Docker swarm mode overlay network security model

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Overlay networking for Docker Engine swarm mode comes secure out of the box. The swarm nodes exchange overlay network information using a gossip protocol. By default the nodes encrypt and authenticate information they exchange via gossip using the AES algorithm in GCM mode. Manager nodes in the swarm rotate the key used to encrypt gossip data every 12 hours.

You can also encrypt data exchanged between containers on different nodes on the overlay network. To enable encryption, when you create an overlay network pass the --opt encrypted flag:

$ docker network create --opt encrypted --driver overlay my-multi-host-network


When you enable overlay encryption, Docker creates IPSEC tunnels between all the nodes where tasks are scheduled for services attached to the overlay network. These tunnels also use the AES algorithm in GCM mode and manager nodes automatically rotate the keys every 12 hours.

Do not attach Windows nodes to encrypted overlay networks.

Overlay network encryption is not supported on Windows. If a Windows node attempts to connect to an encrypted overlay network, no error is detected but the node will not be able to communicate.

Swarm mode overlay networks and unmanaged containers

It is possible to use the overlay network feature with both --opt encrypted --attachable, and attach unmanaged containers to that network:

$ docker network create --opt encrypted --driver overlay --attachable my-attachable-multi-host-network


Just like services that are attached to an encrypted network, regular containers can also have the advantage of encrypted traffic when attached to a network created this way.

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