Tailscale’s API gives you programmatic access to many of your Tailscale resources, including devices on your tailnet, access controls in your tailnet policy file, and DNS settings. Today we’re launching two improvements to how you authenticate to the Tailscale API: the ability to create scoped access tokens limited to specific operations, and the ability to continually generate or refresh access tokens using OAuth clients.
Traefik, the popular load balancing and reverse proxy tool, has added support for Tailscale as a certificate resolver in Traefik Proxy 3.0 beta, the latest release of its forward proxy offering. Today, one of the engineers behind this integration has published a fun deep dive into how it works and how they’re using Tailscale to help with testing at Traefik.
This new feature means you can now access HTTPS-enabled services on your tailnet behind Traefik Proxy, without the headache of separately handling certificates or exposing an endpoint to resolve TLS challenges from Let’s Encrypt. Instead, Tailscale can manage your certificate life cycle and automatically renew your Let’s Encrypt certificate, and will do so under this setup as long as Traefik is running.
As we took a few days away from our keyboards over the holidays, we here at Tailscale also spent time reflecting on the year we had in 2022, which seemed to come and go before we knew it. It was quite a journey — and we wanted to share with you some highlights from what was a decidedly lively and groundbreaking year for us.
When setting up cloud infrastructure for your team, it often makes sense to provision sensitive services in private subnets. However, this usually means that those services are not easily accessible from your personal devices or CI/CD infrastructure. Tailscale already makes it possible to access those services by adding a private subnet router to your tailnet. But what happens if you need to quickly access something in a private subnet and then immediately terminate that connection?
Most organizations already have existing infrastructure, so the need to access or debug something in a private subnet is a relatively frequent problem. That’s why Pulumi has worked hard to create a way to quickly provision ephemeral VPN connections that you can spin up and tear down quickly. Connecti is a command line tool written in the Go programming language using Pulumi’s automation API, that allows you to declaratively provision Tailscale subnet routers in seconds without writing a single line of infrastructure code.
Pulumi is an open source infrastructure as code platform for creating, deploying, and managing cloud infrastructure. Pulumi works with both traditional infrastructures like VMs, networks, and databases, in addition to modern architectures such as containers, Kubernetes clusters, and serverless functions.
Continue reading to learn more about Tailscale and Connecti from Pulumi software engineer and Connecti creator Lee Briggs.
Users sometimes ask us, “How can I trust Tailscale?” From the beginning, we’ve tried to make it so you don’t have to, by architecting our infrastructure with security and privacy in mind. When you use Tailscale, your data is end-to-end encrypted. Tailscale doesn’t have the private key, so we can’t see your traffic. While Tailscale can’t observe the data transiting your tailnet, we are responsible for managing the control plane, where our coordination server distributes public keys and settings for your tailnet.
Which brings us to one glaring issue that has remained with our architecture: You have still needed to trust our coordination server. What if we were malicious, and stealthily inserted new nodes into your network? Tailscale could hypothetically use a secretly-added node to send or receive traffic to your existing nodes — meaning it wouldn’t matter that the traffic is encrypted because the peer itself would be malicious.
You should decide who to trust when it comes to your tailnet’s coordination server and how nodes are added to your tailnet. We don’t want you to have to trust us to get it right. So today, we’re taking the first steps with tailnet lock, a security feature where your nodes verify the public keys distributed by the coordination server before trusting them for network connectivity.
We made significant improvements to the throughput of wireguard-go, which is the userspace WireGuard® implementation that Tailscale uses. What this means for you: improved performance of the Tailscale client on Linux. We intend to upstream these changes to WireGuard as well.
You can experience these improvements in the current unstable Tailscale client release, and also in Tailscale v1.36, available in early 2023. Read on to learn how we did it, or jump down to the Results section if you just want numbers.
Today, we’re sharing golink, an open source private URL shortener service for tailnets. Using golink, you can create and share simple go/name links for commonly accessed websites, so that anyone in your network can access them no matter the device they’re on — without requiring browser extensions or fiddling with DNS settings. And because golink integrates with Tailscale, links are private to users in your tailnet without any separate user management, logins, or security policies.
Last week, Tailscale hosted a three-day co-work week to prove Tailscale Runs Anywhere I Need (TRAIN) by traversing the Amtrak Coast Starlight line from Emeryville, CA to Seattle, WA. The week included a shared work day in Berkeley, an overnight on the train, a work day from the train’s observatory, and a work day from a lovely Airbnb in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle.
Tailscale has recently been notified of security vulnerabilities in the Tailscale Windows client which allow a malicious website visited by a device running Tailscale to change the Tailscale daemon configuration and access information in the Tailscale local and peer APIs.
To patch these vulnerabilities, upgrade Tailscale on your Windows machines to Tailscale v1.32.3 or later, or v1.33.257 or later (unstable).
Tailscale lets you put all your devices on their own private tailnet so they can reach each other, ACLs permitting. Usually that’s nice and comforting, knowing that all your devices can then be isolated from the internet, without any ports needing to be open to the world.
