Top Considerations in Serverless Computing Security

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon December 2, 2022

In Brief

Why Serverless Architecture is more Susceptible to Security Issues?

It is not like a serverless computing model comes with more security risks. Just the threats are a bit different from the traditional hardware-based computing infrastructure. Moreover, the serverless architecture comes with in-built security tools and services within the cloud. Also, the serverless model reduces the attack surface substantially b eliminating the additional hardware. The only thing that increases the security risks in serverless computing is the skill gap. The skills to manage the current policies and server does not always comply with serverless deployments. This leads to mismanagement and mishandling and eventually, security issues arise.

$1.5

billion was the mark where the serverless market was valued in 2021.

$17.84

billion is where this market is supposed to reach by the end of 2030.

31.1%

is the estimated CAGR for Global Serverless Security Market from 2022 to 2030.

33%

of respondents in a survey said that the serverless computing model improves flexibility.

Serverless Computing Security Considerations

The following are the key security considerations in serverless computing:

1. Broken Authentication

Authentication breaches are a genuine threat to serverless computing. Because when you create an application over serverless architecture, there are numerous serverless functions available for it. For each specific purpose, there is a different function. All these functions are interconnected and form the logic of the overall system. However, with that many functions, there is always a chance that a few of these functions may expose public web APIs. Some other functions might consume events from various source types. Furthermore, there are chances that the functions may have some issues with coding. All this can eventually lead to incidents of attacks and exploits such as unauthorized authentication.

2. Function Event-Data Injection

Injection flaws can prove to be among the most critical vulnerabilities in a serverless architecture. These kinds of vulnerabilities are a result of executing or evaluating an untrusted input by passing it directly to the interpreter. You often get a multitude of even sources with most serverless architectures that might help you trigger the execution of a serverless function. This abundance increases the potential attack surface for event-data injections. Some common injection flaws in serverless architecture are:

  • SQL injection
  • NoSQL injection
  • Function runtime code injection
  • Pub/Sub Message Data Tampering
  • Operating System (OS) command injection
  • Object deserialization attacks
  • Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)
  • XML External Entity (XXE)

3. Over-privileged Function Roles and Permissions

It is strictly recommended that serverless applications follow the least-privileged principle. If the application users get more access to the routine activities than they essentially require, it might lead to a compromised user account and eventually damage the application. Hence, a serverless function should contain only the privileges that the user requires.

4. Improper Exception Handling and Verbose Error Messages

The scope of line-by-line debugging is quite limited in the case of serverless architecture. So, to make debugging easier, some developers use verbose error messages. Sometimes, they forget to clean the code before moving it to production. If the verbose messages are visible, they might expose critical information about serverless functions, and the logic used.

5.  Insecure Third-Party Dependencies

There are third-party integrations of database services, back-end cloud services, and other dependencies for serverless applications to run. Any vulnerabilities present in any of them can potentially pave the way to compromise the entire application. Although it is the responsibility of the service provider to secure the cloud components such as data centre, network, servers, operating systems, and its configurations. But you as a user are responsible for protecting the application side of things. This includes application logic, code, data, and application-layer configurations.

6. Inadequate Monitoring and Logging

For maintaining adequate security, it is important to log and monitor all events and activities in the serverless environment. It helps to get real-time information on any malicious activities that might potentially harm your application. Eventually, you can prevent breaches in real-time with the help of adequate monitoring and logging of activities carried out through all user and server accounts.

Before You Go

  • Serverless Computing Security is quite important to consider if you want to move forward with serverless architecture in your organization.
  • However, cyber security consultation is important to make sure that you do not mess up the deployment of adequate security protocols to your serverless computing model.

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