Web application security is a major concern for companies and organizations that rely heavily on the internet as a platform to operate and distribute their products, services, and information. There have been several articles written on what a web application firewall is.
There are many web application firewalls that offer protection for web servers. Its purpose is to block malicious scripts and online intrusions. WAF is used to prevent hackers from executing harmful code on your system. Many companies that offer web applications for their customers also offer web application firewalls. Usually, these firewalls are very effective at blocking web exploits, scripts, Trojans, worms, and other harmful programs. While each product may have different goals and features, they all work together to prevent a web application from becoming a gateway for potential hackers. There is no doubt that a WAF is extremely important when it comes to protecting a company’s web servers and preventing hackers from accessing confidential information or causing system compromise.
How Does a Web Application Firewall Work?
A firewall is a crucial part of any network or computer system that works to keep data secure. The importance of a firewall is often referred to because it is the only line of defense between a dedicated application (such as a database) and unsecured web traffic. When a system has a good firewall, it works effectively to limit access to resources on the Internet. The more intelligent the firewall is, the better the system will be at blocking unwanted visitors and giving internet security.
Just like your company’s firewall stands as a physical defense around your IT infrastructure to block unauthorized traffic, your web application firewall is also a filtering device that filters out cybercriminals and other intruders who are intent on using your system’s resources and information. A good WAF limits the access to your system to only those resources that are needed for running the website or program that is on the website. Thus if you suspect that someone is using your system for something other than business, such as sending secret information through email, you can simply block the communication or enter the administrator’s mode so that no one is able to access the information. A good firewall will often block or decline all network communication to and from certain web applications.
Different Types of Web Application Firewalls
- Network-Based WAF
Today, almost every network operating system and application utilize a network-based web application firewall to prevent unwanted attacks. Every time a network-based web application firewall is turned on in a computer, it scans all the files and applications for threats. It can detect the viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and other malicious software which are installed in the system when you use the computer and tries to close down all the programs present in the computer. The network-based firewall then detects these malicious applications and stops them from further damaging your system. A network-based web application firewall must have good processing power so that it can prevent heavy processing demands from applications that are not needed at that moment.
- Host-Based WAF
Host-based firewalls exist as components of web server software. It is a basically cheaper arrangement compared to cloud-based WAFs, which are designed for small web applications. Since most WAN firewalls have automatic scanning and blocking features, it is easy to install and remove web application firewalls by the administrator. The benefits of installing a host-based web application firewall – apart from the security assessment result – are many. First of all, you would not have to disable your standard security software, such as Windows XP Service Pack 2. Second, the presence of web application firewalls on your system would not affect your entire network infrastructure and would only add another layer of protection to your servers. Lastly, there is the cost-benefit since there is no need to buy costly equipment when installing a firewall.
- Cloud-Based WAF
One of the simplest ways to understand why a cloud-based web application firewall is so important is to consider it in terms of a function as a proxy. A cloud-based web application firewall essentially acts as a second go-between you and that web server you are trying to access, trying to get your information across. Essentially what you are trying to do is get information from that server and deliver that information into your browser. What many companies don’t realize when they are considering a cloud-based web application firewall is just how vulnerable their data is. With the amount of malware out there and the amount of data that is being exchanged across various networks, there is simply no excuse for any company to be without some form of managed security for its networks. A good cloud-based web application firewall helps to deter the sorts of attacks that can result in data loss.