WAF solutions or Web Application Firewall solutions are indispensable today in ensuring round-the-clock, proactive security against a wide range of threats – known and emerging. But several competing products are available in the market with tall claims on why they are the best WAF solution, making it difficult in choosing the right solution.
This article discusses seven key capabilities a Web Application Firewall solution must provide to ensure maximum security efficacy and business value.
The 7 Must-Have Capabilities for Every WAF Solution
Comprehensive Coverage of OWASP Top 10 and Beyond
Every WAF security solution must comprehensively cover the latest OWASP Top 10 security risks such as broken access controls, cryptographic failures, security misconfigurations, etc., and all other known vulnerabilities. It must be well-equipped to proactively detect and block existing and emerging threats such as DDoS, botnet attacks, etc.
The WAF must effectively identify these vulnerabilities and instantly secure them through virtual patching, giving time to developers to develop permanent patches. This way, attackers will not find and exploit these security gaps to do their bidding.
To ensure that the WAF can secure all kinds of known vulnerabilities, you can engage in security research testing and validation and request the WAF vendor for proof of concept.
Combination of Positive and Negative Security Models
Today, highly sophisticated threats and leverage advanced technology intelligently in wreaking havoc on businesses. Advanced persistent threat smokescreen attacks such as DDoS distract attention away from other attacks, logical attacks, and a growing number of zero-day threats that exploit newly identified vulnerabilities in applications and APIs.
So, the WAF solution must use a hybrid security model that combines the positive and negative models. The negative model is used to protect against known threats automatically. On the other hand, the positive model is used to protect against unknown threats, especially zero-days. The positive model uses rules (the whitelist) that allow only valid and secure transactions, actions, traffic, and activities while denying everything else.
Given the criticality of defining rules, the web application firewall solution must be managed, i.e., it must be backed by certified security experts who have a strong understanding of the application architecture, threat landscape, and security best practices. Indusface’s AppTrana is such a solution; it is powered by Global Threat Intelligence and certified security experts who build and tune WAF policies with surgical accuracy.
Agility in Risk Detection and Minimization
The DevOps process uses agile development practices to build and deploy applications rapidly. Further, live applications are constantly evolving, too, with multiple moving parts, shared components, third-party software, and so on. The resulting fluidity and agility give rise to a whole host of unintended security risks.
The WAF should be capable of automatically detecting and securing apps and their wide-ranging components as and when they are added to the network. That is why the solution must use the latest technology such as AI with self-learning capabilities, automation, and analytics. Additionally, you must integrate the WAF security solution right into the early SDLC stages.
Behavioral Analysis, Pattern Analysis, and Device Fingerprinting
Bot traffic today can mimic human traffic. Bots, spammers, scrapers, and crawlers use advanced, clandestine techniques to disguise illegitimate requests to do their bidding. For instance, bots change their source IP addresses to avoid detection.
So, the WAF solution must be a next-gen, advanced one that goes beyond traditional WAFs’ ineffective signature-based detection methods. It must use behavioral, pattern, and device fingerprinting analysis on the incoming traffic and requests to detect and stop threats effectively. It must intelligently allow, block, flag, or challenge requests to prevent attacks.
Security That Does Not Interfere with Performance
Due to security, downtime, crashes, or slowdown of apps, networks, or other infrastructure devices is the last thing any business wants. So, the WAF must be such that it does not interfere with or erode the application’s performance.
To this end, choose a cloud-based web application firewall backed by a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that accelerates app performance through caching. It reduces request backlogs even when there are thunderous traffic surges. Additionally, ensure that the cloud-based WAF solution offers effective false positive management to prevent legitimate users from accessing the application.
Scalability, Flexibility, and Customizability
The scalability of the WAF solution is key for bolstering security effectiveness. The WAF must be able to handle all traffic surges and remain effective. Cloud-based WAF solutions are best equipped for scale.
Moreover, vulnerabilities are unique and contextual to the business, applications, APIs, microservices, etc., it is protecting. So, it must be flexible and highly customizable.
Centralized Management and Visibility
Businesses have multiple, globally distributed apps, APIs, and components to be protected. Without centralized management and full, round-the-clock visibility, the WAF solution will effectively contribute to hardening the security posture.
The Way Forward
When choosing your WAF solution, you must look beyond pricing. It’s crucial that you evaluate a WAF solution based on its ability to offer the above-mentioned capabilities.
Further, weigh all the pros and cons of each WAF solution in the market and make the best decision for your business.