How Secure is Serverless Computing?

By Srikanth
22 Min Read
Serverless Computing

Serverless architecture adoption is growing at a very faster pace than most people realize, according to the report revealed in the modern application security provider Data Theorem. It is even outpacing virtual container adoption by more than 2X in the past four years, and also the impact of this rapid adoption to enterprise security is substantial.


Serverless security and computing

Serverless computing even adds simplicity and a new economic model to cloud computing. With the help of a public cloud offering to deploy the serverless application execution model, the enterprise also offloads more security duties to the cloud provider as well.

The enterprise is also left with the responsibility to secure the application layer: which manages and monitoring access to the application and the data, enforcing legitimate application behaviour, monitoring for the security incidents and errors, and so on.

But given that with some of the serverless computing is a relatively new latest advancement of technology, many developments and security teams’ even struggle with the help of understanding and dealing with the unique security risk it creates.

Many of the organization of the current generation tools rely on being able to attach to the underlying servers, virtual machines, databases, guest operating systems, virtual network interfaces, and virtual containers, said the announcement from the significant people.

Once an application developer sometimes chooses to build upon a serverless infrastructure, then those underlying components are then no longer going to be persistent not readily accessible. As a result of which, many of the enterprise’s security teams are scrambling to come up with the new solutions that will work to secure modern applications, and the API’s to be built on the serverless framework such as the Google Cloud functions Amazon Lambda and Azure Functions.

How Secure is Serverless Computing? 1

The most pressing security challenges of with the serverless adoption.

Shadow API popping up within the enterprise environments are also definitely a concern, given that:

Cloud providers are invested in making it faster, easier and cheaper to build large scale applications on their platforms, and

Serverless is a software engineer and DevOps tea,s preferred technique for making the back end applications and the APIs to grow at a very faster pace.

Cold start issues and potential denial of wallet, attacks may present significant challenges.

The former may also arise because of the serverless application that has been accessed infrequently and may also need extra time before enough instances of the virtual containers and databases are able to respond in a timely fashion scenario. With the Dooley notes, new solutions are being developed to counteract these issues and to make sure the security tools do not misdiagnose the application as being offline.

The latter may also result in the massive unexpected costs that are also due to the extensive infrastructure.

When a DOS attack occurs on most of the applications, the intended result is to cripple the apps from being able to respond to the new requests because as it is being tied up and some of the resources are overwhelmed by a large number of fake requests initiated by the DOS attacker, said the report.

Moreover, in the case of the serverless applications, the responsibility of scaling with the high infrastructure to deal with the new application requests that have been passed to the cloud service provider. If the more top scaling of the serverless application does not even go to have an upper limit, the result of a DoS attack could sometimes be with some of the massive financial burdens to the application developer. Moreover, the term denial of the wallet due to the enterprise’s inability to sustain the high costs mark of this type of attack.

But so far, the most pressing challenge sometimes seems to be visibility. If you ask any of the IT or the serverless cloud security leader how many of their business applications and the API’s are attached to the serverless infrastructure, you will likely to receive more queries then answers, he revealed.

DevOps teams are the innovators and early with the adopters of serverless applications, and they do not sometimes need to ask permission to build applications with the serverless connectivity. They are also, by default, the first respondents of security issues found on the serverless APIs and certificates.

“[Serverless applications] are a vulnerable side for most undertaking IT and security pioneers. Be that as it may, as associations increase understanding and receive the money related rewards of utilizing serverless, IT and security groups will begin to say something to increase more noteworthy perceivability and bits of knowledge on the new dangers and potential dangers of utilizing this new engineering.”

Guidance for CISCOs

Regardless of the entirety of the issues noted, Dooley directs CISCOs not to set strategies to stop serverless selection inside the venture.

He accepts that any endeavour to do that would be as futile as the endeavours to avoid the selection of versatile, cloud, and faaS security benefits, and would cause the CISO to be seen as an inhibitor of development, investment funds, and business nimbleness.

Instead, he encourages them to urge their security groups to empower the business to exploit new developments like serverless with sagacious information around security and dangers.

 “Security groups can give robotized investigation that permits programming specialists and DevOps groups to rapidly find and assess all the new serverless and API benefits that their associations are distributing and expending. These new APIs are the basic bond that interconnects serverless applications to everything else,” he closes.

Serverless computing is an exciting some of the new approaches in the world of cloud infrastructure that even lets you develop, write small code functions, and publish them to the cloud, where the platform also runs them on demand. This new model overhauls many of the related aspects of the operations and unlocks the different opportunities for the cost reduction, and both the large and small organizations are even trying it out.

