Configuring your SSL certificate for proper HTTPS

A default installation of the Looker application uses self-signed SSL certificates for HTTPS. For production environments of customer-hosted instances, we recommend installing an SSL certificate from a trusted vendor.

To use an SSL certificate with Looker, you will need to create a Java keystore with your certificate and key.

You should have the following files:

  • A certificate file named looker.pem that contains your primary certificate
  • An associated key file named looker.key
  • Optionally, an intermediate Certificate Authority (CA) chain file named ca.pem

Your .pem file does not need to contain a root certificate.

Install the certificate

These files should all exist in the same directory. The default is /home/looker/looker/.ssl.

  1. Create the new directory and make it the current directory:

    mkdir /home/looker/looker/.ssl
    cd /home/looker/looker/.ssl
  2. Choose a password for the keystore and put it in a file called .keystorepass:

    echo "some_password_here" > .keystorepass
  3. If you have a CA file, append it to the end of your certificate file:

    echo >> looker.pem
    cat ca.pem >> looker.pem
  4. Convert the certificate and key to a pkcs12 keystore:

    openssl pkcs12 -export \
        -in looker.pem       \
        -inkey looker.key    \
        -out importme.p12
  5. You will be prompted for an export password. Use the one that you put in the .keystorepass file.

  6. Convert the pkcs12 keystore to a Java keystore:

    keytool -importkeystore     \
        -srckeystore importme.p12 \
        -destkeystore looker.jks  \
        -srcstoretype pkcs12      \
        -alias 1
  7. You will be prompted for the new keystore password and the pkcs12 keystore password. Keep using the one in the .keystorepass file.

  8. Create a file named lookerstart.cfg in the same directory as your looker.jar. This file will configure the requisite Looker options every time Looker starts. The file should contain:

LOOKERARGS="--ssl-keystore=/home/looker/looker/.ssl/looker.jks --ssl-keystore-pass-file=/home/looker/looker/.ssl/.keystorepass"

Validate the certificate

Once Looker is running, you can verify that your cert is correctly installed with OpenSSL s_client.

openssl s_client -connect localhost:9999

If your hostname is, you should see a line in the output like this:

subject=/OU=Domain Control Validated/

Another way to check is with wget. This test can be performed from any host which has network access to your Looker instance via HTTPS.

On a Looker using the default self-signed certificate, the output shows the certificate common name

$ wget
--2014-12-31 12:06:03--
Resolving (
Connecting to (||:9999... connected.
ERROR: cannot verify's certificate, issued by '/':
  Self-signed certificate encountered.
    ERROR: certificate common name '' doesn't match requested host name ''.
To connect to insecurely, use `--no-check-certificate'.

On a Looker using a certificate from a certificate authority, the certificate common name must match the DNS name that clients use to access Looker (or an equivalent wildcard certificate).

Here is an example of a server using a "real" (non-self signed) certificate:

$ wget
--2014-12-31 12:06:47--
Resolving (
Connecting to (||:9999... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 302 Found
Location: [following]
--2014-12-31 12:06:48--
Connecting to (||:9999... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 3491 (3.4K) [text/html]
Saving to: 'index.html'

100%[====================================================>] 3,491       --.-K/s   in 0.07s

2014-12-31 12:06:48 (50.5 KB/s) - 'index.html' saved [3491/3491]

Validating a site's certificate against the CA bundle

As of Looker 5.18, Looker uses the Java Certificate Authority (CA) root certificate bundle. Looker uses the CA bundle to verify the authenticity of the hosts with which it communicates when making outbound requests from the Looker server. This includes actions like making requests to outbound webhooks, performing S3 backups, requesting various forms of authentication, and communicating with the license-verification server.

Java provides and manages the CA bundle, which resides on disk. This lets the admins of customer-hosted Looker instances add or remove certificates from the CA bundle.

If you choose to modify the CA bundle, you can use Looker's test_ssl_cert_validation utility to test whether or not Looker can validate a server certificate when making an outbound HTTP connection. The utility accepts the name of a file that contains a list of URLs you want to test, with one URL per line, like this:

If the name of this file was hosts, you would use test_ssl_cert_validation like this:

$ ./looker test_ssl_cert_validation hosts

The output of test_ssl_cert_validation would look like this:

Using CA file from .../jre/lib/security/cacerts

Attempting connection to
Certificate verified successfully, connection returned with:
HTTP/1.1 200 OK

Attempting connection to
Certificate verified successfully, connection returned with:
HTTP/1.1 200 OK

Attempting connection to
Error connecting to OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError: hostname
"" does not match the server certificate

Successes: 3, Redirects: 0, Failures: 1

Disabling insecure SSL protocols

To disable inbound TSL1.0 connections to Looker, follow one of these two methods:

  • Modify the ssl_protocols line in your Nginx configuration file and remove the option for TLSv1, as shown in this code snippet:

       ssl-protocols: "TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3"
  • Set up a proxy or load balancer in front of Looker that terminates the TLS or SSL protocol. Then, disable SSL at the Looker level.

Next steps

After you have set up your SSL certificate, you will be ready to add port forwarding for a cleaner URL.