Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

1/17/2018
04:27 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Where to Find Security Holes in Serverless Architecture

Serverless architectures take away business responsibility for server management, but security should still be top of mind.

Application security is getting a twist with the rise of serverless architectures, which introduce a new way of developing and managing applications - and a new wave of related security risks.

Serverless architectures, also known as Function as a Service (FaaS), let businesses build and deploy software without maintaining physical or virtual servers. That's the job of providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM, which run popular serverless architectures AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions, and IBM BlueMix Cloud Functions, respectively.

A common use case for serverless applications is altering media files. If someone uploads a file to an AWS S3 bucket, an application can invoke a function to automatically resize the image. If someone sends an SMS in a chatbot application, a separate function could send a return SMS.

Businesses are looking to serverless architectures to drive simplicity and reduce cost. Applications built on these platforms scale as cloud workloads grow, so developers can focus on product functionality without worrying about the operating system, application server, or software runtime environment, explains Ory Segal, PureSec CTO.

"You can stitch together applications that are events-driven, and at the same time you don't have to manage any of the infrastructure - it automatically scales," says Segal. "If there's one event, one function will get evoked. If there's [more], then the provider is responsible for [supporting] as many functions as you need events."

Billing is based on CPU time, he says of the cost benefit. If there's no computing being done, the organization doesn't pay for anything. Vendors charge per 100 milliseconds of compute. "It's very simple to develop in serverless, it's very cheap to develop in serverless," he adds.

The Security Risks of Serverless

However simple and cost-effective, this architecture has its security issues. Serverless applications are still at risk for breaches and traditional security solutions are not relevant in this space, says Segal. Users hand over the responsibility of security patches to providers.

PureSec today published its "Serverless Architectures Security Top 10," a list of security risks in these services. Researchers compiled scans from more than 5,000 serverless projects on GitHub, serverless projects using algorithms created by PureSec, and partner data and insights.

"There's a big chunk of IT security that is now the responsibility of the cloud provider," he explains, adding that security admins can't install tools like antivirus, firewalls, and IDS. "You don't control the environment. You don't control the network, you don't control the servers."

Major security issues include a larger attack surface. Serverless functions pull data from a broad range of event sources (HTTP APIs, cloud storage, IoT device communications), which increases the attack surface when messages can't be scanned by Web application firewalls. Given the newness of serverless architecture, the attack surface can also be complex to understand.

PureSec's Top 10 list digs into specific risks. The first, and most critical, is Function Event-Data injection. Injection flaws are a common risk, but in serverless architecture they're not limited to direct user input. Serverless functions can take input from any type of event source (cloud storage, SQL database) and each input could be controlled by an attacker.

The second most-critical risk is Broken Authentication. Serverless applications can pack dozens to hundreds of different functions. Some may glue processes together; others may consume events of different source types. Applying robust authentication is necessary and complicated. Users must secure the serverless function and the applications with which it interacts.

"A weak authentication implementation might enable an attacker to bypass application logic and manipulate its flow," the report explains. This could let an attacker execute functions and perform actions that weren't supposed to be exposed to unauthenticated users. PureSec advises businesses to use the authentication tools provided by their serverless environment.

The growth of serverless architecture is introducing a "paradigm shift" in security, Segal says. "If we used to secure the infrastructure, the perimeter, the network, we now have to secure the serverless execution itself." Developers are responsible for designing robust applications and ensuring their code doesn't introduce any vulnerabilities to the application layer.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
Browsers to Enforce Shorter Certificate Life Spans: What Businesses Should Know
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-17366
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
An issue was discovered in NLnet Labs Routinator 0.1.0 through 0.7.1. It allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions or to cause a denial of service on dependent routing systems by strategically withholding RPKI Route Origin Authorisation ".roa" files or X509 Certificate...
CVE-2020-9036
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Jeedom through 4.0.38 allows XSS.
CVE-2020-15127
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Contour ( Ingress controller for Kubernetes) before version 1.7.0, a bad actor can shut down all instances of Envoy, essentially killing the entire ingress data plane. GET requests to /shutdown on port 8090 of the Envoy pod initiate Envoy's shutdown procedure. The shutdown procedure includes flip...
CVE-2020-15132
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Sulu before versions 1.6.35, 2.0.10, and 2.1.1, when the "Forget password" feature on the login screen is used, Sulu asks the user for a username or email address. If the given string is not found, a response with a `400` error code is returned, along with a error message saying that th...
CVE-2020-7298
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Unexpected behavior violation in McAfee Total Protection (MTP) prior to 16.0.R26 allows local users to turn off real time scanning via a specially crafted object making a specific function call.