Web App Firewall and DDoS Protection: Why You Need Both?
Adopting a “layered approach” is the new norm in the world of cybersecurity. The evolving cyber threats are leveraging the minutest of vulnerabilities that are inevitable regardless of how strong your cybersecurity team is. Having multiple layers of protection around your organization’s infrastructure and endpoints is the only way to keep such threats at bay, and to mitigate the consequences should a security incident occur.
Why Do You Need a Web App Firewall?
SQL injections, cross-site scripting, cross-site forgery and file inclusion are only some of the many prevalent attacks that your web application is vulnerable to in the absence of proper defenses. A Web App Firewall or WAF pretty much works as a reverse proxy for protecting an HTTP/S application from outsider attacks. Based on a predefined set of rules, a WAF can either allow or block access requests to a web application. The rules for inspecting and filtering web application traffic are customizable and can be defined based on the specific needs of a web app.
Modern WAF can detect fraudulent web traffic that apparently looks legitimate due to the advanced tactics of sophisticated hackers. A WAF analyzes every single HTTP request before forwarding it to the web application. To keep hackers from taking advantage of HTTPS by encrypting malicious data, a WAF can also perform SSL termination. WAF forwards traffic to the web app in HTTP after decrypting and analyzing it against the rules. Today, web app firewalls can protect against many of the known application risks. However, a WAF is anything but a ‘set-and-forget’ solution.
A WAF needs to be configured by cybersecurity experts in order to maximize the protection without being overly protective. As new vulnerabilities are detected and newer app versions are released, WAF configurations need to be updated accordingly. There’s always a chance that intruders can leverage a misconfiguration to relay malicious requests. Proper configuration and continuous maintenance are pertinent for effective protection through a web app firewall.
DDoS: Is WAF Enough?
Since a WAF sits between the app’s server and the internet, it can detect an incoming Distributed-Denial-of-Service attack; however, it is rarely enough to prevent a DDoS or mitigate its consequences. There are several reasons why a comprehensive DDoS protection solution is essential for avoiding service degradations and even complete outages. An average DDoS attack is often enough to overwhelm a WAF just like any other network component, and the attack can then proceed to the app server. Besides, they operate on static traffic rules that define the criteria for accepting or rejecting the traffic which is very different from DDoS protection. DDoS protection offers deep packet inspection to tackle various types and intensities of DDoS attacks. Finally, not all components of a web application can be protected single-handedly through a WAF. For instance, a DDoS attack on the DNS can render your web app unavailable despite a properly configured web app firewall. A cloud-based DDoS protection solution can provide an additional layer of security in your defense strategy.
The Bottom Line
With the advanced and more-refined tactics of modern hackers, there is no single solution that can cater to all cybersecurity woes. Organizations need to stack multiple layers of protection to form a comprehensive defense strategy against the full spectrum of modern cyber threats. Investing in a combination of WAF and DDoS protection can prove to be more effective than choosing either one of both. The key is to find a solution provider that understands the needs of your application and offers a comprehensive set of solutions that complement each other to provide all-around protection. And finally, never forget to make sure that the solutions you choose are properly configured.