Alongside, with the impact of the operation, serverless computing and its underlying function as a service platform also carry some of the significant security implications. The new divisions of the responsibility move some of the security concerns of a business plate while, on the other hand, simultaneously or even shuffling of the priorities for the additional risks.

Dangers You Can Worry About Less

 As a matter of first importance, serverless registering, as its names suggest, brings down the risks engaged with overseeing servers. While the servers plainly still exist, they are never again managed by the application proprietor and are instead dealt with by the cloud stage administrators — for example, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. Productive and secure treatment of servers is a centre competency for these stages, as it’s unmistakably almost sure they will deal with it well.

 The most significant concern you can dispose of is tending to dangerous server conditions. Fixing your servers is typically simple enough on a single server yet very difficult to accomplish at scale. As an industry, we are famously awful at following defenceless working framework parallels, prompting one break after another. Details from Gartner foresee this pattern will proceed into and past 2020. With a serverless methodology, fixing servers is the stage’s obligation.

 Past fixing, serverless, lessen the danger of a forswearing of-administration (DoS) assault. No server the executives likewise implies no limit the board, as FaaS consequently arrangements specially appointed servers to fulfil an approaching need. Such ideal scaling decreases the opportunity of a blackout, including one endeavoured intentionally through a DoS assault.

Assaults attempting to bring down a server will be halted, as the stage kills the disabled server inside seconds close by propelling new ones for new customers. Serverless figuring won’t help against a high-volume dispersed DoS assault, yet the hazard and harm of a DoS assault are extraordinarily decreased.

 In conclusion, FaaS offers a chance to apply fine-grain authorization control. Each sent capacity must be allowed to express access to information, administrations, and different sizes, and comparable strategies control who can conjure each position in any case.

Since functions are littler than full applications, we can incredibly lessen the number of code ways that entrance our delicate information, just as diminish the harm an assailant can do following a fruitful endeavour. This granularity offers an incredible security opportunity, yet it requires extra exertion in designing and keeping up such precise arrangements.

The Risks That Bubble to the Top

 Tragically, every engineering is imperfect, and serverless registering likewise triggers an expansion in specific dangers, brought about by the statelessness and adaptability that additionally make it sparkle. Also, by alleviating the above concerns, serverless figuring causes the assailant to notice other assault vectors, which stay open.

How Secure is Serverless Computing? 2

One of the first concerns to grow with the Faas is the moving and the storage of data. Since the serverless forces, all the functions to be stateless, sensitive cached data, such as the user sessions and negotiated with the keys cannot be kept in the memory and must be moved and easily stored in a final external location.

Driving the higher data risks leaking it in the entire process and even saving the data elsewhere requires the security controls on the new database, and may have some of the compliance implications as well. These data concerns are not just the new ones, but since data is moved and sometimes stored more often, the risk of a high-security failure could grow at a higher rate.

Apart from the serverless apps also make greater use of third party services. Due to its even driven nature, as well as the mentioned requirements, that functions sometimes yet remain stateless; serverless applications that most of the time rely more heavily on third-party services than the typical apps. These services may also be offered by the help of a cloud platform itself or by some of the external providers, and range from the authentication to storage to the messaging and email services. Each interaction with the help of a third party needs multiple security controls, and the eventual dependency chain carries a higher risk of being as storage as its weakest link.

This third party risk also applies to the software, in the form of vulnerable open source libraries. That is also much more similar in nature to the server the dependencies, vulnerable application dependencies can even cause serious harm, as demonstrated in the Equifax being breached with the help of a vulnerable java library.

Functions make sometimes going to be heavy use of these libraries, most commonly pulled from the NPM and PYPL, and many FaaS platform fetches them as a part of their built-in provisioning. The platform does not, moreover, manage these dependencies, which means that you can easily monitor for the unknown vulnerabilities in application dependencies yourself to remain secure.

Last but also not the least, a serverless approach increase your attack surface. Breaking up your entire applications into small functions easily allows for great flexibility as you can easily combine tasks in different ways but also exposes excellent risk. Services may be easily invoked in many of the different execution sequences, and they can’t rely on the various input validation, authorization, or some of the similar controls to have already happened. To properly secure as a FaaS application, make sure that each function maintains its own perimeter, and invest in the security libraries and even processes that help to make such type of defence in depth easier.

Is Serverless Better for Security?

