As the number of web-based attacks continues to grow, the importance of WAFs in modern software development cannot be overstated. By reducing the risk of data breaches and other types of attacks, a web app firewall can help organizations save time and money, and protect their reputation and customer trust.
In fact, according to research, the median prevention rate of a WAF is 80% when all measures have been employed. But WAFs offer more than just security benefits. They can also help developers comply with industry regulations and standards, such as the PCI DSS and HIPAA, by providing a layer of protection against common attack patterns. But what is a web application firewall in particular, and why is it so important?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of WAFs, from their key features and benefits to their “competitors”. We’ll also delve into helpful tips on how to choose the best fitting solution to protect your product in today’s software development landscape.
Firewalls and Security: What are the Main Threats?
According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. A significant portion of these costs is associated with cyberattacks on web apps, which can result in data breaches, financial losses, and damage to a company’s reputation. Let’s take a closer look at the threat landscape, most issues of which can be solved by a web application firewall.
SQL injection attacks: An attacker injects malicious SQL statements into a web application’s input fields, which can result in unauthorized access to sensitive data or the complete compromise of the database.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks: These are another common type of attack patterns that involves injecting malicious code to disrupt web application protection, affecting unsuspecting users who visit the affected site. This leads to the theft of sensitive data or the execution of malicious code on the user’s system.
Remote file inclusion (RFI) attacks: An attacker injects code into a web app that allows them to remotely execute code on the server. This can result in unauthorized access to sensitive data, the installation of malware, or the complete compromise of the server.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks: They involve overwhelming a web application with traffic to the point where it becomes unavailable. This causes the loss of revenue, decreased users’ trust, and disruption of business operations.
However, implementing a WAF can help protect against common attacks such as SQL injection, XSS, RFI, and DDoS attacks. By detecting and blocking malicious traffic, web application firewalls can help organizations secure their software and databases to avoid the costly consequences of a security breach.
What is Web Application Firewall, and Why is It so Important?
A web application firewall is a security solution that helps protect a company’s software from a variety of attack patterns. WAFs monitor incoming and outgoing web traffic and filter out any malicious activity that could potentially harm the application.
WAFs are important because web apps are a prime target for attackers. They often contain sensitive information, such as customer data or financial information, and are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This makes them vulnerable to attacks from hackers, bots, and other malicious actors.
Web app firewalls help mitigate these risks by providing an additional layer of protection against attacks that can exploit vulnerabilities in software. They can detect and block attacks in real-time, before any damage is caused. WAFs can also provide organizations with valuable insights into their security posture, by monitoring traffic and providing detailed reports on potential threats. Moreover, these aren’t the least web application firewall benefits. Let’s learn more about the types and deployment models of this website protection software.
Deployment Models of a Web Application Firewall
When it comes to deploying web application firewalls, there are several different models to consider.
- Cloud-based deployment: Such WAFs are hosted by a third-party provider and are typically delivered as a service. This means that organizations don’t need to purchase any software of hardware appliance, and can simply subscribe to the application firewall on a pay-as-you-go basis. A cloud WAF is easy to deploy, highly scalable, and can be updated automatically by the provider. They are also accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, making them a wonderful option for organizations with a distributed workforce.
- On-premise deployment: On-premise WAFs are installed and managed by the organization itself, and are typically hosted within the own data center. This model gives companies complete control over their WAF and can be customized to meet the client’s specific needs. On-premise web app firewalls can also provide higher levels of performance than cloud-based WAFs, as they are not subject to the limitations of network latency or bandwidth. However, on-premise solutions can be costly to deploy and maintain, and require IT staff with specialized expertise to manage.
- Hybrid deployment: Hybrid WAFs are a combination of both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This deployment model allows organizations to take advantage of the benefits of both types of deployment, while mitigating the disadvantages. For example, an organization might use a cloud-based website firewall protection for their public-facing applications, while using an on-premise WAF for their internal web apps. This can help reduce costs, improve performance, and provide greater flexibility for the organization.
WAF, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
As the sophistication of cyberattacks continues to grow, web application firewalls must also evolve to stay ahead of emerging threats. One way that WAFs are becoming more effective is through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies.
AI and ML can make web app firewalls more intelligent and adaptive, allowing them to better detect and respond to new and evolving threats. Here are some key reasons why it’s important to make WAF intelligent with AI:
- Enhanced threat detection. AI and ML teach WAFs to detect and block previously unknown threats, including zero-day attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs). By analyzing large amounts of data and identifying patterns that might be missed by traditional rule-based systems, WAFs start to identify threats in real-time, before they can cause any damage.
