What is WAF
Contemporary web applications struggle with implementing and managing traditional firewalls. The old way of approaching firewalls just isn’t responsive enough for a modern, agile, development environment. In-App WAF technology has recently entered the web app security scene to change how we view firewalls and app security.
Security should be responsive to your needs, not something you need to keep building around. Being able to implement a firewall in your web application can give your dev team the structural support they need to fully protect your data.
Firewalls might feel a little old-fashioned, but In-App WAF is here to give us a fresh look at this technology.
What is WAF
In order to talk about In-App WAF technology, we first need to talk about WAF in general.
A WAF is a Web Application Firewall. These are individualized firewalls that are launched server-side to protect your web app from malicious data transfers.
A traditional WAF blocks harmful data from coming in or out of the app. You can think of a WAF as building a wall around your web application. Just like building a wall, a WAF also comes with some structural weaknesses.
A WAF is a great security tool if your application isn’t being developed in an agile or dynamic environment. These are older security solutions that were built when apps were less adaptive and constantly changing than they are today.
Dev teams often struggle to keep their WAF updated to new changes in their appreciations. This limits the overall protection offered by a WAF, but also causes bigger concerns down the road.
A WAF can flag more false positives than not. This is especially the case after a web app has gone through several updates and changes over its dev cycle.
What is In-App WAF
This is where In-App WAF comes into play. The theory behind the In-App WAF wasn’t to change what a WAF does, but to relocate where it does it.
An In-App WAF moves the firewall from the network level to inside of the app itself. This provides plenty of structural advantages over old-school WAF development. An In-App WAF can be quickly customized to fit the security needs of your web application.
By locating the firewall inside of the app, In-App WAF is instantly ready for both cloud and agile development environments. It is much more responsive than traditional firewalls which can be time, and labor, consuming to modify as apps change.
Differences Between WAF and In-App WAF
Despite being built on similar technologies, WAF and In-App WAF are worlds apart.
Traditional firewalls redirect data and are riddled with false positives. It’s much harder to fine-tune a WAF and ensure that your end-users are getting a streamlined experience.
An In-App WAF is purpose built for this kind of activity. In-App WAF cuts out the traffic redirection in favor of performing the same data filtering at the application layer. Your end-users won’t experience the same kinds of hiccups as they might with older firewall technologies.
How Does In-App WAF Work?
The principle behind In-App WAF is simple. It takes all of the functionality of WAF and moves it from the network layer to inside of the application layer. This not only improves performance, but also changes how your dev team interacts with their firewalls.
In-App WAF is dynamic and lightweight. It can be changed on the fly as your application’s real-world environment changes. Your dev team can skip the learning phases and complicated settings and go straight to enhanced security protection.
Why In-App WAF Is Gaining Popularity
There are a few big reasons that outline why In-App WAF has become the go-to solution for development and security teams.
The biggest reason why In-App WAF has become so popular is that traditional firewalls just can’t keep pace with today’s development environments. The threat environment as well as the development cycle just moves too quickly for a traditional firewall to be as effective as it used to be.
Traditional firewalls rely heavily on slow-moving threats. In-App WAF, on the other hand, is capable of responding to the rapid pace of both of your applications updates as well as the constantly changing landscape of threats.
In-App WAF can also provide your team with much more nuanced information about the attacks that target your application. By locating the firewall inside of the application, you get accurate reporting about threats, attack vectors, and even information about user sessions during attacks. This “screenshot” of an attempted attack can be used by your team to patch any vulnerabilities other software missed.
In-App WAF also works alongside other active and dynamic security software like RASP. There’s a growing movement away from reactive security measures and towards responsive security that identifies threats in real-time before a data breach even occurs. In-App WAF is another part of this important update to how we see web application security.