How To Secure Web Vulnerabilities with Web Application Firewall ?

Web Application Firewall has several advantages, when it comes to stopping cyber crime.

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With an increasing number of organizations going online along with the millions of their clients/ users/ customers, cybersecurity has become critical and indispensable for organizations to proactively protect their networks, systems and web applications. 

Web Application Firewall for securing the web
Web Application Firewall for securing the web

Cybercriminals and hackers continually look for weaknesses/ misconfigurations in web applications that they can exploit to get access to and some level of control over the websites or even the hosting server for the purposes of data theft, identity theft, distributing malicious content, inject defacement, spam content, spreading hate messages, etc.

These weaknesses and misconfigurations are what are known as web vulnerabilities. These web vulnerabilities are detected and exploited by cybercriminals through automated means like vulnerability scanners, bots, etc. and other specialized tools (that can locate common and publicized vulnerabilities from web platforms).

Case in point- In the US alone, over 2 billion records (personal and confidential information, Government records, etc.) were breached into in the past year. The biggest targets for cybercriminals in the US have been small businesses with over 50% of them experiencing cyber-attacks, followed by the medical and healthcare industry.

There were also several data breaches targeted at the US military and federal agencies, police departments and educational institutions. The average cost of a data breach (loss of customers and reputation, post-breach response, detection and escalation cost, etc.) in the US is estimated at $7.35 million.

Some of the most critical and exploitative web vulnerabilities in 2018 are listed below:

  • SQL Injection: A perpetrator sends malicious SQL code to manipulate the backend database to reveal sensitive and confidential information, get unauthorized administrative access, etc.
  • Cross-site Scripting (XSS): This is an injection attack wherein users are targeted and redirected to malicious websites through which their accounts can be accessed, Trojans activated, etc.
  • Remote File Inclusion: The perpetrator injects malicious scripts/files/codes into the web application server whose execution results in data theft, manipulation, etc.
  • Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF): The perpetrator transmits unauthorized commands to the web application that forces the end user to perform unwanted actions that could result in unsolicited fund transfers, changed passwords, etc.

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Securing web vulnerabilities

We would all agree that these web vulnerabilities need to be identified and secured before hackers and cybercriminals find these. The most efficient and cost-effective way to secure web vulnerabilities is through a web application firewall (WAF) along with a proactive mindset and holistic cybersecurity strategy. This will enable organizations to focus on their critical business functions.

How does a Web Application Firewall work?

Web Application Firewall (WAF) acts as the shield between the web applications and the traffic which includes both legitimate and malicious requests. In the event of a security loophole in the web application, the WAF patches that point without changing the code and acts as the first line of defense, automatically blocking attackers, malicious requests and bad traffic including bots, automated scanners, spam or attack IP addresses, attack-based user inputs, etc. from accessing the web application through these loopholes. By doing so, it provides developers buffer time to make the necessary code changes instead of immediately fixing the security loophole protected by the WAF.

Benefits of using a WAF

  • Instantaneously patches application layer vulnerabilities until the code is fixed by developers.
  • Blocks all malicious requests, cyber-attackers and bad traffic automatically.
  • Allows custom rules that are specific to an organization’s complex needs to be included to avoid business logic vulnerabilities in the web applications.
  • Continuously monitors and analyzes traffic behavior/ attack patterns

Choosing the right WAF

Here are some important considerations to guide you in making the critical choice of the right WAF.

  • Comprehensiveness: Choose a WAF that is comprehensive and effectively detects and instantaneously patches application vulnerabilities, and continuously monitors emerging threats and DDoS attacks.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Choose a WAF that is cost-effective and fits into your organization’s budgetary constraints. Cloud WAFs are more cost-effective with lower monthly subscription costs and faster upgrades than on-premise WAFs.
  • Custom rules: Choose a WAF that easily accommodates custom rules for business logic flaws.
  • Intelligent WAF: Choose an intelligent WAF that allows the security personnel to decide the course of action (whether to block, flag or challenge the request).

AppTrana is a WAF which provides comprehensive, round-the-clock, customized security to the web application. It is built by experts based on the existing risk exposure of a web application and with surgical accuracy in the security rules to patch application vulnerabilities and zero assured false positives. 

The other important benefit of using AppTrana is that it continuously monitors and analyzes traffic behavior/ attack patterns and through Machine Learning incorporates the learnings to strengthen cybersecurity strategies and policies in the future. This way organizations can effectively protect their web applications, resources and reputation, and earnestly safeguard their clients/users’ data, finances and other assets.

About The Author:

Venkatesh Sundar – Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Indusface

Venky has played multiple roles within Indusface for the past 6 years. Prior to this, as the CTO @indusface, Venky built the product/service offering and technology team from scratch and grew it from ideation to getting initial customers with a proven/validated business model poised for scale. Before joining Indusface, Venky had 10+ years of experience in security industry and had held various mgmt/leadership roles in Product Development, Professional Services and Sales @Entrust.

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