Network Firewalls

The Top 10 Web Application Firewalls

Explore the best web application firewalls (WAF) on the market, their features, and an indication on who they are best suited to.

The Top 10 Web Application Firewalls Include:
  • 1. Akamai App & API Protector
  • 2. Amazon Web Services (AWS) WAF
  • 3. Barracuda Web Application Firewall
  • 4. Cloudflare WAF
  • 5. F5 WAF
  • 6. Fastly Next-Gen WAF
  • 7. FortiWeb
  • 8. Imperva Cloud WAF
  • 9. NetScaler API Protection
  • 10. Sucuri Website Firewall

Web application firewalls (WAF) can monitor, filter, and block suspicious or unwanted HTTP traffic to and from a web service or application. It specifically analyzes traffic between the internet and the web application. Using the OSI model, WAF solutions will deliver protection at the application layer (also called layer 7). While proxy servers can protect a user’s endpoint identity through using an intermediary, WAF operate differently. They act as a reverse-proxy by protecting the server from exposure and requiring users to navigate the WAF before accessing a server or application.

Web application firewalls are important to environments with multiple web applications and many users trying to access those applications regularly. WAFs provide adaptive and comprehensive protection for web applications and any company data that may be stored on those applications. Web application firewall solutions can be cloud-based, host-based, or network-based.

This article will identify the best web application firewalls on the market. Each listing will provide a summary of their capabilities and feature set to help you decide which solution meets your needs.

Akamai Logo

Based in Cambridge, MA, Akamai Technologies have developed an integrated web application firewall with bot mitigation, API security, and layer 7 DDoS protection. The solution provides high performance for end-users, with a wide range of customization possibilities. Admins receive automatic updates of network status as part of a streamlined remediation process. The interface is also easy to manage through a clean interface that offers extensive visibility into all traffic and attacks. Akamai offer a range of pricing models, each with different features and capabilities for different use cases.

The solution has an advanced API discovery feature that allows admins to manage risks with new or previously unknown APIs. It also supports DevOps integration through a simple GUI. DDoS protection is delivered through the application layer. The Akamai App & API Protector can be deployed quickly and managed easily. The solution provides in-portal guides, wizard setups, and configuration workflows to assist in initial onboarding and configurations. Other notable features include bot detection and add-on tools like advanced AppSec management controls, managed services, and professional services. Akamai provide useful support during onboarding and can help you fully customize the solution to your needs. We would recommend the platform for companies of all backgrounds and sizes that need a versatile, yet robust, solution.

AWS Logo

The AWS WAF is a powerful web application firewall that delivers robust protection from common threats like web exploits and bots through diligent monitoring, filtering, and rate-limiting capabilities. The solution is managed through the AWS Firewall Manager, giving admins centralized, unified access to data and controls. Widely customizable, the solution allows for teams to develop their own rules and policies in line with company procedures or compliance requirements. This is achieved with the tool’s native, visual rule builder or JSON code.

The tools filtration capabilities are particularly robust; admins can successfully filter out attacks such as SOLi and XXS, as well as filtering out unwanted traffic based on IP addresses or behavior. AWS WAF can be managed entirely through APIs, allowing teams to create and maintain rules automatically. The solution provides extensive visibility, providing real-time metrics and can capture a raw request’s metadata regarding geo location, URLs, and IP addresses. This solution would suit medium to large sized companies that use AWS web applications.

Barracuda Logo

Barracuda is a California-based company specializing in network appliance and cloud service solutions. Their web application firewall, the Barracuda Web Application Firewall, blocks sophisticated web-based attacks that target applications hosted on web servers. In addition to offering reliable traffic inspection and filtering, the solution will also scan all outbound traffic to deliver effective data loss prevention capabilities. The solution can be configured to deploy updates automatically; this means that the solution will be aware of new and emerging threats. The solution itself has strong authentication and access control capabilities; this ensures that security is always enforced and access to applications and data is monitored.

The solution stands out for its attractive and intuitive interface. The Barracuda Web Application Firewall is a highly customizable solution with a wealth of “out-of-the-box” functionality that makes the solution effective from day one. The solution also provides adaptive profiling, file upload control, bot spam protection, volumetric and application DDoS protection, exception heuristics, and granular policy configuration. This solution can be deployed to a range of environments through various APIs. Barracuda Web Application Firewall is a powerful solution that is designed to endure particularly large attacks. We would recommend this solution for medium to large sized enterprises that require a powerful, yet configurable solution.

Cloudflare Logo

Cloudflare is a San Francisco-based cloud security company that provide a range of solutions including content delivery network services, cloud cybersecurity, and DDoS mitigation. The Cloudflare WAF is a comprehensive WAF platform that offers fast DNS, a global content delivery network (CDN), and robust DDoS protection. The solution enables instant access to Cloudflare’s global network. Admins can make the most of no-code configuration tools for easy and quick setup. Cloudflare provide a Managed Ruleset – a set of pre-configured rules that offer fast and immediate protection from zero-day vulnerabilities, common attack techniques, data exfiltration, and stolen credentials.

Admins can build custom firewall rules to help secure web applications and respond to specific vulnerabilities. The platform is managed through a unified user-interface that is easy to navigate and clear. You can use an API to extend this to other host environments. Dashboards deliver relevant information in real-time, allowing you to understand what’s happening on your network. All Cloudflare WAF plans come with DNS, a global CDN, and DDoS protection, though a range of tiered plans provide additional features. Cloudflare WAF is suitable for organizations of all sizes and needs due to the breadth of packages on offer.

f5 Logo

F5 is a Seattle-based application and network security specialist that also focuses on application delivery. F5’s WAF solution can be deployed via the cloud or as a managed service – this ensures that it will work in almost any environment. The platform offers strong security and performance, allowing for effective filtration and monitoring. F5 uses secure encryption to protect data and identify anomalous traffic and behavior. Strong reporting capabilities allow admins to easily analyze incoming requests, generate security reports, correlate attack trends, and evaluate potential attacks.