Serverless computing provides an incredible opportunity accelerating the pace that we merely develop applications while dramatically reducing the cost of efficiently operating them. With the powerful benefits it brings to the table; it even looks bright. It is here to stay, and its adoption will also grow at a faster pace.

Just like many other things, a serverless approach does not also clearly improve or even worsen the part of security; it merely helps to change the priorities. Moreover, it even reduces the security concerns revolving the server and raises the ones which are related to the applications. In a serverless context, worry less capacity planning and server dependencies and more about the moving data, managing the vulnerable application, and applying permissions dependencies.

Serverless security challenges

A serverless architecture bears some of a unique set of security vulnerabilities that are even consequently prone to threats. The increased number of cloud storage and APIs make it much more difficult for the conventional firewalls to inspect the warnings. The complex web architecture of the serverless and its entire functions make it much more difficult for the security measures to be quickly out.

These are the top 5 risk factors in serverless architectures:

#1: Function Event Data Injection

The passing of any of the input that cannot be trusted directly can even pose a risk on the execution, mainly when the performance is triggered by a multitude of event sources.

#2: Robust Authentication

A set if robust authentication schemes become a mandate when there are some of the district serverless functions and public web APIs. The access control in protection of each and every trigger comes under scrutiny with the extra step of authentication.

#3: Misconfiguration

Moreover, while dealing with the serverless, the configuration might even crew up due to the critical and new settings, tasks, and environments. The data loss with this significant misconfiguration threat can be just like a catastrophic.

#4: Storage Issues

Some of the increased complexity and scaling even leads to storage requirements that can easily maintain critical application data. As the users can access to such type of essential files should also be limited and restrained with the encrypted password and keys.

#5: Flow Manipulation

When the functions are divided into microservices like the design, the execution flow manipulation becomes a common mishap with the multiple and different types of software. The interlinked services might even invoke the two tasks simultaneously with one trigger if the application is not also coupled in an organized order.

Serverless Security – Best Practices

There are some of the few best industry practices when it comes to securing your serverless security concerns applications:

#1 Function Level Security

As components in serverless are even coupled and can get triggered by the diverse sources, the attackers can also get more chances to breach the storages, databases, and critical inputs. A function level security thread sometimes needs to be weaved by opting for the API and WAF gateway.

#2 Minimalist Function

The polices of the serverless should be acted upon with care as there are lots of permission requirements in each function. Moreover, crafting minimal roles for each purpose is critical.

As an enterprise, you can even adopt compartmentalization with the viable and small set of functions.

#3 Test it all entirely!

A continuous deployment process can even lead to a lack of testing process. It can also create different opportunities for the security breaches to emerge from the unknown ends. Moreover, set up a tool that can even test and verify the code on a day to day basis. This will also enhance the higher production cycle of your delivery of software.

#4 DoS and DoW attacks

To tackle the denial of the service attacks, the organization opts for the auto-scaling the functions of the serverless. Moreover, this makes them open to the modern denial of wallet attacks. In order to mitigate these sometimes all together, you can even function self-protection to detect the probable attacks, then also minimize their impacts, and dynamically adjust scaling choices higher.

#5 Credentials and Secrets

Serverless security is best maintained with the credentials and secrets that are temporary. With the cloud provider key management service, which you can encrypt your secrets and retrieve them automatically when needed. Having permanent credentials can erupt risks in terms of third-party services and cross-account integrations. Also, there are some other tools that can effectively manage your secrets within a serverless environment.

#6 Continuous Integration

Seamless distribution of a new code with the help of automation, which can make sure a well-defined deployment with the smallest error and manual interference. Automation of the processes makes way for the continuous integration and deployment cycles that are even scrutinized with a comprehensive series of testing, scanning, and code analyzing.

#7 DevOps Workflow

Keeping the DevOps team in the massive loop of your higher security higher part of adds another layer of protection to your serverless. You can even integrate the security tool stack with the DevOps workflow and make sure the timely detection of any threats which can be easily prevented with the capabilities of DevOps.

Some of the serverless security companies:

  • Protego
  • PureSec
  • Snyk
  • Aqua
  • Twistlock


Being one of the new technologies for many of the serverless security remains an issue yet to be addressed with maturity. It sometimes also requires a range of civil actions to be taken for the application development lifecycle to be a huge success. Moreover, with these best practices and a stack of tools, an organization can build and integrate serverless environments without hesitation.

Share This Article
Passionate Tech Blogger on Emerging Technologies, which brings revolutionary changes to the People life.., Interested to explore latest Gadgets, Saas Programs