Configuring Envoy as a level two proxy

Envoy is a production-ready proxy, however, the default settings that are tailored for the edge use case may need to be adjusted when using Envoy in a multi-level deployment as a “level two” proxy.


In summary, if you run level two Envoy version 1.11.1 or greater which terminates HTTP/2, we strongly advise you to change the HttpConnectionManager configuration of your level two Envoy, by setting its downstream validation of HTTP messaging option to true.

If there is an invalid HTTP/2 request and this option is not set, the Envoy in question will reset the entire connection. This behavior was changed as part of the 1.11.1 security release, to increase the security of Edge Envoys. Unfortunately, because there are no guarantees that edge proxies will enforce HTTP/1 or HTTP/2 standards compliance as rigorously as Envoy’s HTTP/2 stack does, this can result in a problem as follows. If one client sends a request that for example passes level one proxy’s validation checks, and it is forwarded over an upstream multiplexed HTTP/2 connection (potentially shared with other clients) the strict enforcement on the level two Envoy HTTP/2 will reset all the streams on that connection, causing a service disruption to the clients sharing that L1-L2 connection. If a malicious user has insight into what traffic will bypass level one checks, they could spray “bad” traffic across the level one fleet, causing serious disruption to other users’ traffic.

This configuration option also has implications for invalid HTTP/1.1 though slightly less severe ones. For Envoy L1s, invalid HTTP/1 requests will also result in connection reset. If the option is set to true, and the request is completely read, the connection will persist and can be reused for a subsequent request.