Community Blog Protecting Your Applications with Web Application Firewall

Protecting Your Applications with Web Application Firewall

This article explains the benefits of Alibaba Cloud Web Application Firewall.

By Shantanu Kaushik

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) enables the protection of your web applications by standing between the Internet and your web applications. It monitors and filters out web traffic that travels to and from your application. Web Application Firewall (WAF) works within the seventh layer of the OSI model and provides a defense mechanism against certain types of attacks, including SQL injections, cross-site scripting, Challenge Collapsar, and many more.

Alibaba Cloud Web Application Firewall is a service that competes and leads many other WAF solutions available but is different from the Cloud Firewall service we discussed previously. Alibaba Cloud WAF is primarily used as a defense mechanism to protect your website and applications. WAF identifies malicious traffic generating from the web and filters it out to allow the normal traffic flow without interruptions.


Let’s take a look at some of the features of Alibaba Cloud Web Application Firewall:

  • Access control for HTTP and HTTPS traffic
  • Protection against Challenge Collapsar (CC) attacks
  • Common OWASP attack prevention
  • Zero-day vulnerability protection
  • Protection for web applications and web sites
  • Back-to-origin traffic over HTTP and HTTPS transmissions
  • Protection against HTTP flood attacks
  • Malicious bot traffic filtering
  • Protection against API abuse for business risk control
  • Anti-crawler protection
  • Anti-rush protection
  • Data leakage prevention
  • Real-time storage, analysis, and custom reporting for a long period
  • Sync support between WAF logs to other online services

WAF | Functionality | Features | Alibaba Cloud

Web Application Firewall is a type of reverse-proxy. A proxy protects the identity of a client, and WAF protects the server from attacks that might be generated by client traffic. WAF acts as a shield to protect your web apps. It utilizes different tools to create a protected environment against a range of attacks.

Alibaba Cloud WAF operates with policies that can be adjusted according to requirements and focus on filtering traffic to defend against malicious attacks.

Alibaba Cloud WAF ensures the high availability of your applications by maintaining a secure environment. WAF enhances protection by utilizing core defense capabilities with big data capabilities to provide comprehensive and reliable web security.

Some of the features of Alibaba Cloud WAF are listed below:

1.  Defense against OWASP Threats

These attacks include SQL injection, XSS attacks, web-shell uploading, command injection, illegal HTTP protocol requests, common Web server vulnerability attacks, unauthorized access to core files, and path traversing.

Alibaba Cloud WAF provides backdoor isolation and scanning protection services.

2.  Website Stealth

Alibaba Cloud WAF makes the website address invisible to attackers. This helps the system avoid direct attacks that may bypass WAF.

3.  Protection against Zero-Day Vulnerabilities through Patching

The protection rules used by Alibaba Cloud WAF are tested and cover the latest vulnerability patches that are updated and synchronized globally immediately after release.

4.  Observation Mode

Alibaba Cloud WAF provides an observation mode for businesses that have launched their websites recently. While in observation mode, any suspected attack triggers a warning and doesn’t block the IP or port. This helps facilitate the statistics of false alarms and business application availability for newly launched websites.

5.  Protection against HTTP Flood Attacks

Alibaba Cloud WAF controls the access frequency from a single source IP address. It uses re-direction verification along with measures like machine or human identification. It also prevents massive and slow request attacks by implementing access control policies. To further enhance the protection, WAF also implements the recognition of exceptional response codes, URL request distribution, Referrer, and User-Agent requests.

6.  Threat Intelligence

Alibaba Cloud WAF applies threat intelligence and implements access analysis models for the identification of malicious requests. Then, Alibaba Cloud’s big data security advantages come into play.

7.  HTTP ACL Policy

Alibaba Cloud WAF comes with a user-friendly configuration console. This console helps you combine conditions to control common HTTP fields, such as IP, URL, Referrer, and User-Agent, to form precise access control policies.

Combined with common web attack protection and HTTP flood protection, Alibaba Cloud WAF access control helps create multiple protection layers to identify and differentiate between legitimate and malicious requests.

8.  Low False Rate Positive

Instead of directly blocking an IP address that generates requests frequently, Alibaba Cloud WAF utilizes attack signatures and detects suspicious activities based on URL requests and response code. This enables low false rate positive and provides better business application availability.

9.  Crawler, Anti-Leech, and Variant CC Prevention

This prevents variant CC attacks, such as CDN pingbacks, prevents malicious crawlers, and secures the web resources against malicious links from other websites that may point to non-existent links.

10.  Load Balancing

Alibaba Cloud WAF supports multiple load balancing policies that can balance loads between multiple devices. This is enabled by utilizing cluster mode processing. On top of that, WAF can easily increase or decrease the number of cluster processing devices to expand or contract expansion based on traffic.

11.  No Single-Point of Failure

In case a single device breaks down or is down for maintenance, the service is unaffected and keeps up with any presented loads.

IPS | WAF | Alibaba Cloud Firewall | Differentiation

The Intrusion Protection Service (IPS) focuses on signature and policy-based protection. Along with Alibaba Cloud Firewall, it can check for common vulnerabilities and attack vectors based on a signature and custom-made policies. IPS is a real-time service that sends alerts when any traffic violation or uncommon behavior is noticed. It is a self-learning architecture that adds different signatures and policies over time based on the new vulnerabilities recorded.

Web Application Firewall (WAF) helps protect the application layer. It analyzes the HTTP and HTTPS requests at the application layer to filter or allow these requests. WAF is a shield between the user and the web app that analyzes communications before they reach the app or the user. WAFs are a trusted, first line of defense for applications to protect against the OWASP and other threats.

Alibaba Cloud Firewall protects public cloud resources. Cloud firewalls protect your internal system from the outside world in a cloud setting. Alibaba Cloud Firewall is an infrastructure that is the first line of defense for your cloud resources from the outside world.

Wrapping Up

Alibaba Cloud has over a decade of web security experience that made them industry leaders in IT and cloud computing. Alibaba Cloud’s Security Team consists of advanced security experts from around the globe. The Web Application Firewall (WAF) offers protection against the existing OWASP threats and continually learns about the latest vulnerabilities.

WAF offers protection against HTTP flood mitigation and bots and prevents web crawlers and bots from hampering a website’s resources. WAF detects and blocks suspicious requests that may harm your server. It offers customizable rules for varying business scenarios.

Alibaba Cloud WAF utilizes its big data abilities. Alibaba Cloud has conducted various case studies on different patterns, methods, and signatures related to popular web attacks. WAF analyzes this data using the Alibaba Cloud Big Data Platform, making it a highly-effective protection solution against evolving threats.

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