How to Secure Serverless Architectures in Public Clouds

November 27, 20235 min read

Serverless architectures in public clouds allow developers to focus on writing code without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. However, security becomes a shared responsibility, with cloud providers securing the infrastructure and users securing their applications. Proper security measures can help mitigate potential risks. Below are detailed strategies for securing serverless architectures in public clouds.

Understand the Shared Responsibility Model

  • Cloud Provider Responsibilities: Cloud service providers (CSPs) are responsible for the security of the cloud infrastructure.
  • Client Responsibilities: Users are responsible for securing the code, data, and other resources they run within the cloud environment.

Secure the Application Development Lifecycle

  • Use DevSecOps Practices: Incorporate security into every phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
  • Code Analysis: Employ static and dynamic code analysis tools to detect vulnerabilities.
  • Dependency Management: Regularly update third-party libraries and dependencies to include security patches.

Implement Robust Authentication and Authorization

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM):
    • Limit privileges with the principle of least privilege (PoLP).
    • Use IAM roles for function execution rather than long-term credentials.
    • Enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all users accessing the serverless environment.
  • Resource-Based Policies:
    • Define and attach resource-based policies to services (e.g., AWS Lambda function policies) to control what actions can be performed on them.

Secure Application Secrets

  • Manage Secrets: Store sensitive information such as database passwords, API keys, and credentials using key management services (e.g., AWS Secrets Manager, Azure Key Vault).
  • Encrypt Secrets: Ensure all secrets are encrypted during transmission and at rest.
  • Rotate Secrets Regularly: Automate the process of secret rotation to reduce the risk of compromised credentials.

Use API Gateways and Service Endpoints

  • API Gateways:
    • Employ API gateways for managing, securing, and monitoring APIs.
    • Utilize throttling to mitigate DDoS attacks and misuse.
    • Enable CORS policy (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) to control which domains are allowed to access your APIs.
  • Private Endpoints:
    • Leverage private endpoints whenever possible to reduce exposure to risky internet traffic.

Monitor and Log Activity

  • Continuous Monitoring: Use cloud provider tools (e.g., Amazon CloudWatch, Azure Monitor) to keep an ongoing eye on the serverless environment.
  • Log Management:
    • Enable logging of all function-invocations and related events.
    • Use log analysis tools to detect and alert on suspicious activities.
  • Audit Trails: Implement strong audit trails and keep them secure for forensic analysis in case of incidents.

Secure Data Storage and Transmission

  • Data Encryption:
    • Encrypt sensitive data at rest using built-in service encryption or third-party tools.
    • Use secure protocols (e.g., TLS) for data in transit.
  • Data Residency:
    • Be aware of data residency and compliance requirements that might dictate where data should be stored geographically.

Automate Compliance and Security Policies

  • Policy as Code: Utilize Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to define and automate security baselines and compliance policies.
  • Regular Audits:
    • Conduct automated compliance audits using cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools.
    • Remediate any findings to ensure compliance with security policies and standards.

Incident Response Planning

  • Develop an Incident Response Plan: Have a plan that details how to respond to security incidents in the serverless environment.
  • Forensic Readiness:
    • Ensure you have the necessary tools and processes to gather evidence in the event of an incident.
    • Keep logs and snapshots securely for analysis.

Secure Third-party Dependencies and Integrations

  • Security Assessments: Regularly assess the security posture of any third-party services integrated with your serverless environment.
  • Service Meshes: Use service meshes to control and secure communication between services.

Train and Educate Your Team

  • Security Training: Invest in security awareness and training for your development teams to ensure they understand the importance of secure coding practices.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest security threats and best practices tailored to serverless architectures.

Securing serverless architectures in public clouds requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses various security measures throughout the application lifecycle. Implementing the strategies outlined here can greatly enhance the security posture of your serverless deployments while letting you leverage the benefits of cloud-native technologies.