Computer and network firewalls have significantly improved the overall internet security of individuals and organizations since they were introduced. However, the progress of technology marches on, and like mobile phones and the internet, firewalls have evolved too. They’ve adapted to new technologies and, more importantly, new threats.
Web application firewalls, or WAFs, were developed as a new type of firewall created to respond to threats beyond what a traditional firewall could handle. These threats used authorised protocols (such as HTTP), and attacked the application or system over that protocol. The attacks are disguised as genuine requests made to forms on your site or application. They appear authentic to traditional firewalls so they are allowed to proceed; making traditional firewalls unable to guard against these attacks. Once these requests get through to your application, the hacker can send a special request through your website that will in turn release sensitive data stored on your database. WAFs stop that from happening.
WAFs work to protect against unauthorised data exposure on a website or application. WAFs are beneficial for any online business, especially ecommerce or online retailers, that rely on storing private user data securely. Without adequate cybersecurity, customer information will be vulnerable to web hackers, and if it becomes common knowledge that a website has suffered a major cyberattack, it can cost the company not only business, but also customer trust. It’s no exaggeration to say a serious web attack can ruin your company, and a WAF can work to protect all incoming and outgoing traffic to your company’s website. The WAF can automatically filter out malicious web traffic and it will allow your business to manually decide who they want to block from their site.
A WAF proactively protects websites and applications against fraud or data theft; blocking any suspicious activity. Inspecting every web request for cross-site scripting, SQL injection, path traversal and 400+ other types of attack, this protection ensures that your data, and your customer’s data, remains secure.
Other benefits include:
It’s a good idea to be running vulnerability scans regularly. Ideally, if you are an ecommerce business you would be running scans once a quarter or several times a month. Consider what you might happen if you discover a vulnerability in your website or application; you might have the resources to patch the application or fix the problem quickly, but most businesses won’t have the expertise or skill immediately available. If your company falls into the second group, then your company is at risk as long as that vulnerability is present. Some WAFs have the ability to use your scan findings to temporarily patch your application for immediate protection. This temporary patch isn’t a full solution, but it’s enough to mitigate risk until you’ve prepared a permanent fix.
Hackers can gather data in a myriad of ways. Unless you know you’ve been compromised, detecting them can be tricky. Data leakage can be caused by something as insignificant as a malicious error message presented to a user, so if your application is harbouring critical data, such as source code or credit card numbers, then it’s very easy to become subject to a leak. And any kind of leak can turn into a disaster. A WAF would scan every request to your Web application users, and if something appears unusual, the WAF stops it from leaving your network. Most WAF’s have high-level behavioural signatures looking for credit card numbers and social security numbers already built-in. But you can customise, and add any additional signatures, such as specific files, information or code.
As you can see there are many benefits for having a WAF as part of your business. It’s easy, safe and provides yourselves and your customers with security and peace of mind.
If you’d like to talk about using or installing a WAF on your network, and how it can benefit your business, get in touch with the Veber team today to see how web application firewalls can strengthen your site!