infoTECH Feature

April 12, 2016

Is Your Website Safe? More Businesses Choose WAF for Website and App Protection

A server attack can cause serious problems for a business, leading to a loss of income and reputation damage as customers try to visit, but are turned away. Today’s savvy businesses work hard to keep their websites safe from attack, demanding the strictest security from their third-partY hosting providers and IT teams.

The most advanced technology available to block such attacks is a web application firewall (WAF). Added as a plugin to a hosting provider’s server software, a WAF monitors traffic coming in and out of an application or website. It filters out any malicious traffic, keeping a business’s network safe.

About WAF

The market for WAF technology has grown tremendously in recent years as stories about attacks and data breaches have continued to dominate the news. A recent report predicted that the market for WAF would grow 17.92 percent each year between 2013 and 2018. The key vendors in the market were identified in the report and included Imperva, Cisco Systems (News - Alert), Fortinet, and Juniper Networks.

WAF technology is nothing new. In fact, the first use of this technology can be traced as far back as 1999, when Perfecto Technologies released a new solution it called an AppShield. At the time, online drugstore and financial site were early adopters of the technology to protect their own sites.

Best WAF Technology

While the field has grown rapidly in recent years, Gartner names Incapsula’s WAF as the best in the industry. The company excels in security, reporting, and protection, beating out all competitors consistently in assessments. Imperva has been an innovator in WAF technology, rolling out products ahead of competitors. By watching the latest threats as they are announced, Imperva can tweak its WAF solutions in response, helping protect data for customers and clients across the globe.

Traditionally, Incapsula’s products have often attracted larger businesses, proving too advanced for small businesses. However, with so many businesses now choosing cloud-based applications, server storage, and website hosting, Incapsula’s reach has dramatically expanded. A large hosting provider can add WAF and other advanced technology to its servers and provide the technology to all of its own clients.

Amazon Enters the Market

Perhaps demonstrating the growing awareness of the importance of WAF, Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) (AWS) recently announced it was rolling out WAF as part of its cloud hosting services. Administrators create a list of rules that the software then puts into place. While Amazon’s cloud offerings have become popular, the company is still trying to keep up with competitors. As a result, the first iteration of WAF for AWS customers will have limits.

While they’re excited about WAF, customers recently expressed concern about those limits, which include allowing only 50 rules to be created and only 1,000 IP address ranges for each IP match condition. For some businesses, this simply isn’t enough to provide the protection they need. While AWS customers were excited about the offering, they’ve also asked for faster cloud storage and upgrades to elastic load balancing.

Growth of WAF Technology

Gartner (News - Alert) agrees with the rapid growth rate of WAF technology, valuing the market at $337 million as of 2013. This growth was 30 percent over the previous year’s value, which was $259 million. Gartner notes that a handful of vendors support this growth and demand is only increasing. Verizon (News - Alert) found in 2014 that 35 percent of all data breaches occur through web application attacks, which demonstrates that those businesses that aren’t sufficiently protected are essentially targets for cybercriminals.

In its report Web Applications are Worth the Investment for Enterprises, Gartner outlined the benefits of WAF, emphasizing that firewalls and intrusion prevention systems are unable to provide the protection businesses need against attacks. Too many security measures focus on detecting intrusions, but awareness of these intrusions isn’t helpful at all unless there are measures in place to prevent attackers from getting through.

As WAFs grow in popularity, cybercriminals increasingly face challenges in launching attacks and data breaches on applications and websites. Businesses of all sizes can now access these benefits through the use of cloud-based software that provides enterprise-level security. Through the security provided by WAF, Imperva and other providers are able to keep businesses safe, which in turn allows those businesses to provide their customers with the security they deserve.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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