- Reduced false positives. A traditional web application firewall often generates numerous false positives, which can be time-consuming for IT teams to investigate and address. AI and ML can help reduce false positives by learning from historical data and identifying legitimate traffic patterns. This can help free up IT resources and improve the overall effectiveness of the WAF.
- Greater scalability. As web traffic continues to grow, firewalls must be able to scale to meet the demands of high-volume traffic without compromising security. Artificial intelligence helps WAFs scale more effectively, by automating tasks such as traffic analysis, threat detection, and response. So, organizations can improve their security posture while minimizing the impact on network performance.
Comparing WAF to Other Types of Website Protection Software
Web application firewalls are just one type of software that organizations can use to safeguard their web apps against cyber threats. Here’s a brief comparison of WAFs to other types of website protection software.
An antivirus program is designed to protect against malware and other types of malicious software, including viruses, trojans, and spyware, that can infect a website or compromise its data. It works by scanning files and websites for known malware signatures and behavior patterns. However, antivirus software is not specifically designed to ensure web application protection against attack patterns such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS).
Web application scanners
They are designed to identify vulnerabilities in a web app, such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting. While these tools can help organizations identify potential security gaps, they do not provide real-time protection against attacks. WAFs, on the other hand, actively monitor web traffic and can block attacks in real-time.
Intrusion detection systems
IDPS are designed to detect and prevent unauthorized access to a network or system. They work by analyzing network traffic and looking for signs of suspicious activity, such as unusual network traffic patterns or attempts to access restricted resources. While these systems can be effective at detecting and preventing network-based attacks, they can’t outdo firewalls protection against web-based attacks.
Content delivery networks
CDNs are designed to improve the performance and availability of web applications by distributing content across a network of servers. They work by caching content closer to end-users, reducing latency and improving response times. CDNs protect well against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and some others, but they aren’t the same effective against web-based attacks. Content delivery networks can also introduce additional security risks, such as vulnerabilities in the CDN itself or the use of unencrypted connections.
Summing up, while there are other types of website protection software available, a web application firewall provides a unique and critical layer of protection against web-based attacks. WAFs help organizations safeguard their web applications against emerging threats. Organizations that are serious about their firewall and security should consider deploying a WAF as part of their overall protection strategy.
How to Choose the Most Suitable Security Protection Solution
Choosing the most suitable solution for your web application protection can be a daunting task, especially given the wide range of options available. Even after answering the question “What is firewall security and how does it benefit businesses?”, there may be some unclear nuances left. We created a list of factors to consider when deciding between a WAF and other security software.
First, you have to consider the type of your web application. This can impact your choice of the security protection program. For example, if your app handles sensitive data, such as financial information or personal details, then a WAF may be the best choice due to its real-time reaction to web-based attacks.
The estimated budget is the second thing to pay attention to. The cost of security protection solutions can vary widely, and it’s important to choose the one that won’t break the bank. A protection firewall can be more expensive than other types of software, such as antivirus or web scanners, but it provides a higher level of security.
If your web app is expected to grow significantly in the future, then it’s important to choose a security protection solution that can scale with your needs. WAFs and CDNs can both provide scalability benefits, as they can be deployed across multiple servers or regions to improve performance and availability.
Easiness of deployment may also play a significant role in choosing the best-fitting solution. Antivirus software is easy to deploy and manage. Web application firewall software, on the other hand, can be more complex to set up and configure. It’s important to choose an easy-to-deploy and manage variant, especially if you have limited resources.
Last but not least, things to consider are compliance requirements. If your web application is subject to compliance requirements, such as PCI DSS or HIPAA, then it’s important to verify whether the solution you chose meets them. Here, web app firewalls have a competitive advantage, as they are more effective at meeting compliance requirements.
Web application firewall software is a must when you intend to make your online product protected from external threats and trustworthy for users. In this article, we tried to clarify all the peculiarities of such software, compare it to other security products on the market, as well as provide web application firewall best practices.
Overall, implementing a web application firewall is an essential step toward securing your online presence, and choosing the best option requires careful consideration of your organization’s unique requirements. With the right WAF in place, you can reduce your risk of cyber attacks and safeguard your valuable data and assets. Moreover, it’s essential to keep the software up-to-date with the latest security patches and to configure it properly to ensure optimal protection.
Contact LITSLINK to develop an ideal web application and protect it properly using a firewall system or any other prominent technology in the field. We will consult you on all the issues and questions to find the most suitable solution and achieve the highest level of cybersecurity together.