Ensuring that Web-based applications are secure requires a number of layers of security, not the least of which is a Web application firewall alias WAF. A WAF is a critical layer when considering the confidentiality, availability and integrity of Web-accessible data. A WAF is an appliance, server plugin that applies a set of rules to an HTTP conversation.
Why Buy a Web Application Firewall?
If you are a website owner, particularly if you deal with sensitive information, private emails or accept web-based payments, a web application firewall can help keep your site secure.
A WAF is a type of firewall designed to check HTTP requests and block any that do not comply with a set of rules or are malicious. Designed for increased security, application-level firewalls catch cross-site scripting, SQL injection, denial-of-service attacks, directory traversal and other abuses of the HTTP protocol.
How does the WAF integrate into your environment?
One of the most critical aspects to look at when evaluating a WAF is deployment. In other words, what is required to put the WAF to work? There are a few different WAF deployment options to look at, and each of these should be considered, along with an enterprise's existing environment, to determine which type of WAF is the best fit.
A few different types of web application firewalls are available, including hardware solutions such as those made by Barracuda and software applications such as those from SiteLock and CloudFlare.
How does the WAF detect and respond to attacks?
WAFs operate primarily by inspecting the content of requests and responses between the application server and the client. How and what a WAF inspects is critical to its effectiveness in protecting enterprise resources.
Web Application Firewalls: What to Look For
When looking for a web application firewall, look for one that easily integrates into your existing architecture and runs on a form factor that is easy to use and supported by your IT department.
Also known as active configuration, this type of architecture places the WAF directly in the path of traffic between the browser client and the web application server. Once installed, it inspects all requests and responses before allowing them through.
With this architecture, also known as passive configuration, the WAF remains out of the path of traffic and uses a tap or span port to monitor it. This type of configuration is useful when collecting information intended for forensic or investigatory analysis.
With the introduction of cloud computing and virtualization, new architectural models of web application firewalls have become necessary. Cloud-based versions intercept traffic before it enters the network, or cloud server. To protect virtual environments, Adaptive Internet Protocol or another service monitors activity so that the WAF is able to see the traffic.
A web application firewall helps to ensure that your website, the information on it and any customer data remains safe and secure from denial-of-service attacks, potential hackers and other malicious activity. When looking for the best WAF to purchase, don't simply look at the price; consider the form factor, architecture, options and features to ensure that you get the best application security for your specific needs.