TLS/SSL Connections

  • Note: The driver's TLS/SSL socket factory is provided as part of the extensions jar. See the Notes at the bottom of this documentation for details. Further, the use of TLS/SSL connections requires a custom compiled version of MongoDB or the Enterprise version of the MongoDB server. See the MongoDB Tutorial for details.

The driver provides an enhanced TLS/SSL SocketFactory that enables the client to establish an encrypted and authenticated connection to each MongoDB process. There are several issues that must be addressed to ensure that the TLS/SSL connection is secure.

1. Ensure that the x.509 certificate presented by the server is valid and trusted.

2. Ensure that the x.509 certificate presented by the server is the one we expected based on the server we are attempting to connected to.

3. Ensure that only appropriate cipher suites are used.

4. Optionally, provide an x.509 certificate and private key for the client to authenticate with the server.

The driver's TLS/SSL support is provided via the TlsSocketFactory class and accompanying TlsSocketFactory.Builder class. Below is an example configuring the client to use the driver's enhanced TlsSocketFactory.

 final File keyStore = new File("keystore");
 final File trustStore = new File("trust");
 final TlsSocketFactory.Builder socketFactoryBuilder = TlsSocketFactory
         .trustOnly(trustStore, "JKS", "changeme".toCharArray())
         .keys(keyStore, "JKS", "changeme".toCharArray(),

Trusting the Server

When the client creates a TLS/SSL connection to a MongoDB server the server will present its x.509 certificate to the client to prove its identity. The client should first ensure that the certificate is valid (e.g., it has not expired) and trusted. The Java Runtime provides a default trust manager that will ensure that the certificate presented is signed by one of the CA (Certificate Authority) or trust certificates. This model of trust can be setup via the standard JSSE System properties (e.g., or via the use of the storeFile,String storeType, char[] storePassword) method.

The model of trusting a certificate strictly based on the the signer is probably sufficient for a client application that will connect to a number of unknown servers (e.g., a browser). For a MongoDB client we can take advantage of the fact that the number of servers is much smaller and known in advance. If it is possible to enumerate all of the certificates that MongoDB servers will use we can store those certificate in a single key store and then only allow connections to servers presenting those certificates. This model of trust is not provided via the Java Runtime and can only be used via the TlsSocketFactory.Builder.trustOnly(File storeFile,String storeType, char[] storePassword) method. To support key updates the trustOnly(...) mode will also periodically poll the trust store file's modification time and reload the file when it detects a change.

Lastly, when in development and for automated testing it it often useful to simply have the driver not inspect the certificate presented by the server at all. This can be accomplished using the TlsSocketFactory.Builder.trustAny() method. Not validating the certificate from the server has the side effect of essentially removing all security provided by TLS/SSL connections and should not be used in production.

Hostname Verification

Once we have validated the certificate presented by the server we still need to do one additional check. To avoid a man-in-the-middle attack we should verify the name of the certificate presented matches the name of the server we thought we were connecting to. Without this check the TLS/SSL connection is vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack where the attacker arranges for the connections for a server in the cluster to instead be connected to a server they control. (Examples include DNS spoofing and ARP Cache Poisoning.) The attacker may still present a valid certificate (e.g., signed by a trusted CA) but having to also present the correct host name is more difficult. Used with a minimal set of CA certificate hostname verification can make man-in-the-middle attacks extremely difficult to perform. Note that trustOnly(....) model also makes man-in-the-middle attacks difficult but not impossible. The attack only needs to compromise 1 certificate's private key to launch the attack against all of the servers in the cluster. With host name verification they are only able to exploit that single server's connections.

Hostname verification is so important that if already built into the HTTPS support of the Java Runtime as part of the HttpsUrlConnection class. Rather than reinvent the wheel we have leveraged the HostnameVerifier interface. The driver also provides a DefaultHostnameVerifier which contains the default logic for validating the name of the server we are attempting to connect to matches the name from the server's certificate. The class will validate the name against both the subject's common name and the DNS alternate names contained within the certificate.

Similar to the trustAny() method we also provide an AllowAllHostnameVerifier HostnameVerifier implementation that reverts the TLS/SSL Socket factory to not using hostname verification. For the reasons described above not validating the hostname against the server's certificate should not be used in production.

Cipher Suites

For TLS/SSL connections the cipher suite defines the authentication protocol, message authentication algorithm and symmetric cipher suite that will be used. The client provides the server with a list of acceptable cipher suites at the beginning of the connection. The MongoDB server then chooses the first acceptable cipher suite from that list. The relative security of the various cipher suites is beyond the scope of this guide.

The CipherSuite class provided with the driver compiles the list of cipher suite names that are supported by the Java 8 SunJSSE provider. It also contains several logical groupings for the cipher suites and the default order of enabled cipher suites.

The TlsSocketFactory.Builder enables a user to easily create a list of cipher suites to present to the server and the order they should be presented. Since there may be cipher suites supported by the MongoDB server that are not provided by the SunJSSE provider the builder also supports setting the cipher suites by name.

Client Authentication

To enable x.509 authentication with the MongoDB server the client must present its x.509 certificate during the start of the TLS/SSL connection. Similar to the default trust modes, this may be configured using the JSSE System properties (e.g., or by using the TlsSocketFactory.Builder.key(File storeFile,String storeType, char[] storePassword, char[] keyPassword).

See the x.509 Authentication Users Guide for details on configuring the driver to use x.509 authentication.


The TLS/SSL socket factory is provided via the driver's extensions jar available to license holders. Please contact Allanbank Consulting, Inc. for information on licensing the driver and obtaining the extensions jar.