Tag Archives: web application firewall

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Key Indicators that Demand use of WAF for Enterprise Data Protection

Prevention of data intrusion attempts that result in data leaks is the most vital objective of any organization’s security strategy. According to some reliable studies, eight out of ten hackers can break into a system within less than sixty seconds. This sounds extremely uncomfortable because a cyber attack is similar to cancer that spreads to cover the entire system.

Web Application Firewall is a modern avatar of traditional firewall measures adopted by security conscious enterprises. It is necessary to upgrade legacy firewall tools because the modern hackers are in possession of technologically advanced hacking tools that can penetrate traditional measures to prevent intrusion.

Extent of knowledge about data

Familiarity with various aspects of organizational data is a primary need to develop consciousness about security of the digital assets of an organization. One must have an in-depth knowledge about company’s data in terms of different levels of security requirements as a sensitive data will need to be backed by tougher security measures and so forth. Similarly, location of data also plays vital role since there are multiple locations that could be assigned with job of data storage. These locations are network terminals, servers, and storage disks to name a few.

insideLocations of data storage must be classified on the basis of security needs of the stored data because if you are dealing with highly sensitive user login credentials such as passwords, account information, and even personal health information, then such data will carry the highest risk of being attacked. Naturally, your entire focus will have to be on this type of data while creating security infrastructures.

Knowledge about data in terms of sensitivity and locations comes handy at the time of assigning roles, permissions, and fixing vulnerabilities in a given system. Concerned staff must be careful while managing locations of critically important data and should frequently upgrade server infrastructures for enhanced security of mission critical data.

Possible risk potential of permissions

There have been several instances of crimes related to industrial spying because some personnel are prepared to steal ad sell classified information for monetary benefits. Unless you have assigned permissions to right individuals, your sensitive data will be always exposed to wrong individuals who may secretly share it with outsiders.

Assigning permissions and responsibilities to trusted employees can be a logical approach. This can also include multi-factor-authentication, frequent password changes, and regular security audit. You can also disable internet access and use of thumb drives in case of general population of employees so that data theft can be prevented. Modern organizations are found to train their staff as far as security awareness is concerned.

Importance of data encryption

The most vital phase that makes data highly vulnerable to intrusion by cyber criminals is the transmission phase. Similarly, your data can also be hacked easily while it is being generated especially if the same is not protected by way of data encryption. Hackers can adopt a wide array of attacks including phishing, DDoS attack, intruding, or hijacking to get hold on the sensitive information.

Data leak can jeopardize your business operations or hacker’s demand for a ransom can shatter you financially. Https and App Transport Security are some of the most commonly implemented security standards. It is recommended to provide a secure environment in order to protect data at every stage including its generation, transmission, and reception.

Knowledge about industry specific attacks can be very important for anticipating the type of threats to gain immunity against these. In addition to this, one must be prepared to deal with a large spectrum of web attacks that could be in the form of SQL injection, credential stuffing, and phishing among others.

There is no use of deploying a long list of security products because security requirements of every enterprise are not similar. This calls for a tailor-made strategy for selection of specific security products. You may leverage services of security consultants to understand nature and type of threats in terms of events and risks that would be most probably encountered by your site.

Timely intervention

Postponement of addressing vulnerabilities that are identified as serious threats can be extremely dangerous and a large population of websites are found to put off important security decisions. Such delays can result in serious consequences. Every security minded organization must have systems in place that consistently deliver vulnerability scans in addition to seamless monitoring of applications with timely patching and upgrading.

Sometimes, vulnerability could be of serious nature as far as safety of important data is concerned unless one takes action immediately. This calls for a no compromise attitude while dealing with vulnerabilities and these must be identified and fixed instantly or as soon as possible.

In conclusion

Web Application Firewall guarantees assured defense against a broad array of cyber attacks. Alibaba Cloud has been developed as an ideal security tool for large organizations and commerce portals.

