Why did the WAF become essential for cybersecurity?

A scenario dominated by evolving threats requires a tool that increases observability and offers protection against the most varied attacks, even unknown ones.

Rafael Rigues - Technical Researcher
Why did the WAF become essential for cybersecurity?

The increasing digitization of our society has transformed us into a hyperconnected economy, where all aspects depend on technological systems and the data produced by them.

At the same time, cyber threats proliferated, and the risk and impact of cyber attacks multiplied. In the last decade, considering only the North American market, the economic impact of cybercrime increased1 from $781 million USD to $10.3 billion USD, a jump of over 1300%.

In the search for new defense means capable of adapting to a constantly changing landscape, while maintaining costs and operational complexity under control, one category stands out as essential for any modern business: Web Application Firewalls, or “WAFs”.

Threats are everywhere

The main challenge to modern security systems are zero-day vulnerabilities, a name given to those that are discovered and exploited by criminals even before the developers of the affected software know about its existence and have time to create a fix and alert their users.

A recent report2 from the Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore points out that, between January and September 2023, almost 70 zero-day vulnerabilities were discovered, which represents a 40% growth compared to the total in 2022. For comparison, in 2014 the total number of vulnerabilities barely reached 10.

A trend that magnifies this threat is the explosion in the use of artificial intelligence tools. As early as 2019, a Forrester3 report pointed out that the main impacts of using AI would be an increase in the scale and speed of attacks, the creation of new attacks that humans are not even capable of imagining, and the enhancement of criminals’ abilities, allowing even the least skilled to conduct advanced attacks.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that, according to IBM4, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.5 million USD, an increase of over 15% in three years.

How a WAF will help you

A network firewall is designed for access control, inspecting large volumes of requests and granting access according to internal rules based on lighter parameters with lower informational value available at the network layer.

A robust WAF5 monitors and mitigates risks in requests targeted at an Internet application. Potentially malicious transactions are discarded according to the defense characteristics necessary to the application’s and business’s context, and only legitimate transactions are forwarded to the application.

This processing is based on a flexible rule system: you can use preset ones, or customize rules and conditions according to your business’s needs, reinforcing protection against more frequent threats or decreasing the sensitivity to avoid false positives.

A good WAF can protect your application from far more than the top 10 vulnerabilities on the Open Worldwide Application Security Project list (known as the “OWASP Top 10”), as it will help you to program the security that your application requires.

A WAF is a great way to protect legacy applications. With a usually outdated code base and lack of qualified professionals or resources, among other things, it is not always possible to regularly conduct a security analysis on these applications to identify possible vulnerabilities and associated risks, develop fixes, test, and deploy to production without affecting availability.

With intelligent algorithms and the power of programmable security, a WAF will keep attackers away from your systems and minimize the attack surface. You will protect your legacy applications at a lower total cost in reasonable time frames. Your business will be able to meet strict security and compliance criteria while freeing up resources to invest in the modernization of these applications.

The WAF will also be an important ally in observability. By forwarding the events recorded by the tool to your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system or other comparable solutions, you will not only be able to identify an attack, but also determine what is being attacked, how, and correlate current events with historical data, something essential to refine your defense strategy.

Conclusion

In a scenario where threats change every day, the WAF is an essential tool, offering the flexibility you need to protect your business and applications with agility, low operational complexity, and no performance loss. Don’t leave your data exposed, try Azion WAF and talk to our experts. Strengthen your defense today.

References

  1. Cybercrime: monetary damage United States 2022 | Statista
  2. Be Jolly, But Watch Out For Zero and N-day Follies
  3. Forrester: The Emergence of Offensive AI
  4. Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023
  5. In contrast to solutions susceptible to performance loss and zero-day attacks, whose logic of operation is reversed, forwarding requests to the application by default, blocking only in cases where it finds an explicit rule, a signature, for blocking.
stay up to date

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the latest product updates, event highlights, and tech industry insights delivered to your inbox.