Securing Serverless Applications – What Organizations Need to Know

‘Function-as-a-service’ or serverless computing is a boon to several enterprises, simplifying the process of code development and deployment while enhancing server resource utilization and curtailing security overhead. Cloud providers are on their guard, heading toe-to-toe with security concerns, and as they identify and patch OS vulnerabilities, new attack surfaces are buoyed by new components. The term serverless computing is a controversy in itself and there is no clear definition to it, although being the latest trend in the industry.

While serverless designs are going mainstream in light of their undeniable business advantages, the misplaced assumption that serverless computing is secure has brought significant challenges. One of the important challenges to be addressed is to combat the myth – ‘providers take care of the security’ – after which the real work gets started.

Security in Serverless Computing

Provided with the infancy of serverless, security and development teams are struggling to understand and deal with the unique risks it entails. Several current-generation security systems depend on underlying servers, guest operating systems, virtual containers, virtual network interfaces, databases, and virtual machines. These underlying components are neither readily accessible nor persistent when application developers choose to implement a serverless infrastructure.

Several enterprise security teams are striving to come up with novel solutions that secure APIs and modern applications built on serverless frameworks like Google Cloud Functions, Azure Functions, and Amazon Lambda. DevOps teams are the early adopters of technology and innovators. Seeking permission to build apps with serverless is not required for DevOps teams and they are primary responders of security problems identified in serverless APIs and applications.

Serverless applications remain a blind spot for enterprise IT and security professionals. Security and IT teams have commenced weighing-in to gain increased visibility and actionable insights on new, potential risks, as organizations achieve experience and reap the financial advantages of serverless computing.

Potential Risks for Serverless Applications

Currently, most organizations are emphasizing the deployment of serverless architecture as they take their baby steps into this latest computing trend. The Cloud Security Alliance has drafted its new report – ‘The 12 Most Critical Risks for Serverless Applications 2019’ – to help IT organizations in successfully building reliable, secure, and robust applications. The drafted document offers intelligence on the most prominent risks for serverless architectures, namely,

  • Function event data injection
  • Broken authentication
  • Insecure serverless deployment configuration
  • Over-privileged function permissions and roles
  • Inadequate function logging and monitoring
  • Insecure third-party dependencies
  • Insecure application secret storage
  • Financial resource exhaustion and denial of services
  • Serverless business logic manipulation
  • Verbose error messages and improper exception handling
  • Event triggers, cloud resources, and obsolete functions
  • Cross-execution data persistency

The objective of security is to enable safe data handling, i.e., mapping out the organizational data in the serverless world. One may trust but has to verify the doings of their provider while monitoring their applications. Despite most of the issues that have been noted, it is not recommended to set policies to ebb serverless adoption. Organizations must focus on encouraging their security teams to allow businesses to benefit from new innovations with insightful data around risks.

Security teams must provide an automated analysis, which enables DevOps teams and software engineers to quickly discover & inspect all serverless and API services published and consumed by their organizations. These new APIs are considered to be the radical bond that interconnects serverless applications to all the other components.

How secure are your serverless apps? Allow our experts to do a complete check – for free! Book your serverless apps security audit here.

Leveraging the Public Cloud Under HIPAA Compliance

For organizations that transmit, store or manage electronic protected health information (ePHI), being updated on the HIPAA guidelines is of paramount importance. The Guidance on HIPAA & Cloud Computing published by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights and elaborates responsibilities of cloud service providers (CSPs), business associates (BAs), and covered entities (CEs).

There is an urging need for security and compliance in the cloud for the healthcare industry, as more cybercriminals specifically target the sector due to the critical information it involves. For organizations or agencies handling PHI, the HIPAA compliance requirements circle around protecting files and representing the file lifecycle details. The combination of document management systems and modern cloud-computing platforms has provided health organizations with a sigh of relief from the outdated protocols.

Opportunities Abound for Cloud Computing Circling HIPAA Guidelines

Cloud computing has been enabling healthcare organizations to grow, change, use and access ePHI databases for streamlined patient care. With the right compliance and security regulations surrounding HIPAA, possibilities that healthcare can achieve through cloud computing are endless. The widespread adoption and explosion of cloud computing solutions have raised questions among HIPAA covered business associates and entities about methods of leveraging the cloud. 

Compliance with regulations that keep the security and privacy of ePHI intact is a must-have for organizations. Indispensable protection norms have been established for the individually identifiable health information by HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. These include limitations on disclosures and uses of such information, individuals’ rights to their health information, and safeguards against disclosures and inappropriate uses.

