For the strongest encryption between Looker and your database, you can create a SSH tunnel to either a tunnel server, or the database server itself.
Step 1: Choose a Host on Which to Terminate the Tunnel
The first step to set up SSH tunnel access for your database is to choose the host that will be used to terminate the tunnel. The tunnel can be terminated on either the database host itself, or on a separate host (the tunnel server).
Using the Database Server
Terminating on the database has the advantage of simplicity. There is one less host involved, so there are no additonal machines and their associated costs. The disadvantage is that your database server may be on a protected network which does not have direct access from the Internet.
Using a Tunnel Server
Terminating the tunnel on a separate server has the advantage of keeping your database server inaccessible from the Internet. If the tunnel server is compromised it is one step removed from the database server. We recommend that you remove all non-essential software and users from the tunnel server and closely monitor it with tools such as an IDS.
The tunnel server can be any Unix/Linux host that:
- Can be accessed from the Internet via SSH
- Can access the database
Step 2: Create IP Whitelist
The second step is to allow network traffic to reach the tunnel server or database host via SSH, which is generally on TCP port 22.
Please allow network traffic from each of the IP addresses listed below for the region where your Looker instance is hosted. By default this will be the United States.
Use these IP addresses for all instances hosted on AWS that were created before 07/07/2020.
Whitelist the IP addresses that match your region:
United States (AWS default)
Next Generation Hosting
Use these IP addresses for all instances hosted on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and all instances hosted on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) that were created on or after 07/07/2020.
Whitelist the IP addresses that match your region:
Instances Hosted on Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Looker-hosted instances are hosted on GCP by default. For instances hosted on GCP, whitelist the IP addresses that match your region:
South Carolina (
Northern Virginia (
Instances Hosted on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS)
For instances hosted on Amazon EKS, whitelist the IP addresses that match your region:
US East (N. Virginia) (
Canada (Central) (
Europe (Ireland) (
Europe (Frankfurt) (
Asia Pacific (Tokyo) (
Asia Pacific (Sydney) (
South America (São Paulo) (
Step 3: SSH Tunneling
If you’re connecting Looker to your database without using an SSH tunnel, please proceed on to Database Configuration.
If you’re connecting with a tunnel server, which is the same as your database host, you should provide the following information to your Looker analyst:
- IP address or DNS name of the database server
- SSH port of the database server
- Database port number
If you’re connecting with a tunnel server, which is separate from your database host, you should provide the following information to your Looker analyst:
- IP address or DNS name of the database server as seen from the tunnel server
- Database port number as seen from the tunnel server
- IP address or DNS name of the tunnel server as seen from the public internet
- SSH port of the tunnel server as seen from the public internet
- Username on the tunnel server for the SSH connection (the standard is looker)
Step 4: Prepare the Tunnel Host
Your Looker analyst will provide you with a unique public key, which will be used to authenticate the SSH tunnel session (we do not support logins via password). You will need to prepare your host (either the database server or tunnel server) by creating a
looker user and adding the Looker public key to the Looker
.ssh/authorized_keys file. Here’s how:
sudo groupadd looker
lookerand its home directory:
sudo useradd -m -g looker looker
Switch to the
sudo su - looker
chmod 700 ~/.ssh
Change to the
chmod 600 authorized_keys
Using your favorite text editor, add the SSH key provided by your Looker analyst to the
authorized_keys file. The key must be all on one line. In some cases, when you retrieve the key from your email, line breaks will be inserted by your email client. If you do not remove them it will be impossible to establish the SSH tunnel.
Tunnel Security Notes
When an SSH tunnel is terminated on the database server, the connection from Looker appears to be a local connection on the database server. Therefore, it defeats the connection-based security mechanisms built into database platforms such as MySQL. For example, it is very common for local access to be granted to the root user with no password!
By default, opening SSH access also allows forwarding of any ports, circumventing any firewalls between Looker and the database host that is terminating the SSH tunnel. This security risk may well be deemed unacceptable. This port forwarding, and the ability to log in to your tunnel server, can be controlled by properly configuring the
.ssh/authorized_keys entry for the Looker public key.
For example, the following text could be prepended to the Looker SSH key in your authorized_keys file. Please note that this text MUST be customized for your environment.
no-pty,no-X11-forwarding,permitopen="localhost:3306",permitopen="localhost:3307", command="/bin/echo Login Not Permitted"
man ssh and
man authorized_keys Linux documentation for examples and full details.
At this point, please notify your Looker analyst that you are ready to test the SSH tunnel. Once they confirm that the tunnel is established, they will provide you with the port number for the Looker side of the SSH tunnel.
On your database Connections page:
localhostin the Host field.
- In the Port field, enter the port number for the Looker side of the SSH tunnel that was provided by your Looker analyst.
Toggle off Verify SSL Cert on your database Connections page.
SSL Certificates are not supported when setting up an SSH tunnel to your database from Looker. Instead, the SSH key that you added in step 4 provides the handshake security between Looker and your database.