There has been a lot of interest around Web application firewalls lately for two very different reasons. One is the proliferation of malicious attacks on Web sites. The second is that it is being recommended as a “best practice” for securing Web sites by global security organizations, the foremost of which is the Payment Card Industry that is headed by the world’s biggest credit card companies.
There are a lot of reasons why security vulnerabilities arise. It could be that input validation was poor, or the session is not secure, or perhaps system settings are not properly configured. It could also be the result of flaws in the Web server software or in the chosen operating system.
Most companies nowadays do not have the resource to write secure code that they employ in Web applications. This lack of resources could be manpower or time. What is more, application scanners are not 100% foolproof, while hackers are getting more and more creative everyday.
Even if you rely on third party providers for your Web applications, this does not guarantee that your Web site would be secure. What is more, most providers do not even come out with a patch to correct security flaws that are discovered after the release.
As a responsible Web site owner, you should take proactive steps to secure your Web site. Protect yourself and your visitors from potential hacking attacks or malware infection. If you do not do this for sales and profit, do it for online reputation and goodwill. A good way to do this is through the use of a Web application firewall.
What Is a Web Application Firewall?
Simply put, a Web application firewall is server application or appliance that monitors http/https data packets. It utilizes a set of criteria to promulgate security policies that you configure into it. In effect, it can block out unusual application traffic, hacking attacks and other known exploits.
You can configure it to allow all requests in and block only those that it deems malicious, or the other way around blocking all traffic unless it is known to be good. It can be used in several modes, including reverse proxy, transparent proxy, layer two bridge, network monitor, or installed on Web servers. It can have additional features like caching those pages that are often requested, load balancing and SSL acceleration.