Loadbalancer with SSL Client Authentication using pfSense and HAProxy

Recently I stuck with a dearth of Amazon Web Services  Elastic Load-Balancer.(ELB)

My setup required SSL Mutual /Client authentication.  Checked with AWS support

and they clarified that, as of now AWS ELB won’t support SSL client certificate

authentication. I looked for alternate solution. pfSense with HAProxy came to

my rescue. Thought  this would be useful to me later for reference also to my team.

Hope this would be useful to some one evaluating alternate option for ELB.

My AWS VPC information used for this article.


Public Subnet:

Private Subnet:

First, we need to install pfSense Gateway from the market place.

Please make sure you install the gateway in the VPC public subnet. Set a static

IP and assign Elastic IP so that we can map this with DNS names later. Like any

other EC2 instance, you should be able to launch the pfSense on your designated

public subnet.  Make sure you enable ports  22,80 and 443 are enabled in the

security groups.  SSH to the box using your private key and set password

for the admin interface with cli  option. After that you should be able

to have administrative access through the WAN interface. Also since

we are going to use HTTPS termination at pfSense, better we change

administrative port to other than 443 as below.


From EC2 console, you can add second interface as LAN and attach

that to the pfSense Gateway. LAN interface is part of your private subnet,

where you can have your application server.  Let us assign the LAN Interface IP as . You need to  make sure security group attached to LAN interface allows required traffic from the private subnet.You also need to add the firewall rules on the LAN interface to allow traffic from the private subnet. In our case it is

We also need to create separate route table for the private subnet and add

the routes through the pfSense gateway. Also need to associate this route table

with the private subnet. Below are reference screen shots.

After that associate this with private subnet as below:

This is not enough for you to access Internet from the application server.

You also need to disable  source/destination check on both the interface of the

pfSense Gateway from EC2 console. This can be done with right click on the interface and Actions > Networking > Change Src Dest Check menu option. Below the output.

Please make sure this is done on both the interface of the firewall. With proper

security groups, Firewall rules on the interface and disabling the Src destination

check, you should be able to reach Internet from the application server.

Now we can install HAProxy on the pfSense firewall from the package manager.

After installation, we can see that is part of the installed packages as below.

and from the services menu we should be able to configure the package.

HAProxy stats option is available from Status Menu as well.

We need to first create the back-end server pool.  For this documentation purpose

we need to have only one back-end server, still for production you may create

more than one servers from the server list  as part of Backend server pool. There are various load-balancing options available for production setup. In our

case we have as the back-end server.  Screenshot from my setup is


Please note that server is running on plain HTTP protocol and listening on

port 80. HAProxy comes with so many control options to manage client requests.

Leaving this for later exploration. I kept all other options with default value and

saved the back-end server pool. Before staring the front-end, we need to create required SSL CA certificates, Server Certificates and user certificates. This can be done from pfSense Certificate Manager menu. By default you can see that there is one NetGate VPN CA is available there. It is upto us to use the same CA or create a new CA. For avoiding the complexity let us use the available CA itself.

Let us create two certificates using the default CA.

  1.  Server Certificate for the pfSense.
  2.  User certificate sandeepas for client authentication.

Once the certificates and the back-end server pool is ready, we can

create the front-end as below. In this case we are using WAN address,

which is the main Elastic IP for front-end. We need to select port 443 and

select ‘SSL Offloading’  as below. Please remember that we have already

changed the management port to other than 443 to avoid conflicts.

There are various ACL option to get granular control over the client access.

Here I have selected accept any. On the actions side, we selected the back-end

server pool created before.

On SSL Offloading section, we need to select server certificate, which we need

to use. Here we have option to select various ACLs based on SSL certificate

characteristics say common-name, CA Name, Subject alternate names etc.

SSL Offloading, client certificates section is for controlling SSL client

authentication.  Here you need to select the CA certificate, against which

all the user certificates are getting authenticated. Also we can use SSL client

verification revocation list (CRL). The list need to be non empty for Haproxy to

accept this section. Below is my setting.

Save this and apply the settings to make sure all the changes are taking effect.

After configuring this if you try to access the WAN Elastic IP through HTTPS, your accesswill be denied as you have not started using the client certificate in browser. You can export the user certificate from the Certificate Manager in PKCS#12 format. Ie with .p12 extn. This file can be directly imported to your browser as below.

After Importing the certificate to your browser, you would be able to access

HTTPS url. Since we are using self-signed certificate, you need to add exemption

for this SSL certificate to access the site. The the browser will give you the pop up as below to select the correct client certificate file as below.

Select OK and then it will give you the access to Web application url. You can verify

that access is accepted only with valid client SSL certificate. The access to website will be denied without a valid client certificate from the selected Certificate Authority.

Ref sites: http://loredo.me/post/116633549315/geeking-out-with-haproxy-on-pfsense-the-ultimate

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