WAF or Web Application Firewall

Deploying web application firewalls is similar to hiring diligent security guards working round-the-clock at each door of your house instead of simply surrounding your yard with a fence. In a world teeming with cyber threats, WAF presents itself as an evolved solution for specific applications’ defense in cyberspace.

What is a Web Application Firewall?

A WAF or web application firewall is a protective shield for a web application from a potentially malicious client. Just like a physical barrier keeping intruders at bay, it screens and filters the inflow of data to your websites or web applications.

The beauty of WAF lies in its versatility. It operates based on security policies that can be customized according to individual needs. These security rules are continually updated as new threats come to light so your defenses evolve with an ever-changing cyber landscape.

An important aspect to note is that a WAF works on an application level or Layer 7. This points us towards why it’s different from traditional firewalls – it’s about specificity over breadth. While typical firewalls protect infrastructure, the focus of WAFs leans towards shielding specific applications rather than wide network structures.

Why is it Important?

Data breaches are expensive and according to the Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years.

The landscape has changed drastically in recent years with malicious activities like SQL injections and Cross-site Scripting (XSS) skyrocketing. Without a WAF, you’re leaving your web application exposed to these digital dangers.

One critical aspect to consider here is that security attacks nowadays not only aim to steal valuable data but also degrade the performance or accessibility of services. In this arena too, WAF holds its ground by mitigating DDoS attacks which aim to overwhelm servers and cause downtime.

The beauty of a well-implemented WAF lies not just in its robust security benefit but also in how it helps businesses stay compliant with various security regulations such as PCI DSS and GDPR. Thus, reducing the risk of costly fines and reputation damage associated with data breaches.

Types of Threats a WAF Can Prevent

proxy server acts to protect the client identity but a waf is a reverse proxy to protect the web app

Given today’s increasingly hostile online environment, relying solely on traditional security measures isn’t adequate anymore. A web application firewall acts as that crucial layer of defense—keeping threats at bay while ensuring smooth operational efficiency. Here are some of the common security threats that WAF solutions can prevent.

Attackers can inject malicious code by exploiting untrusted data sent to an interpreter as part of a command or query.

Hackers can assume other users’ identities through compromised passwords, API tokens, or other authentication flaws.

Cybercriminals may steal or modify weakly protected sensitive data to commit credit card fraud, identity theft, or other crimes.

Poorly configured XML processors evaluate external entities which can be used to exploit and disclose internal files.

Improper restrictions on authenticated users are to be exploited by attackers to access confidential files without authorization.

Insecure or incomplete default configurations can lead to security misconfiguration which contributes to a breach in a web application.

XSS vulnerabilities in a web application often lead to script execution without validation by hackers who can hijack user sessions.

Insecure deserialization enables cybercriminals to perform an attack on a web application by executing code and gaining remote access to web databases.

Components with known vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers because it runs with the same privileges as the application.

Insufficient logging and monitoring without effective incident response enable hackers to further attack and maintain persistence.

Bad bots often mimic human interaction to perform attacks such as web scraping, data mining, account takeover, and transaction fraud.

Web applications that enable users to upload their own content are vulnerable to malicious code payloads from cybercriminals.

Attackers are increasingly adept at disguising their code to exploit flaws with no signatures that exist before on a web application.

Any newly discovered vulnerabilities on a web application are to be misused by hackers to perform a cyber attack on the same day.

Cybercriminals may attempt to overwhelm a web application with unusual levels of incoming traffic from different sources at the same time.

Read more: Cyber Security Threat.

Different Ways to Deploy a WAF

Web application firewalls (WAF) are widely available on the market. However, they are not all made equal. Different types of WAFs have different benefits and drawbacks, therefore it’s important to know the distinctions before making a well-informed decision.

hardware waf in malaysia

A hardware-based WAF is implemented using a hardware appliance that is put locally on the LAN near the web and application servers. Within the appliance, there is an operating system that supports software configurations and updates. 

The most significant benefit of a hardware-based WAF is its high speed and performance. It tracks and filters data packets to and from the website with very low latency due to its physical closeness to the web app server.