Sometimes, though, you need something from the big, scary, non-Tailscale internet to be able to reach your device.
tsnetto get all of the goodness of Tailscale in userspace so that you can have your services join your tailnet like they were separate computers.
Tailscale is amazing. But you already knew that, right? There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to set up a secure network in seconds, almost like magic — except maybe realizing it’s Friday when you thought it was Thursday, but I digress.
Being a relatively new product, Tailscale is still adding features to make it even easier to use. One of the most requested features from both our enterprise customers as well as individual users are notifications for events happening in your tailnet, such as when new nodes are added or need to be authorized. Before Tailscale introduced the new feature I’m about to mention (shh… I know you saw it in the title, but just pretend you didn’t for a second), there wasn’t really a way for the admin of a tailnet to know if something had changed without constantly stalking the admin console for new warning badges on machines, or scrolling through the configuration audit logs for updates.
During my internship at Tailscale this past summer, I set out to fill this notification gap. (“I” meaning me, Laura the intern, not to be confused with the lovely individual of the same name who has been writing the Tailscale newsletter every month.) As a result of my (and many other peoples’) summer-long efforts, Tailscale now allows you to configure webhooks to notify you of specific kinds of events in your tailnet.
Today, we’re launching a web-based SSH client: Tailscale SSH Console.
From the Tailscale admin console, admins will now see a little “SSH…” button to connect to devices running Tailscale SSH. Click this, and you’ll pop open an SSH client, right in your browser. Tailscale SSH Console is now available in beta.
Tailscale automatically assigns IP addresses for every unique device in your network, giving each device an IP address no matter where it is located. We further improved on this with MagicDNS, which automatically registers a human-readable, easy-to-remember DNS name for each device — so you don’t need to use an IP address to access your devices. This means you can access the device
monitoring, even if it moves from on-prem to the cloud, without ever needing to know its IP address in the first place.
MagicDNS is such a useful feature that it’s been frustrating for us that not all Tailscale users know about it. We’re surprised that we often get suggestions like, “It would be great if Tailscale could just run a small DNS server for me” — when it already does! So we’re particularly excited to share that as of today, MagicDNS is generally available, and it’s enabled by default for new tailnets! (Already a Tailscale user, but not using MagicDNS yet? Click “Enable MagicDNS” in the DNS page of the admin console to get going.)
If you’re already using MagicDNS, your tailnet has been automatically assigned a new tailnet name of the form
tail<hex>.ts.net, in addition to the existing name
<domain>.beta.tailscale.net. If you’re sharing nodes with the
beta name, we ask you to migrate to the new tailnet name. The existing
beta name will be supported until at least November 1, 2023.
Understanding what changes were made to your Tailscale network, and who made them, is critical for maintaining the security and integrity of your network. That’s why we’re making it even easier for admins — and your auditors! — to review changes made to your tailnet’s configuration, such as adding devices, updating ACLs, or changing DNS settings.
Configuration audit logs, now in beta, capture changes made to your network in the coordination server. If you’re an admin of a tailnet, you can access audit logs for your tailnet in the logs tab of the admin console. From the console, you’ll see a table of changes made to your network, with the most recent events first, and you can filter by user, time, and action taken. Configuration audit logs are also available via API.
… But if you must, we made something that can help you do it right.
The folks at bit.io just published an excellent review of PostgreSQL security, with a startling conclusion: the vast majority of PostgreSQL connections that are happening over the public internet are insecure, due to a combination of server misconfigurations and most clients unfortunately defaulting to unsafe settings.
When I was in college almost a decade ago, I lived on the computer science floor of my dorm. It was quite possibly one of the most interesting places I’ve ever lived. It was full of nerds, and we had file shares and LAN parties every weekend. While I was there, I got introduced to a tool called Hamachi that we used in order to keep playing games like Minecraft, StarCraft (Brood War), and Age of Mythology together over winter and summer breaks. We shared our photos, code creations, and more; all over that shared network. This allowed us to be together even on breaks, when we were on opposite sides of the state.
Open source is in Tailscale’s bones. After our seed round, when we were only five people making our initial open source plans, we each already had decades of experience writing and using community software. Personally, I’m a Unix programmer only because of a Slackware CD I picked up in Hong Kong in 1995. I owe my livelihood and a big part of my identity to open source. So it was natural to me that we would open source anything where the trouble involved in doing so was worth the value of releasing the code.
Beyond our instincts to build open source software, we also couldn’t have built Tailscale without it. Tailscale is heavily dependent on open source: WireGuard®, a tunneling protocol for establishing encrypted connections between peers, is at the core of Tailscale. And, like every other company these days, the vast majority of the code we use wasn’t written by us — we have dependencies on code written by thousands of other developers, and we want to give back.
Tailscale clients make direct connections to each other, almost all the time. To do that, they need reliable communication infrastructure to determine how to connect (using DISCO packets), and a communication path of last resort to use when the local network on one or both ends is hostile enough that direct connections are not feasible. Tailscale runs a global network of DERP relay servers to cover both of these needs.
