A Web Application Firewall, or WAF, is a special security service designed to protect a web application, such as a website, from hackers, bots, DDoS attacks, and other security threats on the internet. This is done by having all the traffic destined for the web application to flow through the WAF, where it is inspected for malicious traits. Traffic that is classified as malicious is then blocked. In many ways, a WAF is more similar to an intrusion detection system (IDS) than a traditional firewall as it does more than just control port access. However, it differs from an IDS because it focuses on just filtering web traffic.
A WAF can be a physical machine that traffic is routed through, but with the continuous growth of cloud-based services, cloud-based WAFs are now very common. Having a cloud-based WAF offsets the burden of having to purchase, maintain, and monitor the WAF to the cloud provider. Since the cloud provider can hire specialized staff to watch and analyze traffic, they can often provide better security than attempting to do it in-house. Additionally, cloud-based WAFs are often combined with other services, such as content delivery networks (CDNs) and DDoS protection.
The extra security provided by a web application firewall is can be very important in mitigating risk, especially when an organization cannot upgrade old frameworks and end of life software. Attacks and probes against web applications are constant, and while it is not a substitute for updated software, a WAF provides some protection when updating isn’t feasible. If you want to learn more, please take a look at the articles below, or reach out to OPG to see how we can help you get your WAF set up and working for you.