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Creating your own instance of Crossfeed

When you create your own instance of Crossfeed, you can customize many aspects of how it looks. The dev.env.example file contains a full list of all customizable variables.

To deploy Crossfeed for the first time in a fresh AWS environment, you need to do a couple of things:

  • Set up a custom domain for the frontend and create an ACM certificate for it
  • Set up authentication mechanism (Cognito or Generate a RSA key
  • Set initial SSM variables
  • Configure User Agent and request signing
  • Configure other environment variables

Set up a custom domain for the frontend

Pick a custom domain for your frontend and create an ACM certificate for your domain. Then, set the frontend_domain and frontend_cert_arn variables in infrastructure/stage.tfvars and infrastructure/prod.tfvars accordingly.

Set up authentication mechanism (Cognito or

Choose between using Cognito or can only be used if you are a government agency, so you'll most likely just want to use Cognito.

Cognito setup

You can perform these Cognito setup steps after the user pools have been created after you first run Terraform (mentioned below).

In backend/env.yml, set the following variables:

REACT_APP_USER_POOL_ID: us-east-1_uxiY8DOum

In frontend/stage.env / frontend/prod.env, make sure the following environment variables are set:

REACT_APP_USER_POOL_CLIENT_ID=1qf4cii9v0t9hn1hnr54f2ao0j setup

In backend/env.yml, frontend/stage.env, and frontend/prod.env, remove the lines that set the USE_COGNITO or REACT_APP_USE_COGNITO environment variables. Both variables must be unset for authentication to be used!

Run the following to generate a RSA key (preferably in a non-git directory outside of crossfeed!):

openssl genrsa -out private.pem 2048
openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -days 3650 -out csr.pem
openssl x509 -req -in csr.pem -out cert.pem -signkey private.pem
npm install -g pem-jwk
pem-jwk private.pem > private.jwk

Visit the sandbox dashboard to create a application, providing cert.pem as the public certificate. Copy the contents of private.jwk to use as your LOGIN_GOV_JWT_KEY, which is stored in SSM in the next step.

Set initial SSM variables

First, make sure you set the following SSM variables manually through the AWS Console (replace staging with prod as needed). Make sure these variables are set as "SecureString":

  • /crossfeed/staging/DATABASE_USER
  • /crossfeed/staging/DATABASE_PASSWORD
  • /crossfeed/staging/APP_JWT_SECRET
  • /crossfeed/staging/REACT_APP_TERMS_VERSION

Optional variables:

  • /crossfeed/staging/WORKER_USER_AGENT
  • /crossfeed/staging/WORKER_SIGNATURE_PUBLIC_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/WORKER_SIGNATURE_PRIVATE_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/CENSYS_API_ID
  • /crossfeed/staging/CENSYS_API_SECRET
  • /crossfeed/staging/SHODAN_API_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/HIBP_API_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/LG_API_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/LG_WORKSPACE_NAME
  • /crossfeed/staging/LOGIN_GOV_REDIRECT_URI
  • /crossfeed/staging/LOGIN_GOV_BASE_URL
  • /crossfeed/staging/LOGIN_GOV_JWT_KEY
  • /crossfeed/staging/LOGIN_GOV_ISSUER

Use Terraform

Run cd infrastructure. Then, create a new bucket on S3 that can be used to store terraform state; make sure the bucket is private, bucket versioning is enabled, and server-side encryption is enabled. Then run cp stage.config .env and change the variables in .env to use this bucket name.

Make sure you configure the default AWS profile using aws configure , or set the AWS_PROFILE environment variable in .env.

You must also create a service-linked role for Amazon ES (this only needs to be created once per AWS account):

aws iam create-service-linked-role --aws-service-name

Then run:

npm i -g dotenv-cli
make init
make plan
make apply

Configure User Agent and request signing

Crossfeed's workers, when performing requets, can optionally send a User Agent identifying the requestor as Crossfeed and a Signature header to verify that Crossfeed is performing the request.

To do this, you can set the WORKER_USER_AGENT, the WORKER_SIGNATURE_PUBLIC_KEY, and the WORKER_SIGNATURE_PRIVATE_KEY parameters in your env file:

WORKER_USER_AGENT="Crossfeed (Test request from Crossfeed Staging Environment, for development use only. For more information, see"
WORKER_SIGNATURE_PUBLIC_KEY="public key, can have newlines"
WORKER_SIGNATURE_PRIVATE_KEY="private key, can have newlines"

Note that when deploying Crossfeed to AWS, the worker signature public and private keys should also be set as SSM secrets (such as /crossfeed/staging/WORKER_SIGNATURE_PUBLIC_KEY and /crossfeed/staging/WORKER_SIGNATURE_PRIVATE_KEY).

Generating RSA keys

The public and private key values can be generated by running:

ssh-keygen -m PEM -t rsa -f test_key
ssh-keygen -f -m 'PEM' -e > test_key.pem

The public key is the value of test_key.pem and the private key is the value of test_key.

Verifying a request

One can then verify that requests are coming from Crossfeed by providing you with the following parts of the request:

  • Value of the Date header
  • Value of the Signature header
  • Request method
  • Request URL

You can call the SignRequests.verify_signature method (found in backend/worker/ to verify a signature with the above four parts of a request. Crossfeed will later have an admin UI that allows admins to run this check directly from the web interface.

Configure other environment variables

The full list of configurable environment variables are provided in .env (used in local development), frontend/stage.env, frontend/prod.env, and backend/env.yml. Additionally, more settings from the Terraform end are stored in infrastructure/stage.tfvars and infrastructure/prod.tfvars.