Businesses need to worry about different types of cyberattacks, many of which could bring down their websites, erase their data, cripple business processes, impact customer experience, tarnish their reputation, and even plunge them into hot waters. legal.
An analysis of 7 million websites found that businesses know on average 94 daily attacks, and their websites are visited by bots 2,608 times per week. In fact, around 12.8 million websites worldwide are infected with malware.
Given the rising cost of cyberattacks, businesses must take steps to protect all of their online and digital properties, including websites, web applications, web servers, and Internet traffic. The amount you invest in the right defense mechanism will only be a fraction of the cost of an attack, which can include downtime, lost sales, reputational damage, regulatory penalties, and costs other corrective measures.
One of the proven methods of protection is a web application firewall (WAF). Let’s see how it can help you strengthen your defense, protect your online properties from malicious actors, and benefit your business.
How does a web application firewall work?
WAFs reside outside of a network and in front of the public side of a web application. They work as a reverse proxy to filter, monitor, and block malicious traffic from reaching the application layer. They also prevent unauthorized users from exfiltrating data from a website, web application, or web server. You can implement a WAF as software, an appliance, or a cloud-based service.
WAFs constantly scan your web applications for vulnerabilities and automatically patch weak spots so you have more time to fix issues. They also analyze traffic and generate reports to provide insight into your threat landscape so you can strategically focus your cybersecurity resources.
WAFs apply rules (also called policies) to determine which traffic is safe and which traffic is malicious. You can customize the criteria based on your security policy and regulatory requirements. Advanced WAFs can analyze large amounts of threat data and update rules automatically using machine learning technologies to help you keep up with the complex and rapidly changing threat landscape.
Common rules mechanisms used by WAFs include regular expressions, scoring, signature-based analysis, behavioral analysis, reputation analysis, and application profiling. Most WAFs are based on three security models:
Whitelist model (positive model)
This method allows online traffic that meets specific requirements to reach the application layer. For example, you can configure a WAF so that only traffic from trusted IP addresses can access sensitive files on your web server.
Blacklist model (negative model)
This model uses predefined or custom security rules to block malicious traffic whose characteristics are known to pose a threat to websites and exploit vulnerabilities in web applications. For example, you can block any user input containing a specific script.
Hybrid model (model included)
This approach combines the whitelist and blacklist models to allow traffic that meets specific criteria while blocking traffic that violates your security policies.
Why do you need a web application firewall for your websites
Now you might be wondering what is the benefit of a web application firewall? Here are 12 reasons why a WAF is essential in your cybersecurity arsenal:
1. Protect against a wide range of attacks
A WAF can help prevent different types of threats. These include DDoS attacks, SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), zero-day, business logic and man-in-the-middle attacks, as well as malware and ransomware , session hijacking and defacement attempts.
2. Improve your cybersecurity posture
A WAF provides a proactive way to block malicious activity before hackers can infiltrate your systems and networks. It serves as the first line of defense against various threats while complementing other protection systems (eg, firewalls and intrusion prevention) for a layered approach to cybersecurity.
3. Detect botnet attacks
As threat actors automate their attack methods with bots (e.g. sending spam, launching DDoS attacks), organizations can no longer keep pace with manual techniques. A WAF helps you automate your defense and increase bot detection to stay ahead of threat actors.
4. Respond to new and zero-day threats
You can easily update policies and quickly respond to new or different attack vectors. For example, you can quickly execute rate limiting during a DDoS attack simply by adjusting WAF policies to mitigate the impact of the attack.
5. Build customer trust
A WAF protects customer data on your web server and web applications to prevent breaches that could tarnish your brand reputation and diminish customer trust. Having an excellent reputation for data security is no longer an option if you want to acquire and retain more customers.
6. Protect against data loss
For many businesses, data is their most valuable asset in today’s business environment. A WAF protects against data loss and corruption, ensures high availability, and helps improve business resiliency, not only at the network level, but also at the application level.
7. Minimize the cost of an attack
Cyberattacks have high hidden costs. Along with downtime and lost revenue, repetitive damage could impact your sales for years. If customer data is stolen, you may also have to pay for legal action and remedial action (e.g. credit monitoring.)
8. Improve the customer experience
A WAF can prevent many attacks (e.g. DDoS, botnet, credential stuffing) that could compromise your customer experience. It works behind the scenes to protect your online properties from attack without affecting your customers’ interaction with your brand.
9. Ensure regulatory compliance
Data privacy laws are changing rapidly, and companies need to proactively address vulnerabilities before breaches occur. A WAF is an essential part of a cybersecurity toolkit to help you comply with regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR, to avoid hefty penalties.
10. Reduce IT overhead
The number and level of sophistication of cyberattacks means that IT teams, many of whom are already exhausted, can no longer keep up manually. A WAF automatically runs security tests and monitors traffic to free up your IT resources so they can focus on responding to real threats and executing strategic initiatives.
11. Inform your security strategy
An advanced WAF collects and analyzes data from every attack and gives you insight into the threats your business is facing. You can paint a complete picture of your risks, focus your data security strategy and resources on what matters, and effectively improve web application security.
12. Support digital transformation
Cybersecurity is an essential part of any digital transformation (DX) strategy. This goes hand in hand with collecting and using customer data to deliver an exceptional customer experience while informing accurate decision-making.
How to Select the Right Web Application Firewall for Your Business
There are many things to consider when selecting a WAF for your business. Here are some questions to ask:
- How will the WAF fit into your environment?
- How does the WAF detect and respond to attacks?
- What does the WAF protect against?
- What does the WAF record and does it meet your reporting and auditing requirements?
- How is the WAF managed and updated?
- Does the WAF allow customization?
- Is it easy to deploy the WAF?
Most businesses can benefit from using a cloud-native WAF because it’s easy, flexible, and simple to deploy. It should secure all your applications and APIs to protect against command injection, SQL injection, XSS, XSRF, session hijacking, etc.
Also look for a smart WAF with advanced analytics. It can learn from your company’s attack history and data from other organizations to identify new vulnerabilities, distinguish bot traffic from human users, and proactively allow, block, report, or dispute a request.
Outraged signatures and anomaly detection, your WAF should identify and track malicious entities even when characteristics such as IP addresses and user agents change. You can compile a complete picture of your risk profile and focus on the threats having the most impact on your business.
Additionally, you should consider scalability, multitenancy, and bandwidth costs for traffic spikes, as they can affect the speed, performance, and availability of your web applications.
The Future of Threat Protection: Unified API and Web Application Protection
The WAF should be part of your cybersecurity arsenal. To stay one step ahead of threat actors, organizations must go beyond a single tool to employ a multi-pronged approach driven by a single risk engine for the most effective and efficient protection. .
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 30-35% of publicly available APIs and web applications will be protected by web application and API protection services that consolidate WAFs, DDoS protection, API protection and bot mitigation.
ThreatX’s unique threat engine can help you improve your protection effectiveness while thwarting attacks you might miss if you cobble together disjointed solutions that don’t integrate well with each other. Learn more about our platform and see how you can reduce your risk.
*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of The Web Application and API Protection Blog written by Neil DuPaul. Read the original post at: https://www.threatx.com/blog/why-do-you-need-a-waf-for-your-websites/