Notably, the solution can protect against spam, viral attacks, fraud, and directory harvesting though effective implementation of SMTP and FTP security checks. The solution integrates with major web application vulnerability scanners to help manage assessments, apply policies from a single location, and identify vulnerabilities. Admins can import test results from DAST scanners, including QualysGuard, WhiteHat, and IBM. This powerful solution is feature rich and flexible; we would recommend this solution for SMBs looking for a comprehensive and trustworthy solution.

Lastly Logo

The Fastly Next-Gen WAF solution is a unified web application and API security tool that provides adaptive and intelligent protection from sophisticated attacks such as account takeover, credential stuffing, API abuse, and malicious bots. The solution allows for flexible deployment, including cloud, data center, and hybrid environments. All Fastly Next-Gen WAF plans include virtual patching, DDoS protection, and TLS encryption. Fastly Next-Gen WAF comes with a range of “out-of-the-box” features for fast onboarding and routine management. The signal-based approach enables more diligent and precise monitoring while reducing instances of false positives.

The solution can block account takeover and API abuse through careful inspection and monitoring of endpoints. Anything that isn’t authorized can simply be blocked. Other notable features include GraphQL inspection, API and ATO protection rules, edge and advanced rate limiting, and custom signals. The user interface is clean and intuitive, making it easy to find reports and relevant alerts. The platform provides constant and effective Layer 7 visibility into the entire application and API environment. Fastly offer a range of pricing plans with tiered features catering to a range of needs and organizations. We would recommend Fastly Next-Gen WAF for medium organizations looking for a comprehensive and effective solution.

fortinet logo

Fortinet is a cybersecurity company that offers a range of competent security products, with a focus on firewall solutions, endpoint security, and intrusion detection systems. Their firewall solution, FortiWeb, is an advanced and comprehensive web application firewall that leverages ML for consistent and accurate protection. The solution can defend your organization’s web applications and APIs from DDoS attacks and bot attacks as well as common threats and techniques. Able to integrate with a range of enterprise environments, FortiWeb offers comprehensive visibility across an application environment including SaaS, cloud, and on-prem.

FortiWeb is supported by FortiWeb Cloud Threat Analytics, an intuitive ML-based tool that can effectively identify attack patterns across an environment, then providing actionable intelligence. FortiWeb Cloud Threat Analytics can also perform security posture scanning to provide recommendations of how firewall configuration settings can be improved; this will reduce the chance of false positives. Any attack data aggregated is then cross referenced across Fortinet’s entire customer base – this access to a large dataset increases the chances of identifying new threats. The solution also provides incident risk prioritization and workflow integration. We would recommend this solution for medium to large enterprises that require an effective and robust firewall solution.

Imperva Logo

Imperva is a cybersecurity company with a focus on data and applications security, for both on-prem and cloud environments. The Imperva Cloud WAF is a cloud-based web application firewall solution that offers comprehensive security for active and legacy applications, APIs, microservices, cloud apps, containers, and third-party apps. It is designed with “out-of-the-box” functionality, ensuring fast setup and automated protection. By leveraging data from the Imperva Research Labs, Imperva Cloud WAF offers robust protection while reducing false positives. It has a range of deployment options to suit any environment, including SaaS WAF, WAF gateway, and cloud WAF.

The platform’s clean and intuitive interface is simple to navigate and configure. In addition to having preconfigured “out-of-the-box” rules, admins are able to customize the solution through self-service custom rules. The terraform integration feature allows for automated DevOps provisioning. The Attack Analysis feature aggregates threat information to generate actionable insights. A security operations and support team operate 24/7/364, ensuring fast remediation and support when needed. The platform is also PCI-certified. We would recommend this robust and powerful solution for medium to large enterprises.

NetScaler Logo

The Netcaler API protection solution is a WAF solution that includes bot mitigation and API protection features. It offers robust security for web applications, especially in environments where a lot of users are working remotely. The platform is a cloud-based tool that works well across all deployment environments and application types. The tool is easy to integrate with your existing security stack.

It integrates well with vulnerability scanning tools to use gathered data to inform WAF configurations and policies, thereby providing effective protection. Another key feature is session awareness; this is the ability to monitor specific user sessions and tailor security each time. This covers aspects such as form fields, cookies, and session specific URLs. Other highlights include SQL injections, virtual patching, JSON payload inspection, AI and ML-based zero-day attack protection, bot management, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) support, with traffic monitoring for intended and unintended data exposure. This effective and highly configurable solution is one that we would recommend for medium to large sized enterprises, particularly those in the e-commerce industry.

Sucuri Logo

Sucuri is a specialist web security vendor that offers website security and WAF solutions. The Sucuri Website Firewall is a web application firewall solution that seeks to prevent threats, speed up loading times, and enhance website availability. It can protect data in transit by creating SSL certificates for your company’s firewall server. The platform offers high-performance caching option, DNS record alteration, and access to the Sucuri WAF network.

Sucuri offers CDN speed enhancement, CMS and hosting compatibility, as well as high availability/load balancing for streamlined and frictionless user experiences. Admin access can be redacted to whitelisted IP addresses if your network falls under a DDoS attack. While offering strong security, Sucuri’s solution is adaptive and easy to use. A range of pricing plans are available, ensuring that this solution fits a range of environments. With this in mind, we would recommend Sucuri Website Firewall for small to medium sized organizations that require a flexible solution that can be tailored to their environment.

The Top 10 Web Application Firewalls