Key Mandates under Document Management Systems and HIPAA Compliance

1. Records Management, Disposal, and Retention

HIPAA compliance requires organizations to retain patient documentation for a minimum of 6 years since its creation. Not only can the organization define retention rules and utilize custom metadata to pin retention start dates, but can also implement disposable norms during customization using DMS software. This way, the document either gets deleted manually or automatically. In addition, administrators with permissions are able to review files prior to their deletion and gain audit reports on disposals.

2. Audits

When an audit is on the roll, an organization’s patient files and documents must serve as detailed maps and be as transparent as possible. These files must represent the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of every activity. In case of any non-compliance, negligence, or fraud in the PHI files’ vicinity, organizations have to take immediate actions for getting as many insights into the issue as possible.

3. Access Management

For maintaining the HIPAA compliance standards, it is critical to possess centralized ownership of files, and DMS software makes this happen. The DMS software bestows organizations with the power to set levels of access based on titles, roles, and various other forms of permissions. DMS also prevents authorized users from getting access to private files and guards against modification or deletion of sensitive records. This further offers the goldilocks zone of security for the environments that maintain PHI or ePHI files. 

Compliance not only guards businesses against huge regulatory fines but also protects their reputation and minimizes risks. With HIPAA compliance, cloud computing provides technical dexterity and enables health organizations to gain a competitive edge in the rapidly advancing business landscape. Understanding HIPAA compliance can help organizations govern business associates and CSPs. They can also be capable of finding a reliable, compliance-friendly provider to fit their compliance needs and usability requirements.

Talk to our healthcare cloud & HIPAA experts. Book a free consultation here.

Cloud Database Hosting Touted to be the Right Choice for Organizations

Data is now the heart of business operations. Choosing the right platform for storing, processing, and managing this vital asset is a paramount decision for organizations to achieve success. The plight that follows is to choose between on-premise and cloud hosting. The on-premise tools are not the most fashionable solution for businesses, however, in some cases, these are considered to be better solutions for database hosting.

According to Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019, 73% of respondents deem public cloud in the security aspect, however, most organizations are worried over employees not following the policies implemented for data protection. How do you make sure which database hosting is right for your business? The following are some key factors that a business needs to consider while choosing between cloud and on-premise hosting.


Scalability is the key strength of cloud-based solutions, whereas on-premise solutions involve an exhaustive procurement process in case of extending capabilities. For business expecting rapid growth, opening new facilities or expanding to new territories, cloud database hosting is more useful. They are also valuable for businesses in industries like retail, which experience significant variations in activity along with scaling up on-demand.

Cost of Ownership

Several businesses have now gained greater experience and understanding of the cloud. It has been noted that despite cloud computing’s potential to be relatively inexpensive, the total cost of ownership must be considered instead of upfront expenses when compared with on-premise solutions. However, companies can benefit from cloud-based models in case of dealing with single operational expenses.


Cloud providers continue to mitigate concerns related to control differences between public and private deployments through record-level security protection. This is something that is not within the budget of several organizations that eye on-premise solutions. Economies of scale that the cloud offers is more beneficial for businesses having a limited budget.

Reliability and Speed

The reason why the on-premises solution has traditionally reigned the IT organizations is the presence of data within an organization, whenever needed. The responsibility of the infrastructure lies in the hands of the company and issues such as speed limitations, lag or latency caused by internet connectivity are eliminated. Currently, every established cloud provider offers a robust uptime guarantee and firms are entitled to compensation if the claims are not met. However, even a bit of leeway for downtime is unacceptable for organizations, which cloud providers understand well and continue to emphasize this as one of their top priorities.

The Move to Cloud Database Hosting

According to Gartner, nearly 75% of databases are poised to be migrated or deployed in a cloud platform sooner than we can guess. The consulting giant believes that operational systems are also migrating to the cloud, particularly with conversion to the SaaS application model. Major providers seem to agree with this assessment. Strong customer demand is encouraging these providers to enhance their autonomous capabilities.

The benefits of migrating databases to the cloud rely on choices made. The key to a successful migration is selecting the right service available in the market, which best fits your requirements. Securing your database on the public cloud will not only entail cost benefits but also improve various attributes of the database including security, scalability, data recovery, availability, and performance. 

As the trend of moving databases to the public cloud becomes more and more pervasive, the services running on these are becoming new data management platforms.

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