This week, we added nine additional DERP locations to complement our existing relay network. By operating in more locations globally, your devices are more likely to be closer to a server. That means you can more quickly and easily establish network connections. And, if your connection goes through a closer relay, it’ll likely be faster.
Not all engineering work at Tailscale requires changing Go internals or deep insights into how to leverage the birthday paradox for NAT traversal. There are countless small bugs and edge cases that we investigate in our quest to meet an unreasonably high percentile of our users’ expectations. This is the story of one such investigation.
Good news everyone: Tailscale is SOC 2 compliant! Wait… weren’t we already compliant? Yes, but now we’re SOC 2 Type II compliant… which is kind of a big deal.
As part of our ongoing commitment to security and privacy at Tailscale, we’ve completed a SOC 2 Type II audit. Our Type I audit validated that we had policies and procedures in place to keep your information safe. Now, our Type II audit validates that our security controls were effective over the period of time evaluated and that we’re actually implementing the policies and procedures we committed to.
Tailscale lets you manage access permissions within a tailnet, including which users are allowed to connect to which machines, using powerful Access Control Lists (ACLs). ACLs are controlled by a HuJSON tailnet policy file that you can edit directly in the admin console. This makes managing permissions simple, but unlike other controls defined in code, there is no way to require approval or review before accepting changes made to ACLs directly in Tailscale’s admin console. In the industry, there’s a pattern called GitOps that suggests you should maintain anything that defines your infrastructure, like this policy file, in a Git repository and use CI to validate, test, and automatically deploy changes.
In this post, I’m going to cover how you can set up a GitOps workflow for your tailnet policy file with GitHub Actions so you can maintain ACLs in a central repository, apply the same controls for changes to your configuration file as you do for code (“config as code”)— such as requiring review, and how to automatically apply these configuration changes to your network.
To make this easier, we’ve released a Sync Tailscale ACLs GitHub Action you can use for automatically updating your tailnet policy file from GitHub. If you’re using this action, or another GitOps workflow you’ve built yourself, you can surface it in the Access Controls page of the admin console to prevent colleagues from accidentally making unapproved changes.
When deploying infrastructure, you might need to frequently redeploy an environment for testing, or spin up servers in response to an increase in demand. A common tool to automate the provisioning of your infrastructure is Terraform — with Terraform, you can define infrastructure as code, then script deployments of that infrastructure. If you’re deploying servers that you want to access over Tailscale, you can already simplify setup by using a tagged auth key to automatically connect devices to your tailnet with the right permissions. But what if you’re trying to manage your deployment of Tailscale?
You can also use Terraform to manage your use of Tailscale to define and deploy your ACLs, DNS settings, auth keys, and more. Tailscale is adopting the Tailscale Terraform provider and taking responsibility for ongoing support and development. The community, notably David Bond, originally created the Tailscale Terraform provider, and we are very thankful for the work they’ve done to provide this valuable tool to others.
If you’re using Tailscale with short-lived devices such as containers or frequently redeployed infrastructure, you are probably already using ephemeral nodes. Ephemeral nodes are meant for automated, frequently redeployed workloads because they’re automatically removed from your network once they are no longer active. However, this automatic process could potentially take an hour or longer while the coordination server waits to see if the ephemeral node will come back online. This clutters your network with containers or functions that are no longer running.
When you’re working in an environment with strict compliance needs, you want to make sure you’re following the principle of least privilege and granting employees access only to the resources they need to do their job. Tailscale ACLs already make that possible by letting you define what someone can access — and restricting their access to everything else — with “default deny” rules.
In many organizations, access to resources needs to be granted temporarily, such as when someone needs additional information in order to debug a customer issue. This is why we’re partnering with Opal: to provide short-lived, granular, on-demand access to resources in your tailnet. With Opal, your team can generate self-serve access requests and get automatic approvals for faster access to the resources they need, rather than waiting for their help desk ticket to be manually reviewed and provisioned.
Managing privileged access can help improve security by reducing unnecessary access to sensitive resources and customer data. With Tailscale ACLs, you can already manage access to company resources and restrict access with “default deny” rules.
But what if there’s an emergency, and the person on call needs to access your production environment? Solving this is why we’re excited to partner with Sym! Now, users can easily request temporary access to sensitive resources in Tailscale via Slack. These requests can then be approved by team members directly in Slack, or even be automatically approved for certain people — such as on-call engineers.
Modern governance and access control policies for sensitive resources like production nodes, databases, and SSH access to servers on Tailscale can sometimes lead to extra work when requesting and approving on-demand access. Fortunately, Tailscale ACLs already let you manage access to company resources and restrict access with “default deny” rules.
But what if you want to automate Tailscale access requests and approvals so that on-call employees and engineers can get access to sensitive resources where and when they need it? That’s why we’re really excited to partner with ConductorOne, which pulls your Tailscale identities and ACLs into a centralized, automated identity security control center that gives you greater control over who has access to what and — crucially — when.