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How Can You Keep Your Site Away From Hackers?

When you make your site live it is similar to keeping your office door unlocked with the safe open. In other words, it is an open secret that your data is vulnerable to anyone who enters the premises. And people with malicious intent are not rare to come by. So, the website needs to be protected at all costs from hackers. Site protection is somewhat similar to why you install locks for your safes and doors. The only difference being that you will perhaps not realize a theft has happened when you do fail to install protection systems. Cyber thefts happen quickly and the cyber criminals are fast and invisible. Hackers can target your data hosted on the data center for stealing or they may simply want to mar your reputation online. While undoing the damages inflicted by hacking may be tough, it is indeed possible to prevent these from happening in the first place.

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Tips to protect sites from hackers:

– One of the first things that you can do to safeguard your site from possible break-ins is to keep yourself updated with all possible threats. When you have basic idea of what kind of threats are possible, you can understand how best to protect the site.

– The admin level is where an intruder can get access into a website. So, your duty is to use passwords and names which cannot be easily guessed by hackers. You can also limit the number of times a user can try to log in, since email accounts are also prone to hacking. Login details should also not be sent through emails because unauthorized users can easily get access to your account.

– Updates are costly but absolutely imperative to protect websites from hackers. Whenever you delay routine updates, you are exposing the site to threats. Hackers are equipped to scan hundreds of sites in a very short time to detect vulnerabilities and when they find one, they will not wait. Since their networking is super strong, if any one hacker knows the way in, others will know it in no time.

– While you may feel that your site contains no information which will make it valuable for hackers, the truth is that hacking takes place all the time. These may not be done for stealing data only; the hackers may be interested in using your emails for transferring spam or they wish to install a temporary server to serve illegal files.

– It is important to beware of SQL injections that occur when hackers will use URL parameters or web form field for getting access to your database so that they can manipulate this. If you are using the Transact SQL, inserting a rogue code is simple and this may be used by hackers for changing tables or deleting data or extracting sensitive information. So, it is recommended that you use parameterized queries as most web languages will offer this easy-to-use feature.

– Another critical measure to keep website free from hackers is to protect them from XSS attacks. The cross-scripting attacks or XSS attacks will introduce malicious JavaScript in the web pages that run in your users’ browsers and they can alter the content or steal data and send these to the attackers. This is an important security concern especially with regard to all modern day web apps where the pages have been created mainly from user content. So, you need to focus on ways in which user-generated content is bypassing the limits you are setting and getting interpreted by browsers as something which is not what you intended it to be.

– You can install Web Application Firewall (WAF) which is either hardware or software based and this is between your data connections and site server. So, it will read every bit of information which goes through it. Most modern WAFs run on cloud technologies and are offered as plug-and-play features for modest charges.

– You should also be wary of the amount of information that is being shared on error messages. You are expected to give your users only minimal errors and ensure that these do not give away your server secrets, like database passwords or API keys.

– You can also hide admin pages because you do not want these indexed by the search engines. When these are not indexed, hackers will find it hard to find them. Besides, you can limit file uploads as these will often let bugs pass through even if the system checks them thoroughly. It is best to store these outside root directories and use scripts for accessing them when needed.

– You can also use SSL encrypted protocols for transferring user data between the database and website. This will make sure that the data does not get intercepted in transit or accessed by unauthorized users.

– Leaving auto-fill forms on sites make it vulnerable to attacks when the user phone or computer has been stolen or lost.

– To prevent the data from being corrupted or lost permanently, it is best to keep all data backed-up. You can conduct backups many times and each time, the backups should be carried out in multiple locations for data safety.

– You can also use website security tools which are known as penetration testing tools. You can choose from many free commercial products. For instance, Netsparker which is ideal for XSS attacks and SQL injection attacks, SecurityHeaders.io which reports security headers any domain enables and configures.

