Top 9 AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) Alternatives

March 26, 2024

When selecting the best web application firewall (WAF) for your organization, it’s crucial to strike a balance between features, budget and ease of use. With so many security products on the market offering unique benefits tailored to various needs and budgets, navigating this complex security maze may seem daunting; we are here to provide a comprehensive comparison guide that can help guide your decisions confidently through this maze and make informed choices – our Cloud Consulting and Managed Services can also be leveraged here to select products which help protect web applications 24/7!

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Amazon AWS WAF

Amazon AWS WAF stands out for its user-friendly interface and scalability; other WAFs also bring unique benefits. Imperva’s Cloud WAF provides strong defenses against DDoS attacks and threat intelligence; however, its interface may be less user-friendly for non-technical users compared with WAF AWS. Akamai’s Kona Site Defender is another notable WAF that excels in speed due to its vast Content Delivery Network (CDN), but may not fit all business’s pricing structures. Cloudflare’s WAF also presents an appealing package, including its integrated performance and security services, but its use of one network may limit scalability compared to the cloud-based Web Application Firewall AWS. Each choice as it relates to WAF AWS has its own benefits and drawbacks; any decision must be based on your unique business requirements.

Microsoft Azure WAF

Microsoft Azure WAF stands out among other WAFs due to its deep integration into Azure’s ecosystem. Azure WAF stands out from AWS and Google Cloud Armor by not necessitating additional steps to deploy within its cloud environment, making for a simpler, more seamless, and cost-efficient application security setup. Azure WAF’s advanced machine learning capabilities for threat detection and anomaly prevention give it an edge over more traditional WAF solutions such as Imperva or Akamai; however, its technical interface requires more security expertise for optimal use. Platforms like Cloudflare WAF may offer less complicated setup processes but don’t provide as granular control or advanced features like WAF Azure Web Application Firewall.

CloudFlare WAF

CloudFlare WAF is both user-friendly and cost-effective, that protects web apps from common web threats such as OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, SQL injection and cross-site scripting. However, for advanced features like bot deterrence and rate limiting subscriptions are required.

A sophisticated worldwide network comprising more than 200 data centers allows it to deliver swift performance and mitigation capabilities, along with pay-as-you-go pricing structure designed for small to mid enterprises.

Cloudflare WAF features an easy-to-use interface, preloaded rules, and an interactive WAF policies creation tool, making it the ideal solution for users without technical backgrounds or those needing rapid deployment.

Akamai App & API Protector

Akamai App & API Protector utilizes the globally distributed Akamai Intelligent Platform, offering top-tier performance and reliability when handling traffic spikes or attacks of any scale. However, due to its focus on enterprise requirements it may result in slightly increased costs.

Akamai App & API Protector features more complex configuration options and greater control, necessitating security expertise for successful implementation. While automated features such as self-adjusting recommendations and automatic updates may aid implementation, Akamai still requires its own dedicated security team for optimal implementation of complex application security projects.

Akamai may be better equipped than its rivals to handle extensive attacks due to its dedicated scrubbing centers, providing added API protection.

F5 BIG-IP Advanced WAF

F5 BIG-IP Advanced WAF stands out in terms of its comprehensive security features and superior performance. While other WAFs may provide basic protection from attacks, F5 BIG-IP goes above and beyond by offering complete defense against botnets and zero-day threats – something not all competitors can match.

F5 BIG-IP’s machine learning-powered anomaly detection and advanced policy customization provide unparalleled security granularity compared to most WAFs. While other WAFs may struggle with high traffic volumes or complex security needs and attack vectors, F5 BIG-IP easily adapts to these challenges thanks to its integration into both its global network platform and global security solutions.

F5 BIG-IP may not be for everyone; its advanced configuration options require technical proficiency that may not be present with some simpler plug-and-play WAF options on the market. Furthermore, while other WAFs might provide less expensive solutions than F5 BIG-IP does – best suited for larger enterprises that possess both budget and security expertise needed to leverage all its capabilities and features effectively.

Barracuda WAF

Barracuda WAF holds its own among WAFs on the market. Barracuda stands out by targeting SMBs and mid-sized enterprises more affordably and quickly; in contrast to larger solutions like Imperva or F5, which tend to target larger enterprises and require greater technical know-how for deployment.

Barracuda provides excellent coverage against OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, SQL injection and XSS attacks – comparable with other industry leaders; though some advanced features come at a premium cost (a common practice among them).

Barracuda offers deployment options that rival or even surpass many of its competitors, with both on-premises host-based WAF and cloud deployment being possible – something not offered by all providers.

Barracuda stands out from more complex solutions by virtue of its user-friendly interface, with pre-configured rules and visual policy builder for quick deployment by non-technical users or rapid deployment. This makes the product extremely user friendly compared to solutions requiring steep learning curves or extensive technical knowledge.

