Azure Serverless Security: Fortifying Your Cloud

Monika Stando
Monika Stando
Marketing & Growth Lead
July 10
11 min
Table of Contents

As we continue to embrace the digital age, cloud computing has become an integral part of businesses worldwide. Among the key players in this realm, Microsoft Azure stands out with its robust serverless architecture. But with great power comes great responsibility – namely, the need for stringent security measures.

What is serverless security?

Serverless security refers to the measures, practices, and tools used to protect serverless architecture from potential threats and vulnerabilities. In a serverless architecture, the cloud provider manages the server infrastructure, which includes physical hardware, the virtualization layer, and even the operating system. Developers only need to focus on writing their application code.

Effective serverless security involves managing these risks through a combination of best practices, such as least privilege access, secure coding practices, regular vulnerability scanning, and comprehensive logging and monitoring. Many cloud providers also offer built-in security features, like AWS Lambda’s function policies and Azure Function’s managed identities, to help secure serverless applications.


What is Azure Serverless Security?

Azure serverless security is a critical aspect of using Azure Functions, Microsoft Azure’s serverless computing platform. The security measures for this service are designed to protect applications and quickly identify potential threats.


What is Azure Functions?

Azure Functions is a serverless computing service provided by Microsoft as part of the Azure cloud platform. It allows developers to write and execute code in response to specific events or triggers without having to provision or manage infrastructure.


Key features of Azure Functions include

  • Event-Driven Execution: Functions can be triggered by a variety of events, such as changes to data in an Azure database, incoming HTTP requests, specific schedules, or messages from a queue.
  • Choice of Language: Azure Functions supports multiple programming languages, including C#, Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, and PowerShell.
  • Automatic Scaling: Azure Functions automatically scales up and down to meet demand, making it suitable for workloads with variable demand.
  • Integrated Security: Azure Functions integrates with Azure Active Directory, allowing developers to authenticate users and restrict access to functions.
  • Built-In Integration: Azure Functions provides built-in integration with many Azure and third-party services, enabling developers to easily connect their functions to other services.
  • Pay-Per-Execution Pricing Model: With Azure Functions, you only pay for the time your functions are running, making it a cost-effective choice for many use cases.
  • Stateful Functions: With Durable Functions, an extension of Azure Functions, you can write stateful functions in a serverless environment that maintain their state even during function invocations.

Azure Functions can be used for a wide range of applications, from microservices, data processing, and real-time file processing to scheduled tasks and IoT device telemetry processing.


The Shared Responsibility Model

It’s important to note that while Azure provides a robust set of security features, it operates on a shared responsibility model. This means that while Azure is responsible for the security of its infrastructure, customers are responsible for securing their applications and data within Azure. This might involve practices like regularly reviewing access rights, keeping function code secure, and promptly updating or patching software when necessary.

The Shared Responsibility Model is a framework that outlines the security obligations of cloud service providers (CSPs) and their users to ensure accountability. In this model, the responsibility for different aspects of security management is divided between the CSP and the customer.

For example, providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure are typically responsible for securing the infrastructure that runs their cloud services. This includes elements like hardware, software, networking, and facilities.

Meanwhile, the customer is usually responsible for protecting the security of their data, identities, on-premises resources, and the cloud components they control. This might include securing their code and the tools they use to deliver applications to the cloud.

Essentially, while the cloud provider ensures the security “of the Cloud”, customers are responsible for their security “in the Cloud”. The model emphasizes that both parties have an important role to play in maintaining overall cloud security.


Azure Serverless Security: In what projects does it excel?

Some examples of projects where Azure serverless security excels

Microservices Architecture:
Azure serverless security is often used in microservices architectures where each function acts as an independent microservice. This allows for efficient scaling and fault isolation. Azure Functions provide multiple levels of security, including function-level and function app level. Function keys are used to provide access to functions, and these keys are encrypted and stored in Azure.

Real-time Data Processing:
Azure serverless can securely process real-time data from a variety of sources. For example, a company could use Azure Functions to clean and transform data being moved into a data warehouse. All data at rest and in transit is automatically encrypted, providing an additional layer of security.

IoT Applications:
IoT applications often involve processing large amounts of data from various devices. Azure serverless can handle this data securely. The Azure IoT Hub provides built-in security features such as per-device authentication and secure connectivity, ensuring that only trusted devices can connect.

Web APIs:
Azure serverless is often used to build and deploy APIs. These APIs can be secured using Azure Active Directory and API Management, which provides features like rate limiting, IP filtering, and authentication.

E-commerce Applications:
Serverless architecture can be used to build scalable and secure e-commerce applications. For example, a shopping cart function could be built using Azure Functions and Cosmos DB, with Azure Active Directory B2C providing identity management and user authentication.

Remember, while Azure provides a robust set of security features, it operates on a shared responsibility model. This means that while Azure is responsible for the security of its infrastructure, customers are responsible for securing their applications and data within Azure.


What are the greatest benefits of Azure serverless security?

Azure serverless security provides several significant benefits that make it an attractive option for businesses and developers. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Reduced Operational Complexity: With Azure managing the underlying infrastructure, businesses can focus on developing their applications without worrying about operating system patches, firewall rules, or server maintenance.
  • Scalability: Azure serverless offerings scale automatically to meet demand. This scalability extends to security as well, as Azure manages the security of the infrastructure that scales with your application.
  • Cost Efficiency: You only pay for what you use in a serverless architecture, which includes security management. There’s no need to pay for idle server time or unused capacity.
  • Managed Identity and Access Control: Azure Active Directory integration provides robust identity and access management capabilities. It helps ensure that only authorized users and services can access your serverless functions.
  • Data Protection: Azure provides automatic encryption for data at rest and in transit. This built-in data protection helps secure your data without requiring additional effort from your development team.
  • Secure Development Tools: Azure provides a range of tools and services that help developers write secure code and identify potential vulnerabilities before they become problems.
  • Compliance: Azure has a broad set of compliance offerings and is compliant with regulations across many industries and regions. This makes it easier for businesses to meet their compliance obligations when using Azure serverless offerings.
  • Monitoring and Threat Detection: Azure Security Center provides unified security management and advanced threat protection across hybrid cloud workloads. It gives you full visibility into your serverless applications’ security status.

