How do I use SSL

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Setting up the Key and Trust Stores

Also see Tomcat’s SSL instructions for more info. The following was provided by Colin Kilburn. Thanks Colin!

ActiveMQ Classic uses dummy credentials by default

ActiveMQ Classic includes key and trust stores that reference a dummy self signed cert. When you create a broker certificate and stores for your installation, either overwrite the values in the conf directory or delete the existing dummy key and trust stores so they cannot interfere)

  1. Using keytool, create a certificate for the broker:
    keytool -genkey -alias broker -keyalg RSA -keystore broker.ks
  2. Export the broker’s certificate so it can be shared with clients:
    keytool -export -alias broker -keystore broker.ks -file broker_cert
  3. Create a certificate/keystore for the client:
    keytool -genkey -alias client -keyalg RSA -keystore client.ks
  4. Create a truststore for the client, and import the broker’s certificate. This establishes that the client “trusts” the broker:
    keytool -import -alias broker -keystore client.ts -file broker_cert

Starting the Broker

Using the* System Properties

Before starting the broker’s VM set the ACTIVEMQ_SSL_OPTS environment variable so that it knows to use the broker keystore. (note that in previous versions of ActiveMQ Classic this property was called SSL_OPTS in some scripts. As of v5.12.0 all scripts use ACTIVEMQ_SSL_OPTS)


Using Spring to configure SSL for a Broker instance

Sometimes the use of* system properties is not appropriate as they effect all SSL users in a JVM. ActiveMQ Classic 5.2.x adds an element to the that allows a broker specific set of SSL properties to be configured.

The SslContext test case validates starting an SSL transport listener using the configuration specified in the broker Xbean. The SslContext element is added to the broker as follows:

The SslContext is used to configure the SslTransportFactory for that broker. Full details of the configuration options available can be seen in the schema definition or in the accessors of org.apache.activemq.spring.SpringSslContext

Starting the Client

When starting the client’s VM, specify the following system properties:

In Linux, do not use absolute path to keystore. By default, keytool uses ~/.keystore, but in some setups passing to Java VM does not work. This is not specific to ActiveMQ Classic but good to keep in mind anyway.

Client certificates

If you want to verify client certificates, you need to take a few extra steps:

  1. Export the client’s certificate so it can be shared with broker:
    keytool -export -alias client -keystore client.ks -file client_cert
  2. Create a truststore for the broker, and import the client’s certificate. This establishes that the broker “trusts” the client:
    keytool -import -alias client -keystore broker.ts -file client_cert
  3. Add


  4. Instruct ActiveMQ Classic to require client authentication by setting the following in activemq.xml:

Certificate revocation

Starting with version 5.12, you can define certificate revocation list (CRL) path on ssl context, so that invalid certificates can revoked

    <sslContext keyStore="org/apache/activemq/security/broker1.ks"

This list is static and loaded on broker startup.

Starting with version 5.14.0, you can also enable more advanced Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) protocol. For that you need to configure a location for the configuration extension by setting appropriate system properties (in ${ACTIVEMQ_HOME}/bin/env) like


Then you need to configure OCSP responder properties in file like

ocsp.enable=true ocsp.responderURL=<>

A demo of the broker configuration working with OCSP responder can be found at

Working Around Java 7 SSL Bugs

As noted by issue AMQ-5970, it seems some versions of Java 7 have problems with SSL sessions that need to use the Diffie-Hellman cypher suite. If you run into this issue, just copy the Bouncy Castle bcprov-jdk15on-148.jar to ActiveMQ Classic’s lib directory and restart your broker.

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