Importance of Security in Serverless Technologies

Importance of Security in Serverless Technologies

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Serverless architecture allows a company to focus on the innovative and creative, leaving the tedious routine work to remote overseas experts. When outsourcing mundane tasks to remote teams, you can channel your energy towards user experience instead of taking care of infrastructure. It gives you creative freedom, lowers the costs, shortens time to market, saves essential resources, and enables scalable platforms.

However, while serverless architecture has shown to be in high demand, it comes with its risks and disadvantages. Which pitfalls should you avoid, and which risks should you mitigate to build a stable serverless system? In this article, we will discuss the challenges of serverless security.

What is The Model Of Security in Serverless Architecture?

Serverless Architecture enforces a brand-new value system — the shared responsibility model. Within this concept, the cloud vendor and the developer share the responsibility throughout the entire workflow.

The cloud provider is liable for the security of cloud components — the vendor stores data, monitors network elements, takes care of the operating system. The developer is responsible for what’s in the cloud — the customer secures application logic and code as well as customer data. This security model for serverless computing creates a joint responsibility that inevitably complicates the process.

Threats in Serverless Security

Event injection

First, the development team can’t keep all the nuances of serverless architectures in mind as opposed to the common web climates where they are aware which events inputs should not be trusted. Second, SA provides a large scope of event sources that can set off a serverless function. Once a dubious input gets executed, it’ll lead to an event injection.

Over-privileged permissions

Another threat that security with serverless brings with it is the overextended access to permissions. When granting permissions for particular serverless functions, be sure to minimize them according to the task assigned. On top of that, constantly monitor the functions for suspicious activities to avoid security breaches.

Poor logging & monitoring

Any application has to have a sustainable monitoring and logging mechanism. The lack of such systems might lead to unwanted charges in your AWS check. Moreover, if your application breaks, you will have no clue what went wrong and how to fix it.

Higher attack risk

Constant interaction with third-party services exposes the data and leads to more vulnerabilities in serverless computing security. The more data you share and exchange, the higher the risk of a cyberattack. Attackers might try to target sensitive information from cloud storage, which needs to be protected.

Broken authentication

Since an application is available in the cloud, anyone can attempt to access it, regardless of their intentions. Your goal is to provide a good user experience to the customers while also cutting off unwanted guests. Serverless applications are highly accessible, making them an easy target for hackers, unlike traditional server-based platforms.

Budget exhaustion

Autoscaling is one of the best features of serverless architecture, allowing you to pay only for what you actually use through automated scaling. However, it puts the serverless application security in jeopardy by triggering the new generation of cyberattacks called Denial of Wallet. It creates the flow of fake requests which invokes the automated upscaling and exhausts your budget.

Shadow APIs

Uploaded to the public cloud, APIs become available to hackers, which provokes cyberattacks. On top of that, some of these attacks are invisible to traditional security tools.

6 Ways Serverless Can Improve Security

Evaluate serverless functions against possible dangerous inputs

Even if you think that you can trust the source, it is essential to be especially careful about checking every piece of data and evaluate them against dangerous inputs. Sometimes, even the best programmers might overlook rare data patterns like local file inclusion attacks, which makes the system vulnerable and leads to security breaches in serverless computing.

Minimize the privileges adequate to the task

The principle of the least privilege will help you avoid imperiling functions in serverless applications. Use the opportunity to grant rights to individual functions and make sure the permissions are restricted to the smallest possible scope. This will mitigate the risk of an attack and make the workflow more manageable and responsibilities more transparent.

Consider third-party monitoring and logging tools

For better security for serverless applications and possible threat detection, it is highly recommended to collect real-time security events. Implement a serverless-native monitoring system, or trust a third-party solution for a better monitoring tool. Take advantage of AWS services like AWS X-Ray, Amazon CloudWatch, and Amazon CloudTrail for quality logging and monitoring systems.

Reduce the storage of high-risk data

Another crucial serverless architecture and security problem is the unwanted display of sensitive data. Pinpoint the most vulnerable data, minimize its storage, and encrypt all the data that will be shared and exchanged frequently or exposed to third-party services.

Enforce authentication

You can save an immense amount of valuable time on creating a complex authentication system on your serverless security platform, by using the convenient access management tools like Microsoft’s Azure AD. In addition to that, you can introduce an extra step in the security check process for altering information that can be potentially hazardous and destroy or modify data.

Set budget limit

Try to avoid the consequences of a Denial of Wallet attack by limiting your budget. Additionally, to enhance the security in serverless computing, you can implement a restriction on the number of requests a client can make in a given period. Finally, make the internal API gateways private and unavailable for hacker attacks.

Serverless security concerns motivate people to come up with new technologies, expand the range of modern tools, and seek new cyberattack mitigation methods. Let’s talk about the upcoming security trends in 2020.

#1 Tools for adopting serverless will become more available

As mentioned before, there are a number of serious security problems that developers are trying to eliminate. That makes big corporations like Google work on secure and transparent technology to ensure safety and usability. Further, applications for smooth adoption of the serverless technologies are being put in place. For example, Dashbird helps you monitor and detect any potential failures and malfunctions in the apps.

#2 Serverless will become standardized

Being a relatively new and unexplored technology, serverless architecture lacks standardization, which Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) is ready to provide. CNCF offers an opportunity to build sustainable ecosystems and encourages organizations to create scalable applications in the modern environment. There is an urgent need for best practices, tools, and utilities to build an extensive framework that will drive innovation and put serverless computing on the next level.

#3 Hybrid IT landscape

While serverless computing is a drastically increasing model, one shouldn’t overlook the advantage of traditional models. Experts suggest that the future will create more hybrid solutions, because apps will run on data centers while others on the public cloud. Due to this integration, the serverless architecture will increase in popularity and provide more useful features.


So, why is serverless security important? Due to its innovative nature and hidden pitfalls, it remains complex and overwhelmingly diverse for many programmers. Implementing the recommendations mentioned above is crucial to stay afloat and avoid economic losses.

If you find serverless architecture too complicated, especially if you are a small business or a startup, it is highly advised to seek professional help from experts. The TechMagic team of professionals has been an official serverless dev partner since 2018 and has years of experience at its disposal. We’ve excelled in serverless computing and its security, internet of things, and high-availability applications. Check out the AWS and serverless architecture case studies and learn more about the services TechMagic has to offer.

Mike Butusov
Mike Butusov
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Head of Marketing at TechMagic. Passionate about startups, digital ecosystem, cloud technologies, and innovations.
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TechMagic is a software and web development company from Lviv, Ukraine that builds dedicated teams skilled in JavaScript, Node.js, Angular, React, AWS, Serverless, and Salesforce.
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