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Context Driven Development of Web Application Firewalls

Cyber criminals and hackers have been responsible for some of the most remarkable innovations in the domain of website security in terms of protecting web applications against rising trends of cyber attacks. Evolution of Web Application Firewalls can be a unique example of how new technologies are being developed in response to growing technical capabilities of cyber criminals.

Need for an advanced defense mechanism

A brief look at recent cyber attacks is enough to understand that new generation hackers are increasingly targeting web servers, and web applications apart from websites. Frequency as well as intensity of DDoS and SQL injection events is growing alarmingly along with cross site scripting, thereby necessitating immediate security arrangements for a guaranteed defense.

There can be two principal ways to defend servers and applications against new-age cyber attacks that may include improving the resistance to attacks by building applications with special features or implementing advanced firewall security to protect servers and applications from XSS, DDoS and SQL injection attacks among others.

You will agree that the second approach cannot be expected to guarantee security of the entire gamut of applications considering the fact that majority of commonly used applications are not developed with security against SQL injection or XSS events in the first place. Several applications may be victims of session hijacks thereby demanding unique firewall solutions that have advanced defense capabilities such as Web Application Firewall.

Unlike conventional firewalls that are only capable of analyzing only packet headers, Web Application Firewalls have ability to perform analysis of packets’ contents. Interestingly, a WAF can be built to include hardware as well as software although some WAFs are either software or hardware oriented just like their legacy counterparts. Whichever may be the case, Web Application Firewalls apply configured rules of firewall after analyzing requests received via HTTPS and HTTP including GET as well as POST requests.

This unique mode of action helps Web Application Firewalls identify and arrest traffic of malicious visitors that is sure to be ignored by standard security solutions. Since some of the security regulations cover web security of applications, WAFs must be integrated with a SIEM solution. Proactive and proper implementation of WAF can prevent all types of malicious web-traffic from breaking into servers while helping your enterprise adhere to federal security regulations including HIPAA and PCI-DSS among others.  This can empower security admins with enhanced monitoring capabilities for ensuring security of the web server.

Some Web Application Firewalls are programmed to demand proof of authenticity to visitors by launching CAPTCHA test to prevent entry of bots into the secure zones of web applications.

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Configuration basics of WAFs

There are three important WAF configuration models that individually differ in terms of efficacy for a given context of an application or a web server.

Read More : Considerations for choosing a suitable Web Application Firewall

WAFs can be configured to entertain requests such as HTTP GET, only from specific addresses if Web Application Firewall is configured as per white-listing model. Whenever a user requires the firewall to provide an extremely wide net to prevent a large number of cyber attacks this model can be the best option. However, there is a catch, since a wide net will also prevent authentic traffic from reaching your site. This restricts use of white-listing Web Application Firewalls to a limited infrastructure that may include a handful users or members of staff in an internal environment of an enterprise.

If the application or a business website is operating in a public ecosystem of the internet, that is home to an uncountable variety of cyber crimes and data hacks, then a Web Application Firewall should be configured as a blacklisting model. In such environment there is a huge possibility of an incoming traffic from unidentified sources that could be genuine.  In a blacklisting WAF model, there is a provision to arrest obviously malicious traffic by leveraging preset signatures in order to prevent hackers who operate by exploiting vulnerabilities applications as well as websites. When a Web Application Firewall is configured as a blacklisting model, then it will effectively thwart attempts of sending significantly large number of requests from multiple dedicated IP addresses to prevent a possible or an impending DDoS attack.

The third and the most preferred configuration model of Web Application Firewalls is known as hybrid security WAF configuration model. It integrates important properties of blacklisting as well as white-listing configurations to allow a broader security by considering every possible configuration scenario. This type of a WAF configuration is also gaining increasing acceptance in internal networks of enterprises apart from public internet infrastructures.

Takeaway

It is a well-established fat that cyber criminals and hackers focus on websites and applications. The trend of challenging security of websites is here to stay and gain traction as more and more applications and business websites are being launched by startup enterprises. One must develop abilities to secure variety of devices as well as software applications without deviating from the best practices that must be adhered to during the course of web application development.

