, or receiving errors when creating cert-manager resources, please read through this section for help.

Disabling validation on the cert-manager namespace

If you’ve installed cert-manager with custom manifests, or have performed an upgrade from an earlier version, it’s important to make sure that the namespace that the webhook is running in has an additional label applied to it in order to disable resource validation on the namespace that the webhook runs in.

If this step is not completed, cert-manager will not be able to provision certificates for the webhook correctly, causing a chicken-egg situation.

To apply the label, run:

kubectl label namespace cert-manager certmanager.k8s.io/disable-validation=true

You may need to wait a little while before cert-manager retries issuing the certificates if they have been failing for a while due to cert-manager’s built in back-offs.

Running on private GKE clusters

When Google configure the control plane for private clusters, they automatically configure VPC peering between your Kubernetes cluster’s network and a separate Google managed project.

In order to restrict what Google are able to access within your cluster, the firewall rules configured restrict access to your Kubernetes pods.

This means that in order to use the webhook component with a GKE private cluster, you must configure an additional firewall rule to allow the GKE control plane access to your webhook pod.

You can read more information on how to add firewall rules for the GKE control plane nodes in the GKE docs.

Alternatively, you can read how to disable the webhook component below.


add an example command for how to do this here & explain any security implications

Disable the webhook component

If you are having issues with the webhook and cannot use it at this time, you can optionally disable the webhook altogether.

Doing this may expose your cluster to mis-configuration problems that in some cases could cause cert-manager to stop working altogether (i.e. if invalid types are set for fields on cert-manager resources).

How you disable the webhook depends on your deployment method.

With Helm

The Helm chart exposes an option that can be used to disable the webhook.

To do so with an existing installation, you can run:

helm upgrade cert-manager \
   --reuse-values \
   --set webhook.enabled=false

If you have not installed cert-manager yet, you can add the --set webhook.enabled=false to the helm install command used to install cert-manager.

With static manifests

Because we cannot specify options when installing the static manifests to conditionally disable different components, we also ship a copy of the deployment files that do not include the webhook.

Instead of installing with cert-manager.yaml file, you should instead use the cert-manager-no-webhook.yaml file located in the deploy directory.

This is a destructive operation, as it will remove the CustomResourceDefinition resources, causing your configured Issuers, Certificates etc to be deleted.

You should first backup your configuration before running the following commands.

To re-install cert-manager without the webhook, run:

kubectl delete -f https://github.com/jetstack/cert-manager/releases/download/v0.9.1/cert-manager.yaml

kubectl apply -f https://github.com/jetstack/cert-manager/releases/download/v0.9.1/cert-manager-no-webhook.yaml

Once you have re-installed cert-manager, you should then restore your configuration.