If you are wondering what is WAF? Then, you need to know about the importance of WAF or a Web Application Firewall. It is not like a traditional firewall as it does not offer perimeter protection for the entire company. On the other hand, a WAF is actually a highly specialized security tool which has specifically been design to protect the web applications and not the servers.
The Web Application Firewalls resides outside the edge of the network which is in front of the public side of the web application. It analyzes the incoming traffic and that is what it does best.
What Makes WAF Different?
WAF focuses on the application layer (that is layer 7), and not on layers 3 and 4 of the OSI Model like a traditional security device. Since WAF is highly specialized, most of the network managers end up making the mistake of not investing in it.
However, in the hyper connected world of today, WAF has become a necessity as web applications interact directly on a daily basis with the backend database servers which hold all of the precious information that belongs to the enterprise such as the personal information about the online retail customers. It is this information that hackers try to acquire.
Many people have a misconception that the Intrusion Protection System would be able to supplement a firewall just enough to completely protect the web application which is far from the truth. Although, an IPS monitors incoming network traffic, it certainly is not equipped to be able to interpret the complex nature of the traffic of HTTP. The IPS has been designed to protect the network at large like a perimeter firewall, and is not a dedicated edge based application.
Hackers are able to conduct their malicious interactions like an online retail customer, while interacting with the online retail site. The attacks occur as malicious file executions, cross-site scripting and SQL injections. This is where WAF comes in. It has been designed to protect against such attempts, including the OWASP Top Ten application risks. It is able to discern such fraudulent interactions from the legitimate risks. The WAF accomplishes this through interception and analyzing of each and every HTTP request before it reaches the web application. WAFs have been designed to conduct SSL termination. They work as an inbound or rather reverse proxy.