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Key Aspects of Web Application Firewalls that Should Never be Ignored

Interesting aspect of any technological development is it encompasses and influences all types of users including those who are qualified beneficiaries and also the people with criminal mindset. Internet technology can be an ideal example of this since it is also helping cyber criminals in addition to a vast population of website owners who are located across the globe.

Evolution of WAFs

Conventionally, firewalls offered sound protection against cyber attacks. However, as the technology developed, hackers gained access to state of the art hacking tools and amazing capabilities to penetrate legacy firewalls. Most of the modern cyber hacks are deceptive in terms of their initial appearance such as authentic registration requests and so forth.

Since these requests are perceived as normal, legacy firewalls allow further processing. Once inside, it is only a matter of a special request made by the cyber criminal to steal sensitive information from your site.

Web Application Firewalls evolved in response to the technological prowess gained by modern hackers. WAF is a specially developed defense to protect mission critical data by monitoring the network traffic to ward off suspicious intruders from gaining entry inside the sanctum sanctorum of your web venture.

Web Application Firewalls prevent this from happening by reducing unwarranted exposure of your applications to evil forces of cyber attacks such as DDoS, SQL injection, and many other types of malware attacks.

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Designed for greater security

Web Application Firewalls are far more superior to conventional firewalls because these are designed to provide protection to applications with an added security layer. Unlike standard firewalls WAFs need no rewriting of rules time and again and thus promise operational ease.

Every time a new threat or intrusion is identified, a Web Application Firewall can be updated with the relevant attack signature. This will make sure that WAF has learned the new patterns of traffic that need to be dealt with. WAF is built to operate more intelligently than its traditional version.

Advanced protection

Web Application Firewall works at a deeper level by securing applications rather than servers against cyber attacks. This guarantees greater customization of the defense measure according to the individual application that promises far better protection against spoofing attacks, data leaks and any other attack that may be designed to compromise data integrity. Traditionally, firewalls are meant to be one-size-fits-all solutions that leave hardly any room for customization.

The list of malicious attacks that can be effectively blocked by Web Application Firewall is highly impressive and includes the most feared varieties such as DDoS or cross site scripts. If you are running an ecommerce site, then WAFs can also protect your specific app resources including WordPress and other mission critical applications.

In addition to offer excellent customizability, WAFs are also extremely flexible in design thereby allowing users to make changes in settings which can be further automated for a swift response to block attacks of similar nature and profile from identical sources. As the WAF gets matured, the need for manual intervention is progressively minimized. Of course, you will always be in a control to decide what type of web traffic should be allowed or blocked in a WAF protected environment.

WAFs are also highly sought after for their ability to automatically protect applications from a wide array of threats providing a broad scope for customization empowered by robust rule sets. The layer 7 security of WAF environment comes with seamless guarantee to defend DDoS attacks.

Puts an end to data leakage

There is a plethora of methods being adopted by hackers to collect data by breaking into seemingly impregnable defenses. It is found that a minor issue of an error message may be a sign of devastating potential of a data hack. Every type of data leak can snowball into a full-blown disaster especially in case of an ecommerce infrastructure that is built to store critical information regarding online transactions.

WAF arrests the data leak by stringently scanning each and every visitor in terms of the requests made while accessing your web applications. Some of the reputed Web Application Firewalls are designed to use built-in data or records of credit card details or social security and other user credentials that are suspicious behavior signatures. This data can always be modified by WAF users by adding specific codes or information.

In conclusion

If you are running an ecommerce business or an application that is designed to collect personal details of users, then you owe it to your customers to provide them a secure environment that can guarantee seamless protection of their credentials. Failure to do so will not only jeopardize your business but can also shatter its reputation.

