Azure Functions Security

With Azure Functions, a serverless platform provided by Microsoft Azure, developers can simply deploy code to run a job–without knowing anything about the underlying infrastructure or operating system. The Azure Functions platform takes care of managing the deployment environment, intelligently responding to potential incidents, such as data in a message queue or changes within a data stream.

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The Cloud Shared Responsibility Model

Cloud computing allows companies to outsource the responsibility for hosting and maintaining their underlying infrastructure to a third-party cloud services provider. This enables the company to take advantage of the various benefits of the cloud and hand over responsibility for securing this underlying infrastructure to the cloud provider.

However, under the cloud shared responsibility model, the cloud provider does not take full responsibility for a customer’s cloud deployment. Depending on the cloud model used (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, etc.), the customer has access to and control over certain levels of its cloud infrastructure stack. In addition to configuring and maintaining these levels, the customer is responsible for adequately securing them.

What is Serverless Security?

Taking full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing requires deploying cloud-native solutions. Serverless applications, such as Azure Functions, run in an environment where the cloud provider manages the entire infrastructure stack rather than the customer, creating a managed environment for developers to deploy and execute code within.

The design of serverless functions and environments creates unique security risks. For example, serverless functions are applications that are only active when responding to a particular event, making them difficult to effectively monitor with traditional security solutions. Serverless security provides security tailored to the unique needs and security challenges of Azure Functions and other serverless applications.

The Importance of Azure Functions Security

As a company more fully adopts Microsoft Azure, legacy applications that may have been “lifted and shifted” will likely be reengineered to be cloud-native serverless applications, and new development will take full advantage of the serverless ecosystem. As a result, a company will have a growing number of serverless applications.

These applications may have access to sensitive information and implement core components of an organization’s IT solutions. Implementing strong Azure Functions security can be essential to preventing data breaches, disruption of critical services, and other potential threats to an organization’s operations.

Azure Functions Security Best Practices

Serverless applications like Azure Functions face many of the same security threats as non-serverless applications. However, serverless functions also have unique security risks and best practices for managing them. 

Some of these best practices include the following:

  1. Validate Untrusted Input: Injection attacks are one of the biggest threats to application security, and these vulnerabilities exist because applications make assumptions about untrusted input without enforcing them. Validating input before processing it can protect Azure Functions and other applications against injection attacks.
  2. Implement Least Privilege: If an Azure Function has an exploitable vulnerability, then an attacker may take advantage of this to access sensitive data or other corporate IT assets. Restricting Azure Functions’ access to only what is required for its role helps to minimize the impact of an attack or other issue with the application.
  3. Manage Supply Chain Risks: Applications commonly rely upon a variety of third-party libraries and other external dependencies, which may contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by an attacker. Monitoring dependencies for security updates and installing them promptly is essential to maintaining the security of the applications that rely upon them.
  4. Secure Cloud Storage: Azure Functions are usually stateless and rely on cloud storage to maintain important state data; however, cloud data security is a common challenge for organizations. Restricting access to cloud data storage is essential to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of serverless functions’ data.
  5. Protect Function Secrets: Azure Functions may need access to secret information, such as cryptographic keys, API keys, and other data. This data must be securely stored and not placed in plaintext configuration files or environment variables that may be accessible to an attacker.
  6. Enforce Zero-Trust Security: Serverless applications are designed to be interconnected. Since some may be public-facing and others may access critical data and functionality, weak authentication and access management practices may leave critical functions vulnerable to attack. Authentication and authorization should be enforced under a zero-trust model where every access request is scrutinized and approved or denied based on least-privilege access controls.

Azure Functions Security with CloudGuard

Adopting serverless applications is vital to an organization’s ability to take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. However, serverless applications like Azure Functions come with unique security risks that companies must manage. Serverless security should be a core component of an organization’s Microsoft Azure security strategy.

To learn more about the top risks faced by serverless functions, check out the Serverless Security Risks and Mitigation Strategies ebook. Then, learn how to secure your organization’s Azure Functions with Check Point by signing up for a free demo of Check Point CloudGuard Workload today.

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