A web application firewall (WAF) is one of the most important tools in the security arsenal of any organization. For those who are unfamiliar, it is simply a layer of software that sits between your web application and the Internet and protects the web application against malicious traffic.
If you are familiar with WAFs, you would also know that there are many different vendors offering different products. Choosing the best product for your needs can be a long, arduous process if you don’t know what to look for. To help you choose the right web application firewall for your business, we have created a list of features you should look for when buying a web application firewall.
In this article, you will learn about seven features you should look for when investing in a web application firewall.
7 Key Features of Web Application Firewall
Here are seven key features you should never ignore when buying a web application firewall.
1. Block Malicious Traffic
One of the main reasons for investing in a firewall is to block malicious traffic. The same goes for web application firewalls as well. Cyber Attackers will use bots, crawlers and other techniques to camouflage malicious traffic so it can evade detection. That is why a web application firewall should not only be able to block malicious traffic but also sniff out threat actors. Some web application firewalls even let you use a device fingerprinting method. You can also create a blacklist and whitelist to block malicious traffic from entering your network. It can also offer DDoS protection.
2. Centralized Management
One of the biggest challenges with web application architecture is that they are distributed across different environments. Since your web applications can be accessed from anywhere around the world, it makes the job even more difficult. Managing all this is not easy which is why you need centralized management features that let you control everything from a single dashboard.
By having a centralized management system in place, you can easily manage dozens of WAF appliances without having to connect to each one separately. This takes the hassle out of the management and provides you with better visibility over your IT infrastructure. This also enables you to implement a unified security policy across your enterprise with minimal effort.
A centralized management system also provides better control over your infrastructure whether it is on-premise or on the cloud. Despite all its advantages, most organizations don’t even consider centralized management when purchasing a web application firewall solution. As a result, they end up buying a web application firewall that complicates their job even further.
3. Protection Against Most Popular Threats
The first thing most businesses ask the web application firewall vendor when they are considering buying their solution is if it can protect them from most popular attacks. If the answer is yes, then they would move on to the next question. On the flipside, if the answer is negative, businesses will start exploring other alternatives.
A good web application firewall is capable of protecting your applications and servers from most common application attacks. Sadly, it is difficult to tell how good a web application firewall is when it comes to protecting against common threats without rigorous testing.
Yes, you can read reviews that compare different options but you should always take those reviews with a pinch of salt. One of the best ways to evaluate the effectiveness is to look at the security value map and comparative analysis report. This will give you a better idea about their effectiveness against detecting, preventing and mitigating the risk of intrusions.
4. Protection Against Lesser Known or Unknown Threats
What most businesses don’t realize is that not all cyberattacks are common. You can become a victim of a rare cybersecurity attack. What does your web application firewall do in such a situation? What level of protection does it offer against lesser known and zero-day threats? With cybercriminals finding new vulnerabilities, and resorting to new techniques and methods to target your critical infrastructure, you need a web application firewall that can defend against emerging and latest threats.
5. PCI-DSS Compliance
The number of cyberattacks trying to steal your credit card information and financial transaction data is growing at a rapid pace. This is why it is important for businesses to invest in a web application firewall that complies with PCI-DSS standards. Popular web application firewalls detect and block sophisticated attacks before they can negatively impact your financial transaction data or sensitive credit card data. Verizon did a decade long study and studied companies who became a victim of data breaches and found that none of the companies were PCI compliant.
6. Application Vulnerability Prevention
Do you know what is the most common cause of data breach? Software vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities in your web applications give hackers an opportunity to inject malware or malicious code. Even though they resort to different tactics such as cross site scripting, SQL injection, or cookie poisoning; the end goal remains the same.
It is important for your web application firewalls to apply patches to fix those vulnerabilities as soon as they are detected. This process is known as virtual patching. The best thing about virtual patching is that you don’t need to make changes to the software.. This prevents hackers from exploiting those vulnerabilities and achieving their malicious objectives. To increase its effectiveness, you should integrate it with a vulnerability scanner.
7. Ability to Work In The Background
One of the main reasons why businesses are reluctant to adopt web application firewalls is their impact on the performance of their existing infrastructure. Thankfully, there are WAF solutions that silently work in the background without hampering the performance of your existing IT infrastructure. There is no point in getting a web application firewall that can degrade your application and network performance. After all, you don’t want to hamper the user experience of your users at the cost of security.
Which features do you prioritize when making a WAF purchase decision? Share it with us in the comments section below.