Groundhog: Efficient Request Isolation in FaaS

EuroSys '23 Proceedings of the Eighteenth European Conference on Computer Systems(2023)

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Abstract
Security is a core responsibility for Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) providers. The prevailing approach isolates concurrent executions of functions in separate containers. However, successive invocations of the same function commonly reuse the runtime state of a previous invocation in order to avoid container cold-start delays. Although efficient, this container reuse has security implications for functions that are invoked on behalf of differently privileged users or administrative domains: bugs in a function's implementation - or a third-party library/runtime it depends on - may leak private data from one invocation of the function to a subsequent one. Groundhog isolates sequential invocations of a function by efficiently reverting to a clean state, free from any private data, after each invocation. The system exploits two properties of typical FaaS platforms: each container executes at most one function at a time and legitimate functions do not retain state across invocations. This enables Groundhog to efficiently snapshot and restore function state between invocations in a manner that is independent of the programming language/runtime and does not require any changes to existing functions, libraries, language runtimes, or OS kernels. We describe the design and implementation of Groundhog and its integration with OpenWhisk, a popular production-grade open-source FaaS framework. On three existing benchmark suites, Groundhog isolates sequential invocations with modest overhead on end-to-end latency (median: 1.5%, 95p: 7%) and throughput (median: 2.5%, 95p: 49.6%), relative to an insecure baseline that reuses the container and runtime state.
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Key words
Request isolation,Security,Snapshot,Checkpoint,Restore,Rollback,FaaS,Serverless
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