What are the security considerations for Serverless Architecture?

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon November 4, 2022

In Brief: 

What is Serverless Architecture? 

Serverless architecture, also known as Function as a Service (FaaS), is a modern pattern of software design where you can develop and run an application by hosting it on a third-party service. You do not need any underlying infrastructure. The serverless architecture eliminates the need of managing any kind of server software and hardware. Typically, you need to manage a virtual or physical server to host a software application on the internet. There is an operating system and other web server hosting processes required to run such applications. But this is not the case with serverless architecture. You just need the individual functions in your application code to use them. 

21%

of business organizations already adopted serverless technology by 2019. 

40%

of enterprises in the UK adopted some form of serverless computing by 2020. 

23.17%

is the forecasted CAGR of serverless architecture across the globe between 2021 – 2026. 

82%

of enterprises were using a hybrid cloud strategy by 2020. 

Major Security Concerns for SaaS Products

Serverless deployments come across various security challenges on a regular basis. There are injection-based vulnerabilities, OWASP-related issues with applications, and over-privileged functional permission sets and roles. Along with all this, organizations with a serverless architecture might face other sophisticated security challenges. You can use measures like VAPT Testing to get an idea of how secure your ecosystem is. Still, you need to know about the major security concerns in order toto be prepared for them. 

The following are the security considerations for serverless architecture: 

1. Insecure Configuration 

There are multiple settings and features offered in every cloud platform. It is important to take care of each one of them. Leaving them unattended might result in incorrect settings or configurations that can be a reason for security threats. These misconfigurations in a serverless architecture might work as entry points for malicious activities to cause damage to your systems. 

2. Overprivileged Function Permissions 

The serverless environment consists of multiple independent functions. Each one of these functions has its services and responsibilities for a particular task. It is your duty to make sure that everyone has access only to the functions that they require to do their task. Lapses in giving permissions and access to the functions might make the function overprivileged. This can eventually create a situation of potential security threat.  

3. Event-Data Injection 

Injection flaws within any application are a common proposition. One reason for this is untrusted inputs in application calls. But other than that, these can also be aggravated by cloud storage events, NoSQL databases, code changes, etc. Each input needs careful assessment regardless of whether it contains untrusted inputs from different event sources or not. A rich set of event sources has a great impacta significant impact on the attack surface of a serverless ecosystem. 

4. Improper exception handling and verbose error messages 

Line-by-line debugging services are quite limited in the case of a serverless architecture. Some developers use verbose error messages and enable the debugging mode for their convenience. However, there are some instances where the development team might miss the step of cleaning the code before the application goes into production. This leaves the error messages as it is. Resultingly, this might reveal crucial information about serverless functions, and the logic used. 

5. Insecure Third-Party Dependencies 

Serverless applications have a lot of third-party dependencies for database services, back-end cloud services, and other such functions. If there are vulnerabilities present in the third-party infrastructure, it can easily exploit your serverless ecosystem as well. Although it is the responsibility of the cloud service provider to safeguard all cloud components including data centers, networks, servers, operating systems, and their configurations. But the developers need to play their part as well. As it is a shared responsibility model, developers are responsible for application logic, code, data, and application-layer configurations.  

Apart from these security challenges, serverless applications do not have any proper mechanism to facilitate your security teams with accurate logging and monitoring of applications. This leads to missing the early signs of an attack. VAPT Testing and other cybersecurity measures can help you detect vulnerabilities and remediate them on time. But still, there are changes of a breach. Recognizing an attack early enables you to minimize the damage. 

Before You Go! 

  • No doubt, there are obvious security challenges with serverless applications. But it gets easier if each party that shares the security responsibility carries it out with precision.  
  • There are a lot of expert Cyber Security Services Dubai that can help you protect your serverless architecture from malicious activities.  

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