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What’s The Difference Between A Web Application Firewall And A Next Generation Firewall?

“Why employ a web application firewall if there is a next-generation firewall in place?” we’re frequently asked when it comes to protecting web applications. The quick answer is that you will require both. (ngfw)

What is a Web Application, exactly? (ngfw)

Websites used to be essentially static pages with very little user involvement when the internet was in its infancy. This began to change in the 1990s, when web servers began to allow communication with server-side custom scripts [1], allowing developers to create web-based email, web stores, and blogs. All of them are web apps, which are programmes that are stored on a distant server and distributed over the internet using a browser [1].

Nowadays, web applications are increasingly complex, requiring HTML5, JavaScript, and databases, among other things. They could be a repository for company data, customer data, or payment information, and as a result, they’ve become a tempting target for hackers, therefore we need to secure them properly.

What is a Next-Generation Firewall, and how does it work? (ngfw)

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) combines the capabilities of a typical firewall with extra features such as intrusion detection and prevention, URL filtering, anti-virus/anti-malware, identity awareness, time-based decisions, and location awareness.

The most significant feature of an NGFW is that it gives ‘application awareness.’ A classical firewall relies exclusively on network-layer parameters (such as IP address, port, and protocol) to identify and regulate applications, however this is insufficient information. To identify an application, an NGFW looks for aberrant information in message headers and even within the data itself, and can be programmed to scan for specified character strings (words or phrases) within the message body. To protect the network, it then takes context-based decisions on application traffic, which is often internal users going outside the network.

It Isn’t Enough to Protect the Application Layer (ngfw)

The problem stems from the terminology used by common networking frameworks; for example, in the OSI model, the application layer is defined as “the collection of shared communications protocols and interface methods used by hosts in a communication network” [2], with HTTP, FTP, BitTorrent, and SNTP as examples.

Traditional application layer protection is insufficient to adequately safeguard a “application.” We must protect additional resources within infrastructure applications, such as web servers, business apps, and application data.

Application fluency is essential to safeguard infrastructure apps, business apps, and data. Although an NGFW can recognise an application regardless of the port or protocol it uses, this is not the same as application fluency, which requires the capacity to grasp how an application works rather than merely what it is.

This is where the Web Application Firewall comes in.

A Web Application Firewall defends web servers and hosted web applications against vulnerabilities at the highest level of the computing stack, as well as non-volumetric network layer attacks.

We distinguished WAFs from NGFWs by their capacity to:

At the application level, provide DDoS prevention.
Check inputs for accuracy (Stopping SQL injection)
Protect against cross-site scripting.
Before vendors issue formal patches, provide virtual patching for apps.
Block attacks that are based on known or custom-defined application flaws.
Detect tampering with cookies and sessions.
We can block websites and applications from receiving undesirable web traffic.
Block attackers’ access to potentially sensitive server answers.
Using advanced caching technologies, you can improve the speed and performance of your website.
In a few distinct ways, a WAF achieves crucial application fluency. Many current WAFs employ automatic learning to get a better understanding of typical application behaviour over time, allowing them to distinguish between malicious and genuine traffic. Developers/admins can explain the WAF exactly how their application operates and the application fluency required to make traffic decisions by manually configuring application policies. Spectacular WAFs and many cloud solutions will be able to decrypt HTTPS traffic, giving WAFs a better understanding of application traffic. When we combined these features with a default security capability and some business logic, it may make decisions about how to process web app traffic that an NGFW couldn’t, giving them a higher level of protection.

Source: ngfw , next gen firewall

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