What is an intelligent Web Application Firewall (WAF)?
An intelligent web application firewall (WAF) is a security solution that can be incorporated into an organization’s existing cloud-based software or even legacy on-premises software to greatly enhance the security posture of that application. The advantage of using such a solution is that it can be integrated right into your existing workflow, so no major changes are needed to implement it.
A WAF protects web applications from application-layer attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, cookie poisoning, and more. Attacks on applications are one of the leading causes of breaches as they are the gateway to your valuable data. With a suitable WAF in place, you can block an array of attacks that aim to exfiltrate that data by compromising your systems.
This blog will highlight the top seven benefits of investing in an intelligent web application firewall to enhance the security of your organization’s applications and data.
1. Eliminating Security Gaps Through Automation
The main advantage of an intelligent WAF is its capability to automate a wide range of security tasks. The WAF can be designed to automatically receive certain security-related events from your software and then perform the appropriate actions to ensure all your assets are as secure as possible.
Some of the automated tasks that can be performed include:
- Control visibility and access rights of your users and applications
Automatically authenticate and authorize users who use your software, control the visibility of the endpoints they have access to, and enforce permissions based on role-based access control.
- Block malicious and harmful traffic
Automate and block traffic that is harmful and malicious to your network, website, or application. This ensures that only valid traffic reaches your servers while robotic/non-critical traffic can be blocked by ad blocking tools or browser settings.
- Identify threats and vulnerabilities
Scan your network and application traffic to identify threats targeting vulnerabilities that may be exploited to gain unauthorized access to your network or other endpoints.
- Communicate with the control center
Automatically report certain events to the control center for further analysis and action.
2. Properly Designed User Authentication and Access Control
A proper user authentication and access control mechanism is essential to prevent the application from being hacked. An intelligent WAF is effective in performing its task in a manner that lets only the right users access the right data.
An intelligent web application firewall:
- Handles user authentication using either a token and/or a username/password combination
- Ensures that only authorized users have access to the software and its resources
- Helps you decide which endpoints should have permission to view, edit, or create a given resource within your software
- Allows you to control which services and behavior are allowed, such as approving or rejecting images, clicking on links, etc.
3. Endpoint Protection
A WAF can protect all your endpoints, including servers, workstations, mobile devices, and IoT devices. It can block common attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection, and it can detect advanced threats such as malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
An intelligent WAF helps you:
- Stop hostile traffic from accessing your endpoints, thereby protecting your users from being targeted by outside cybercriminals who might try to trick them into downloading malware or infecting their systems with viruses.
- Manage non-malicious traffic, like from a legitimate application that you don’t want to block, for example, if you’re trying to integrate it with another piece of software.
4. Network Visibility and Protection
Another key aspect of an intelligent WAF is the ability to extract visibility from your network and the application to identify threats, vulnerabilities, and potential attacks. Through this visibility, you can then apply protections that stop threats from reaching your network.
Some key network visibility aspects include the following:
- Visibility of your application: identify both potential threats and vulnerabilities in your software to prevent attacks so you can stay ahead of the threat curve
- Visibility of your network: identify malicious or potentially malicious traffic that is trying to reach your network through your software
- Application control: Configure the firewall to block traffic that shouldn’t be allowed, such as traffic destined for a malicious server
5. In-Depth Reporting and Analysis Capabilities
Use the firewall to help you understand the threats to your network, what and who is trying to access your software, and what resources are being accessed within your software.
Some key reporting and analysis capabilities that the WAF can be designed to perform include:
- Anomaly-based detection: Detect anomalies based on the collected data so new attack patterns can be flagged and reported back to the control center
- Vulnerability and threat identification: Identify both vulnerability and threat information to allow your team to stay ahead of the threat curve
- Response and visibility: Automatically report certain events to the control center for further analysis and action
6. Cost-effective security solution
With the demand for strong security increasing, many organizations are looking for cost-effective solutions to help better protect their networks. An intelligent WAF can be a cost-effective solution for many organizations due to its ability to automate many of the security tasks end users may be performing manually. As more organizations invest in cloud-based software, the demand for a security solution that can be deployed quickly and easily will become the norm.
7. A key piece of the overall digital asset protection puzzle
Another important benefit of using an intelligent WAF is that it can be used as part of an overall asset protection strategy. Outsiders may try to exploit vulnerabilities in your software or even attack your network to gain access to your data. With an intelligent WAF, you can help protect your data by preventing malicious traffic from reaching it, such as blocking traffic that shouldn’t be allowed and port scanning legitimate traffic to help identify what server it may be trying to access. This can further reduce the risk of a data breach by preventing attackers from gaining unauthorized access to your network and data.
An intelligent WAF is a key component of any modern security strategy. The WAF can be designed to automatically receive certain security-related events from your software and then perform the appropriate actions to ensure all your assets are as secure as possible. The key benefits of investing in an intelligent WAF are that it can be designed to integrate with and automate a wide range of security tasks.
Additionally, it can be designed to automatically receive certain security-related events from your software and then perform the appropriate actions to ensure all your assets are as secure as possible. The WAF can also block malicious and harmful traffic, identify threats and vulnerabilities, properly design user authentication and access control, and provide in-depth reporting and analysis capabilities. All these make the WAF a cost-effective security solution.
Is there a solution that can automate WAF policy management and WAF vulnerability remediation?
AppViewX ADC+ offers automation workflows and self-service deployments. It integrates with best-of-breed network services, including application delivery controllers, security devices, certificate authorities, DNS servers, and more. This allows you to focus on your applications instead of worrying about the infrastructure.
Use F5 BIG-IP® Application Security Manager™ (ASM) Automation Workflow to Secure Your Applications by following the steps in this video.