In today’s digital landscape, securing web applications against a wide range of threats is crucial.
One effective way to protect web applications is through the use of a Web Application Firewall (WAF).
A WAF is a security software that filters and monitors HTTP/HTTPS traffic between a web application and the internet.
Over the years, WAFs have evolved to include additional capabilities, leading to the emergence of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) platforms.
In this article, we will explore the concept of WAFs and WAAP platforms, their importance in today’s threat landscape, and the top tools available in the market.
We will also discuss the key features to look for when choosing a WAAP tool and provide a detailed review of some of the best WAAP solutions.
Table of Contents
Understanding WAFs and WAAP Platforms
A Web Application Firewall (WAF) acts as a protective barrier between web applications and potential attackers.
It filters and inspects incoming HTTP/HTTPS traffic, identifying and blocking malicious requests before they reach the web application’s origin server.
WAFs offer a range of capabilities, including blacklisting, header inspections, and traffic blocking, to ensure the security of web applications.
With the evolution of the threat landscape, WAFs have expanded their scope to include protection for APIs as well.
This led to the development of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) platforms.
WAAP platforms encompass a comprehensive suite of tools, technologies, and practices designed to detect, prevent, and mitigate various attacks, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and API abuse.
By implementing a robust WAAP, organizations can fortify their applications and APIs, safeguard sensitive data, and maintain the trust of their users in an ever-evolving threat landscape.
Top WAF and WAAP Tools
When it comes to choosing a WAF or WAAP tool, there are several options available in the market.
Every tool comes with its own set of features and abilities.
Let’s take a look at some of the best WAF and WAAP tools available:
|AppTrana||Starts at $99||– Cloud WAF- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- DAST Scanner- CDN- SSL Certificates (Entrust)- Managed Services||Teams without security experts in-house but need advanced policies to block attacks at the WAF|
|Fastly||On Quote||– Cloud WAF- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- CDN||Teams looking for flexibility in deploying WAAP and require multiple deployment options|
|Imperva||On Quote||– WAF (Cloud & on-premise)- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- DNS- CDN- RASP||Teams with a hybrid WAAP strategy with both on-premise and cloud models|
|Akamai||On Quote||– Cloud WAF- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- DNS- CDN||Teams with a good budget for security software, especially in the media, gaming, and streaming services industries|
|Cloudflare||Starts at $0||– Cloud WAF- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- CDN- DNS & SSL||Teams with dedicated security experts who can handle the configuration|
|Radware||On Quote||– WAF (Cloud & on-premise)- DDoS Mitigation- API Security- Bot Protection- DNS- CDN||Teams with a hybrid WAAP strategy with both on-premise and cloud models|
|AWS WAF||Pay as you go||– Cloud WAF- API Security- DDoS Mitigation (Add-on)- Bot Protection- DNS- CDN||Teams already on AWS and looking for basic protection against OWASP Top 10|
|Barracuda||Starts at $1000||– WAF (On-Premise & Cloud)- API Security- DDoS Mitigation- Bot Protection- CDN||Teams with a hybrid WAAP strategy with both on-premise and cloud models|
What Tool Sets Do WAAP Platforms Include?
WAAP platforms come in various flavors, ranging from commercial solutions to those offered by public clouds.
While the capabilities may vary from platform to platform, most WAAP platforms include a subset of the following tools:
1. Web Application Firewall (WAF)
WAFs sit between internet traffic and the origin server of a web application, filtering out malicious requests before they reach the server.
They offer a range of capabilities, such as blacklisting, header inspections, and traffic blocking, to protect web applications from various attacks.
2. API Security Solution
API security solutions are specialized tools that provide granular access controls, handle different vulnerabilities specific to APIs, and ensure compliance with data protection laws.
Look for a solution that helps you discover and document APIs and automate the creation of positive security models.
3. DDoS Mitigation Solution
While many WAFs include some level of DDoS protection, the nuances lie in whether the protection is unmetered and whether the provider offers managed services to quickly respond to custom rules and thwart attacks.
Some public cloud WAFs require a separate subscription for DDoS protection.
4. Bot Protection Solution
Bots can be used for a variety of attacks, including running probes to find vulnerabilities, injecting code into websites, and scraping pricing and inventory information.
5. DAST Scanner
A WAAP platform with both a DAST scanner and a WAF in one platform provides IT teams with visibility into open vulnerabilities and how many are already protected by the WAF.
This risk-based approach helps prioritize vulnerabilities and ensure comprehensive protection.
6. Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)
RASP, or Runtime Application Self-Protection, is a security technology designed to shield applications from various threats, including zero-day attacks.
It functions by observing the application during runtime and identifying potentially malicious actions.
RASP agents can be difficult to deploy and manage as they change with programming languages and upgrades.
Features in a WAAP Tool to Look Out for
Once you decide on a toolset, it’s important to evaluate the features of each tool.
While most WAFs and WAAP platforms offer basic checkbox features, there are certain capabilities that can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your security defenses.
Consider these essential features:
1. Virtual Patching
Virtual patching allows vulnerabilities to be patched at the WAF level, buying the application team enough time to patch them in the code.
Look for a WAAP solution that offers virtual patching capabilities.
Additionally, consider whether the solution includes a virtual patching service or requires you to manage it in-house.
2. False Positive Monitoring
False positives occur when legitimate traffic is incorrectly identified as malicious and blocked. It’s crucial to choose a WAAP tool that offers false positive monitoring.
Look for a vendor that takes responsibility for monitoring and regularly testing rule updates to minimize false positives.
3. Unmetered DDoS Mitigation & Monitoring Service
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can cripple web applications, causing downtime and impacting user experience.
While many WAAPs offer DDoS protection, consider whether the solution includes unmetered DDoS mitigation.
Additionally, check if the vendor offers monitoring services to quickly respond to and mitigate DDoS attacks.
4. Positive Security Policy Automation for APIs
APIs are increasingly targeted by attackers, making API security a critical consideration.
Look for a WAAP solution that helps automate the creation of positive security policies for APIs.
This feature can help compensate for lapses in secure coding practices and ensure comprehensive protection for API endpoints.
5. Workflow-based Bot Protection
Bots are becoming more sophisticated, requiring advanced protection mechanisms. Look for a WAAP solution that allows the creation of custom rules based on user behavior.
This allows for more effective bot detection and mitigation, as custom rules can closely align with user behavior and increase the chances of identifying and blocking bots.
In today’s threat landscape, protecting web applications and APIs is of utmost importance.
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) platforms provide the necessary tools and technologies to detect, prevent, and mitigate various attacks.
When choosing a WAAP tool, consider the specific needs of your organization and the features offered by each solution.
Look for features such as virtual patching, false positive monitoring, unmetered DDoS mitigation, positive security policy automation for APIs, and workflow-based bot protection.
By implementing a robust WAAP solution, organizations can fortify their web applications and APIs, safeguard sensitive data, and maintain the trust of their users in today’s ever-evolving threat landscape.
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