Every online business venture must adopt security of Web Application Firewall to make sure that integrity of the important data is never compromised. It certainly pays to acquire WAF protection than exposing your business as well as reputation to street smart hackers.

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Multi-faceted Advantages of Web Application Firewalls

There are millions of cyber attacks being inflicted on websites that may suffer heavily casualties in absence of rock solid defense measures. Hackers have gained advanced capabilities, thanks to easy availability of automated hacking tools. Wireless Application Firewall deserves a significant position among all technologies that are aimed at prevention of web based attacks that may originate from familiar or unidentified sources of application threats.

Emergence of WAF

Traditionally, firewalls have proved to offer effective defense against intruders with criminal intentions and it is but natural that these have undergone evolution to match growing threats that are being executed with advanced skills and amazing speeds.

The real risk presented by threats that could not be thwarted by legacy firewalls was their potential to impact the application itself as these threats executed attacks by using HTTP and other authorized protocols. These attackers could gain direct access to systems for hacking sensitive data.

Web Application Firewalls came into existence to effectively arrest modern cyber threats as the traditional firewalls could not offer reliable protection. There are several iterations of WAFs in relation with the extent of benefits that are offered for different costs.

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Different methods of implementation

The most basic implementation of a Web Application Firewall is known as network based WAF, which is essentially a hardware intensive firewall technology. Another feature of a network oriented WAF is its local implementation and the two features can be attributed to its advantages as well as disadvantages. Users can achieve remarkable latency mitigation due to its local characteristics in addition to reduction of impacts due to negative performance. Major drawback of network based WAF is the high upfront costs as well as expensive operation and maintenance.

Networking team is usually assigned with responsibility to look after management of network based Web Application Firewalls. Reputed vendors help users implement large scale configuration or deployment by replicating settings as well as rules. Centralized configurations and signatures further simplify process of securing multiple applications with considerably less efforts and expenditure.

Web Application Firewalls can be integrated fully within the application code or installed on the hosting platform to create an application based WAF for enhanced customizability as well as improved performance. This type of WAF is also much more economical due to lack of any hardware equipment. The most significant demerit of the application based WAF is its relative lack of scalability in large organizational setup.

Since application based WAFs reside locally, their management can be overwhelming as these WAFs are designed to integrate into applications. This implies necessity of local libraries apart from seamless access to multiple local resources such as compute power, RAM, and disk space within environment that is compatible. You should also note that these WAFs are built entirely as software programs, which requires active participation of security as well as server management teams throughout the process of installation and future management.

You will have to deploy cloud based Web Application Firewalls with hundred percent support of a cloud hosting service provider who will also look into the management aspects of these firewalls. Customers are required to involve their management and security team for its configuration by providing access to cloud based WAFs via web interface. These teams will be allowed to tweak the settings to define response of WAF in terms of different cyber threats. The threats may cover some of the most dangerous attacks including SQL injection and also the most dreaded DDoS attack. Needless to mention, your security and management team will also be empowered to switch off specific rule sets as per the need of the hour.

Amazing features of WAFs

Having understood various types of Web Application Firewalls we can now focus on some of the most interesting attributes of these modern security tools. If you are thinking that the advanced WAFs are only capable of blocking unwelcome or potentially dangerous traffic, then you are mistaken. The filter tool of some of the advanced WAFs is capable of not only preventing entry to the bad visitors but these firewalls can also attract good visitors to your site.

Firewall filters act as noise suppressors to improve site’s visibility for better ranking by websites. This is further backed by use of Content Delivery Network to facilitate potential as well as good visitors to find and visit your site without much difficulty. Combination of CDN and WAF is found to be a synergistic one and it enables qualified customers to drop in and browse your web presence for a greater monetization.

Web Application Firewalls are equally accountable for thwarting the bad guys from reaching your site so that your web presence grows without concerns of cyber threats. There are multiple service providers to choose from if you are interested in empowering your site with a hardened security profile that has ability to attract good traffic.