The ins and outs of Web Application Firewall (WAF)
What is a Web Application Firewall?
WAF is a firewall which is being used to monitor, filter out, or block the data sets which travel from or towards web applications.
There are three types of WAFs in the form of Host-based WAFs, network-based WAFs, and cloud-based WAFs. It should be noted that these firewalls are being deployed via a proxy and are located in more than one web application. This is being operated in the form of a network appliance as it monitors each data packet and uses a rule base method to analyze and filter out the traffic flowing towards web applications.
Most of modern day organizations use these Web Application Firewalls to protect their useful web applications against different vulnerabilities, attackers, and zero-day exploits.
These Web Applications Firewalls have the special ability to react to XSS attacks, session hijacking, buffer overflows, and SQL injection attacks which other firewalls may not be able to do. It should also be noted that WAFs are effective and useful for businesses which operate on the online platform.
Different types of WAFs
There are three main types of Web Applications Firewalls. We will now analyze how these firewalls vary from each other.
These are considered to be hardware based firewalls and have the ability to minimize latency. It should be noted that these firewalls are located locally and are very close to the application. Vendors who run these network WAFs facilitate large scale configuration and deployment through the replications of rules and configurations. These types of Firewalls are quite costly compared to others but they assure great safety for the amount of money you pay.
These firewalls are fully connected and integrated into the running application which provides the user plenty of options when it comes to customization. The cost involved with implementing this kind of firewall is quite low compared to the other methods. It should be noted that application based WAFs could be challenging to operate as they demand local libraries and heavily rely on the resources of the local server to function effectively.
This is the ideal solution for companies looking for low-cost solutions and demand turnkey products. It should be noted that these firewalls are quite easy to deploy and the operators provide the firewall on a subscription basis for the users. Cloud based WAFs only require a simple alteration in the DNS to redirect the traffic involved with the application. It can be quite challenging for organizations to filter the traffic of web applications relevant to an organization through a third party service provider. Cloud based firewall have managed to overcome the above-mentioned challenge by setting a broad spectrum on location hosting and using a uniform policy to provide protection against the layer attacks. This seems to be the favorite of the modern day businesses as it does not involve much hassle and responsibility.
Key reason for deploying
Businesses make use of these WAFs to protect their valuable and confidential business services and data. That is what makes it the most significant reason to deploy a WAF within a network. Modern businesses ranging from the smallest bank branch in the city to the largest multinational corporation highly rely on their web presence to score revenue and keep the company running. For this reason, they simply cannot afford to risk this section as it would negatively affect many other areas.
Loss of Confidential and sensitive data
Another key reason why organizations deploy WAFs. It should be noted that there have been many incidents where web hackers have illegally accessed sensitive data such as the customer details, credit card details, medical information, and social security numbers. This includes hidden data like trade secrets, classified government data, and property details.
These attacks can give rise to a set of various costs which could be in the form of fines and compensations made to affected parties.
The risk of losing customer confidence
Customer confidence is very important for the survival of an organization as customers closely monitor the reputation scores of entities via social media and other sources.
In this context, it is very important for businesses to remain safe and competitive in the market. Once the reputation is tarnished by a web hack, it is going to be very difficult for an organization to build the lost trust. This could easily lead to a loss of sales as well.
We cannot assume that a Web Application Firewall can safeguard your web system 100% of the time, however, it can play a key role in minimizing the risk of occurrence and take a layered approach towards IT security. Having a WAF deployed could help an organization reduce the impact in the case that any casualties take place; this is the bottom-line which highlights the necessity for the deployment of a Web Application Firewall.
Functional requirements for a WAF
It should be noted that many WAFs vary depending on the quality of the features that they offer and the volume they takes.
As a practical example, if the scope of protection includes only marketing related data and excludes customer data then there is not a risk of exposing the company. In this case, the monetary risk can be related to the risk of malware and other general information. If the requirement is relatively small, the organization can consider deploying a cloud based WAF which is a smart, convenient, and cost-effective solution.
Technical stance of the team
Complex and mega web applications demand complex implementations; this should include the rule-sets which would not get past the application or redundancy configurations. It is very important and timely for an organization to review their internal IT skill level or the cost of outsourcing the setup. This cost should be added to the total deployment cost of the WAF. The cost is decided based on previous experience and currently the market in the mature stage.