Best Practices to Mitigate Serverless Security Threats

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Against the backdrop of today’s ever-evolving threat landscape, many individuals and organizations are now opting for serverless computing. Alongside the security reasons driving the transition to serverless computing, technology also plays a crucial role in altering how applications are developed and distributed. As businesses become increasingly digitized, serverless computing can prove to be a game-changer.

Despite the multiple benefits that serverless computing offers, there is still an arsenal of threats associated with the tech. The most significant security concern that companies face is whether the amalgamation of serverless computing weakens the security infrastructure. As serverless computing is still a relatively new concept, few individuals are familiar with the vulnerabilities that plague the thousands of benefits that serverless computing otherwise offers.

Before delving deeper into the security threats associated with serverless computing, it is only fair to analyze the digital environment that allowed serverless architecture to foster and grow.

How Serverless Computing Helps Businesses to Grow?

As the business and digital landscapes intertwine, serverless computing can smoothen the transition to the cloud without worrying about the resources being used at such a large scale. Companies can expand their traditional infrastructure into the cloud across public and private cloud-based environments by leveraging serverless architecture.

Amidst the hyper-digitized world of today, serverless computing has bridged the gap between digital transformations’ potential and their real-time implementation. By including serverless computing with an organization’s IT environment, they can fully embrace and welcome the benefits of digitization and leverage the advantages of newer technologies — such as DevOps.

On the contrary to what the term ‘serverless computing’ suggests, it is worth mentioning that serverless architecture doesn’t correctly function without a server. Instead, the software code is outsourced to the cloud-based infrastructure in serverless computing. Once the code reaches the cloud provider’s infrastructure, the application is sent for execution, based on all the individual and immediate requests.

With implementing a serverless computing model, companies rely on cloud providers such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services for resource allocation and the overall management of their platform. An unprecedented advantage of taking such an approach is that companies can exercise flexibility in their pricing. Instead of investing a massive amount of money in the pre-purchase of capacity units, organizations only need to pay for the resources they consume — which is a much more cost-effective alternative.

How Can Serverless Security Threats Be Mitigated?

When it comes to circumventing the multiple threats and vulnerabilities targeting them, most organizations overlook the dire consequences that a cyberattack can have, giving them leeway for not exercising effective cybersecurity measures.

Bearing witness to the significant damage that a cyberattack can cause is the fact that the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center received a whopping 23,775 complaints about compromised emails alone. Moreover, 96% of the social engineering attacks are by email, 3% occur through a website, and 1% through SMS or phone calls.

Furthermore, the havoc that cybercrimes can cause on organizations was also represented in a global cyber risk perception survey conducted by Microsoft, revealing that a staggering 79 percent of respondents stated that cyberattacks/threats were their most significant security concern.

Considering the vast financial toll that cyber threats can have on a company, mentioned below are ways organizations can mitigate the threats posed to their serverless computing systems.

1. Maintaining an Efficient Logging and Monitoring System

Efficiently monitoring and keeping tabs on a serverless computing system might come with its fair share of challenges. It is much better than going the alternative way. If you don’t have a sound monitoring system and a contextual logging mechanism that accounts for the where and how of the situation, you run the massive risk of decreasing awareness.

Furthermore, without efficient logging and monitoring, companies reduce their ability to respond to threats promptly, along with running the possibility of a broken application, without so much as a clue of what went wrong in development.

Companies can still maintain efficient logging and monitoring despite the hurdles that arise by leveraging additional support from cloud service providers. For example, if an organization uses AWS, they can utilize the AWS X-Ray feature, which maximizes transparency into serverless execution by making logs more accessible and visualizing the execution path beforehand. Alternatively, another cloud provider named CloudWatch offers features that enable logging and monitoring and make threat detection much quicker.

2. Utilizing Built-in Solutions for User Authentication

Considering the financial losses that result in the aftermath of a cyberattack, the significance of identifying the users accessing your organization becomes blatantly apparent. Due to serverless technology’s nature, users can access many events and functions within a system, so it is critical to install authentication systems.

To boost user authentication and verify the identities of those accessing confidential data, companies can leverage built-in solutions, such as the AWS Cognito feature. It is worth mentioning that malicious agents can still sneak their way into an enterprise’s network by leveraging S3 buckets through public read access, so we’d suggest that you keep your public read access disabled.

3. Staying Vigilant Against ‘Wallet-Busting’ Attacks

With serverless computing, most of the features that offer businesses’ benefits can quickly be turned on their heels to cause damage instead. In some instances, certain features of serverless architecture can be exploited to launch highly sophisticated attacks, such as Denial of Wallet (DoW) and Denial of Service (DoS).

Although these attacks are relatively common, to circumvent the dangers posed by these attacks, companies can introduce specific measures like educating on internet security, which might help to minimize the risk. Another such effort is setting budget limits based on your company’s current spending and limiting the number of API requests in a specific time window.

4. Safeguarding Against Data Injection

Amidst today’s complex digital landscape, data injection flaws can occur from the highest levels when an injection flaw is passed directly to an interpreter before being executed or evaluated. However, data injections aren’t limited to direct user input in a serverless architecture. Instead, an arsenal of sources is available for event-data injections in a serverless computing environment.

Typically, these data injections include everything from NoSQL database events, code changes to cloud storage events and HTTP API calls. To protect against these data injections that could render a business useless, companies need to invest in protection tools that focus on code integrity, tight permissions, and performing a behavioral analysis of the system.

5. Limiting Third-Party Influence

As already mentioned above, monitoring and keeping tabs on a serverless computing-based system is tricky. However, a reliance on third-party software such as open-source libraries only adds to that difficulty, securing serverless-based architecture near impossible.

Fortunately, companies can avoid, or limit third-party influence, by alternatively deriving components from reliable sources through official links only.


At the end of the article, hopefully, readers are now clear about the security threats posed by serverless computing and equipped with the ability to mitigate these threats!