A Web Application Firewall (WAF) acts as an additional layer of defense for your website, providing a system of protection against malicious entry attempts. From cookie poisoning and SQL injection to cross-site scripting and database overloads, an effective WAF will help stop your website from falling prey to breaches.
As we continue to move further into the digital age, the need for a web application is only ever-increasing. Whereas a website’s firewall once would have been enough to keep the website safe, nowadays, apps, APIs, and websites routinely fall prey to the advanced hacking tools now available around the world.
A web application firewall is the solution to this heightened threat, providing a comprehensive security system that keeps your website and all its associated data completely safe.
What do WAFs protect against?
There are six core areas of cyberattacks that Web Application Firewalls are designed to protect from. Principally, your website will likely experience one, if not many, of the following forms of infiltration:
- Business Logic Attacks
- Cross-Site Scripting
- DDoS Attacks
- SQL Injection
Let’s break these down further.
Business Logic Attacks
Business logic is the pathways that information takes between different software systems and databases. When an attacker gains entry to a web application or a website, they’re able to look through the various building blocks of the site.
When a hacker finds flaws in these business logic systems, they’re able to exploit them and take advantage of vulnerabilities in your site.
Also known as XSS attacks, cross-site scripting is where attackers find vulnerabilities in the application to then inject their own code into the site. When a user loads that page, the script is then executed.
This can lead to user information – both personal and confidential – being exploited and stolen. XSS attacks are one of the primary ways that identity theft is carried out.
At their core, DDoS attacks are about causing fake traffic, leveraging a system of hacked devices to rapidly overwhelm a website’s servers. Quite commonly, these lead to website downtime, costing a business money and stopping them from running everyday processes.
Once an attacker gains entry through a weak cybersecurity system, they then have the option to change the actual content of the website. Defacement is when a hacker changes what’s shown on a website, entering their own content or shocking users with controversial imagery.
Alongside losing control of the site, the repercussions of the changed content could lead to many people distrusting your site or the site being removed altogether.
By intertwining malicious software like spyware, rootkits, or trojans into a website, an attacker will then be able to access all the user data that comes through that page. Especially effective in sensitive parts of a website or application, this causes mass data theft and can have disastrous consequences on a site.
By injecting malicious SQL into contact forms, submission forms, or any other user input field within a website, an attacker is able to gain access to the backend of the website. From there, they’ll be able to visualize and steal confidential information, as well as grant themselves administrative access.
How does a Web Application Firewall Protect from Cyber Threats?
A WAF is a continuous source of protection, ceaselessly working to block malicious traffic that comes onto your site, as well as preventing any unauthorized data from leaving. This two-way system ensures that your site is completely protected, allowing you to scale without worrying about cybersecurity.
When established, a website WAF has a system of policies that it uses as a base. When a connection enters your site, it will put their traffic through this system of policies, double-checking that it doesn’t seem malicious or unsafe. You’ll also be able to update these policies if needed, customizing your level of digital security even further.
WAFs work on a reverse proxy system, posing as an intermediary between a user and your site and making sure that they are not maliciously entering. Even with this more rigorous system of protection, an effective WAF will not slow down your site.
What are the advantages of an efficient Web Application Firewall?
WAFs protect your site, adding another layer of security that defends against malicious cyber threats. Yet, that’s not the only set of benefits, with WAFs also offering:
- Protection Without Bottlenecks – Instead of slowing down performance in order to boost security, an effective WAF will never act as a bottleneck for your progress. With the digital advancements in cybersecurity that have taken place over the last few years, you’re now able to incorporate a web application firewall without lowering your site’s loading times.
- Easy to Manage – When a threat is launched at your site, a WAF tool will compile an easy-to-understand report to keep you in the loop, letting you manage your site without having to worry about difficult-to-understand language.
- Automatic – The most efficient WAFs will automatically update to deal with the newest threats in the cyberworld. Instead of having to do anything yourself, expert tools will continuously update 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Easy to Enable – To enable a web application firewall, all you need to do is make a DNS change. This only takes a few seconds to set up and won’t need any hardware or software once enabled. It couldn’t be easier to protect your site from online threats.
Final Thoughts on WAFs
As digital threats become increasingly more difficult to deal with, web application firewalls have begun to firmly root themselves as the most comprehensive solution. With additional features being invented every single day to keep your site safe, WAF tools are the perfect security system for your website.
From DDoS attacks to SQL injections, WAFs provide around-the-clock security that keeps your website, its data, and your users completely safe.