Remember, while Azure Serverless Security provides a robust set of features and benefits, it’s crucial to follow best security practices and stay updated on the latest security recommendations from Azure to ensure your serverless applications are as secure as possible.


What are the loops in Azure serverless security?

Generally, when discussing “loops” in the context of serverless security, it typically refers to potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses in the security strategy that could be exploited by malicious parties.

In the context of Azure serverless security, some potential “loops” or concerns might include:

  • Function-Level Access Control: If not properly managed, function-level access control could be a potential loophole. Azure Functions use keys for authorization, and if these keys are exposed, it could lead to unauthorized access.
  • Dependency Vulnerabilities: Azure Functions, like any other application, can have dependencies on third-party libraries. If these libraries have known vulnerabilities and are not regularly updated, they could provide a loophole for attackers.
  • Insecure Application Secrets: Secrets used by your serverless applications, such as connection strings or API keys, need to be securely managed. Storing secrets in code or configuration files could create security loopholes. Azure Key Vault should be used for managing application secrets.
  • Insufficient Logging and Monitoring: Without proper logging and monitoring, detecting security incidents can be difficult. This could potentially provide a loophole for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities undetected.
  • Misconfiguration: Misconfiguration of cloud resources is a common issue that can lead to security loopholes. It’s important to follow best practices for securing serverless applications on Azure.

Remember, it’s crucial to follow best security practices and stay updated on the latest security recommendations from Azure to minimize potential security loopholes.

The best practices for Azure serverless security

Here are some of the best practices for Azure serverless security:

  • Secure your code: Keep your code as secure as possible by following coding best practices and conducting regular code reviews.
  • Input Validation: Always validate input to prevent issues like SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS). Don’t trust incoming data until it has been validated.
  • HTTP Endpoints Security: Secure HTTP endpoints for development, testing, and production. Use SSL to secure your HTTP endpoints and restrict who can access your Function App by using Azure Active Directory.
  • Least Privilege Principle: Follow the principle of least privilege. Assign the least amount of privilege necessary to users, applications, and services to reduce the potential impact of a breach. You can use Azure role-based access control (RBAC) to manage access to resources in Azure.
  • Monitor 3rd-Party Dependencies: Monitor third-party dependencies for any potential vulnerabilities. Regularly update these dependencies to minimize the risk of known vulnerabilities.
  • Manage Privileged Accounts and Credentials: In serverless computing, there is a risk around authentication to the application and back-end systems. Manage all privileged accounts and credentials securely. Use Azure Key Vault to manage application secrets like connection strings, API keys, or credentials.
  • Use API Gateways as Security Buffers: Use API gateways to provide an additional layer of security. They can protect your serverless functions from public exposure and provide features like rate limiting, IP filtering, and authentication.
  • Ensure Data Separation and Secure Configurations: Make sure that there is a clear separation of data and that all configurations are secure. Encrypt data at rest and in transit.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits to identify and fix any potential security issues. Use built-in Azure tools like Azure Security Center for continuous security-health monitoring and threat detection.
  • Disaster Recovery Plan: Have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place. This includes regularly backing up data and having a clear plan for how to recover in case of a disaster.

These practices will help ensure the security of your serverless applications in Azure.


Azure serverless security vs. AWS serverless security

Both Azure and AWS offer comprehensive security features for their serverless offerings – Azure Functions and AWS Lambda respectively. Here are some key aspects for comparison:


Identity and Access Management:

Azure: Uses Azure Active Directory for identity management, allowing you to manage access to your Azure resources.

AWS: Utilizes AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), providing similar control over user access to AWS services and resources.


Secure Networking:

Azure: Offers Azure Virtual Network to isolate serverless functions and control inbound and outbound traffic.

AWS: Provides Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) that allows you to launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define.


Data Protection:

Azure: Data at rest and in transit is automatically encrypted. Azure Key Vault is used for managing cryptographic keys and other secrets.

AWS: Also provides automatic encryption for data at rest and in transit. For secret management, AWS offers AWS Key Management Service (KMS).


Threat Protection:

Azure: Uses Azure Security Center, which continuously monitors your functions to detect threats.

AWS: Uses AWS Shield for DDoS protection, AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) for application-level protection, and Amazon GuardDuty for threat detection.


Monitoring and Auditing:

Azure: Provides Azure Monitor and Azure Activity Log for insights into resource performance and management.

AWS: Offers Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring resource utilization and operational performance, and AWS CloudTrail for governance, compliance, and auditing resource usage.



Both Azure and AWS offer a wide range of compliance offerings, including certifications and attestations for global, regional, and industry-specific compliance standards.


Remember, the choice between Azure and AWS often depends on your specific requirements, existing system investments, skill sets, and business needs. Both platforms have strong security offerings and operate under a shared responsibility model for security. Remember that you can operate in hybrid or multi-cloud model. To match the best solutions for your business needs see our consulting services and feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help.

Monika Stando
Monika Stando
Marketing & Growth Lead
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