Security Is A Major Barrier To Going Serverless

Servers are vital pieces of IT infrastructure and have been for many years. Servers refer to computers that serve up information to other computers, called clients. Traditionally, servers have been on-prem solutions. While technically any computer with the right software can be a server, the term summons up images of large, powerful machines that function as the brains behind computer networks.

The idea, then, of going serverless sounds like it’s turning its back on literally decades of computing best practices. The term “server” dates at least back to the 1960s, so the suggestion of serverless computing appears to be a radical rethink of at least half a century of IT.

That’s partially true. Serverless computing is a revolution that’s gaining ground all the time. Since making its debut just over a decade ago, serverless computing has triggered a paradigm shift in the way that many organizations access services and other functions which previously required an on-prem solution.

Serverless computing rids organizations of the need to have a physical server on-premises; replacing it with a cloud computing-based execution model whereby machine resources can be allocated on demand – saving companies time and money while making scalability considerably easier. Despite the name, however, serverless computing does, in fact, involve servers – it’s just that, thanks to cloud computing, these are not located on-site or managed by the end-users. This means that they do not have to worry about areas like configuration, capacity planning, scaling of containers, and more.

In doing so, serverless computing has changed the way we access servers and made it a far simpler proposition for many customers. That’s not to say that it’s without its challenges, though. One of those challenges? Security. For those without the right serverless security protection measures, this can be the cause of problems.

The Security Challenge

Security is, for well-understood reasons, an enormously important area. Cyber attacks are on the rise, as more of us rely on connected infrastructure for everything from shopping to entertainment to remote work. With hackers looking to cause damage, it’s essential that solutions, such as serverless computing, provide adequate security measures to protect users.

There can be multiple security challenges that serverless computing may present. Security scanning, for instance, is currently more geared toward standard applications than serverless ones, with solutions such as SAST (Static Application Security Testing) facing difficulties when it comes to serverless deployments. Meanwhile, some parts of the standard security solution toolkit do not work effectively with serverless architectures, raising issues with areas like endpoint protection.

There can also be challenges when it comes to third-party libraries used for serverless apps (especially when it comes to the security updates needed to protect them), the increased attack surface area (since serverless architecture utilizes data from a greater range of possible event sources like APIs, HTTP, and Internet of Things devices), the configuration and storage of access files, and more.

In almost all cases, the problem is that serverless computing is still maturing – and the security options available for it. Cloud-based solutions can also pose a confusing challenge to many users, who do not fully appreciate that they need to think about security in serverless architecture, and not assume that this is completely taken care of by the serverless computing architecture. This can lead to them neglecting security as a factor, potentially putting their applications at risk. It might even stop people from adopting serverless computing solutions, to begin with, losing out on the myriad other advantages serverless can bring.

The Right Tools For Addressing Serverless Security Issues

To mitigate this risk, first and foremost, users should familiarize themselves with serverless environment configuration, and the various challenges that come along with it. This includes the type of threats that can present, including command injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery, SQL injection, database access violations, and far more.

They can also avail themselves of the right tools to help keep them safe in the world of serverless computing. Serverless protection tools can help to uncover whatever security blindspot might exist with their serverless functions, as well as offer them automated mitigation and visibility. By utilizing these technologies, it’s possible to close one of the main points of contention that may exist around serverless computing.

Serverless architecture offers no shortage of key advantages that can prove transformative to businesses. By addressing the critical issue of security, users get to benefit from the considerable advantages serverless has to offer – while negating the disadvantages. That’s got the potential to be a major boon to the future adoption of serverless technology. With the global serverless architecture market forecast to hit $25.49 billion by the year 2026, this is a market that’s only going to become an increasingly big part of the IT landscape. Plugging security issues is only going to help.

Featured image: Unsplash (Taylor Vick).