The main disadvantage is the high cost of buying and maintaining hardware devices. Hardware-based WAFs are more expensive than other forms of WAFs in terms of the acquisition, installation, storage, and maintenance.

Large enterprises with hundreds of thousands of daily visitors frequently employ a hardware-based WAF. This is because, in order to efficiently serve such a large number of clients, speed and performance must take precedence.

Furthermore, the administration and operating costs of running hardware are relatively affordable for most major businesses.

vm waf in malaysia

Instead of a physical hardware appliance, a software-based WAF is placed on a virtual machine (VM). All of the WAF components are very identical to those found in a hardware WAF. The main difference is that customers would need to run the virtual machine on their own hypervisor. 

A hardware-based WAF is similar to receiving coffee from a cafe, whereas a software-based WAF is similar to getting it from a drive-thru, where the consumer brings their own spot (i.e. the car) to consume it.

The flexibility of a software-based WAF is its primary benefit. The virtual machine can be utilized not only in an on-premises system but also in the cloud, connecting to cloud-based web and application servers.

A software WAF is also less expensive than a hardware WAF. The main disadvantage is that because it is operated in a virtual machine, it has a larger latency throughout the monitoring and filtering process, making it slower than a hardware WAF.

Software WAFs are clearly common in large enterprises using cloud-based web and application servers, such as data centers and hosting providers. They’re also popular with small and medium-sized businesses looking for a low-cost way to defend their web applications.

cloud web application firewall in malaysia

A cloud-based WAF is a newer generation of WAF that is delivered and managed directly by a service provider via SaaS. (software-as-a-service). Unlike software-based, the WAF is totally hosted in the cloud, requiring the user to install nothing locally or on any virtual machines. 

The main benefit is that it is simple. The user merely needs to sign up for a subscription plan and does not need to install any software. The service provider handles all of the optimization and upgrades, so the user doesn’t have to worry about it.

The negative, on the other hand, is that because the WAF is completely maintained by the service provider, there is little space for personalization.

Cloud-based WAFs are excellent for most small and medium-sized businesses, as they do not require physical storage or manual maintenance, and they are ideal for businesses that do not have a lot of extra resources to run a WAF.

FortiWeb: WAF Solution From Fortinet

waf fortiweb in malaysia

FortiWeb is a web application firewall that protects your business-critical web applications from attacks. It targets known and unknown vulnerabilities, providing you with the peace of mind that your applications are safe and secure.

FortiWeb is easy to deploy and manage, making it the perfect solution for your organization’s web security needs. FortiWeb gives you the most control over your virtual and hybrid environments.

Virtual FortiWeb devices offer all of the same capabilities as the hardware-based devices and are compatible with all of the leading hypervisors, including VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Open Source Xen, and KVM.

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are also supported by FortiWeb.


Next-generation firewalls include a solid traditional firewall base, including VPN compatibility and basic packet filtering, as well as deep packet inspection, antivirus inspection, website blocking, and a slew of additional network security features.

In reality, intrusion prevention systems, or IPS, are included in many next-generation firewalls. Although NGFWs provide additional protection, they are typically incapable of dealing with application vulnerabilities.

A Web Application Firewall, on the other hand, is typically a cloud-based appliance with sophisticated rules to protect against common application-layer attacks such as SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting, and Cross-Site Request Forgery.

Above all, WAF may be set up to learn new rules in real-time and block possible attacks. It also aids in the prevention of DDoS attacks on multiple levels.

Web Apps Protection in Malaysia

waf allowing traffic to proceed according to the positive security model and machine learning

It’s time to level up your cyber security measures! As a premier distributor for Fortinet in Malaysia, Spectrum Edge offers unrivaled products and services to ensure your web applications’ security is always robust and impenetrable. 

Our spectrum of cyber security services extends much beyond the ordinary – we delve into the depth of each potential threat, bolstering defenses where they are most needed. We help guard against digital harm, so you can focus on what matters most – growing your business.

Remember, proactive defense is the best strategy when it comes to online threats; strike before they do! Contact us today and let us show you how we can help protect your web applications without any hassle or complications.