Google Cloud Armor

Google Cloud Armor, an application firewall built for organizations primarily using Google Cloud for their infrastructure needs and seeking seamless integration, provides organizations with an ideal way to protect themselves while taking full advantage of all that the cloud provides.

Comparing Google Cloud Armor and AWS cloud-based WAF, both offer great integration into their respective cloud services; AWS WAF may offer more advanced rule customization features; traditional WAF solutions like Imperva offer similar dedicated WAF services but don’t feature the deep integration that Google Cloud Armor does.

Google Cloud Armor may not offer as granular control as Web Application Firewall Azure or extensive rule configuration as AWS WAF; however, its tight integration with Google Cloud services, user-friendly interface, and robust defense capabilities make it a strong competitor in the market.

Fortinet FortiWeb WAF

Fortinet FortiWeb WAF is designed for organizations seeking a hardware or appliance-based security solution and those wanting something they can deploy both on premises as well as via cloud environments.

Comparing other WAFs reveals that Fortinet FortiWeb WAF stands out in its hardware-based solution offerings, providing flexibility to organizations that prefer on-premises deployment. While Azure WAF and Google Cloud Armor offer deeper integration into specific cloud environments, Fortinet’s solution offers greater platform independence – giving organizations more independence if they do not want to commit exclusively to one cloud provider or have a multi-cloud environment.

When it comes to threat detection, Fortinet may not compare with Azure WAF’s advanced capabilities; however, unlike traditional WAF solutions like Imperva, Fortinet provides a unified security ecosystem when integrated with other Fortinet products. FortiWeb is included in the FortiCloud suite that protect against vulnerabilities.

Google Cloud Armor may offer a more user-friendly experience, while Fortinet FortiWeb WAF provides more control over security and compliance features similar to Azure WAF. Overall, Fortinet offers an in-depth yet flexible WAF solution that meets a range of organizational needs. 

Imperva WAF

Imperva WAF is designed for organizations looking for a provider with an emphasis on customized protection and advanced features.

Comparatively to other WAFs, Imperva stands out for its dedicated WAF service with an expansive list of features. While Azure WAF and Google Cloud Armor offer deeper integration into specific cloud environments, Imperva makes up for it with superior compatibility and flexibility.

Attributed with similar threat detection capabilities as Azure WAF, and with a user-friendly interface that balances simplicity with control. However, organizations seeking hardware-based solutions or one that integrates deeply with their cloud ecosystem may find other options more suited.

Whether you are embarking on a cloud-based or on-prem WAF, there are important application protection and network-based criteria to consider for successful prevention of web exploits and common attack vectors. There are other promising WAF options including from Cisco and other IT vendors that could be more suitable for your intrusion prevention system needs. 

Web Application Firewall (WAF) FAQ

What is a Web Application Firewall (WAF)?

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a special form of firewall used in front of web applications for filtering and monitoring HTTP requests between an app and the Internet. WAF in front operate at a higher OSI layer than traditional network firewalls, specifically targeting application layer HTTP/HTTPS traffic (Layer 7). A WAF protects your web application against unauthorized access and attacks such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection, and other common web exploits. WAFs achieve this by customizing rules and security policies that define what type of traffic should be allowed and what should be blocked, using advanced techniques like machine learning to recognize threats quickly and mitigate them accordingly, making them an indispensable component in any comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

How do Web Application Firewalls WAF Work?

A Web Application Firewall WAF operates as a protective shield between web apps and the internet. Any HTTP(S) request instead goes through a WAF before reaching its server; then this WAF examines each request thoroughly by assessing its content, source, behavior and source IP addresses before applying set rules such as those from lists such as the OWASP Top Ten to determine whether or not its request is benign or malicious.

If a request is determined to be harmless, WAF allows it to reach the server as intended, creating a typical web page interaction experience. But if it detects unauthorized or potentially harmful application layer attacks against servers, WAF blocks them preventing their reach to server; in certain instances it might even send alerts of potentially harmful requests rather than simply blocking them outright.

Does WAF protect against DDoS Vulnerabilities?

Yes, some Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) offer protection from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks by identifying and blocking malicious traffic before it reaches and incapacitates servers. Fortinet FortiWeb WAF and Imperva WAF provide DDoS protection as features; other WAFs may vary widely when it comes to protecting against these types of attacks; it’s essential this protection be carefully assessed based on capabilities and features provided.

How do I get a web application firewall (WAF)?

Completing a Web Application Firewall (WAF) deployment involves several steps, beginning with an assessment of your requirements and ending in its installation. Your best WAF choice depends on your organization’s individual needs and resources – for assistance on this decision making journey please reach out to one of our cybersecurity experts who can guide your decision process quickly resulting in implementation of an ideal WAF solution quickly.

Is CDN a Firewall?

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and firewalls work hand-in-hand to enhance website security and performance. A CDN consists of distributed servers that serve web content to users based on geographic location, page origin and delivery server itself; its primary aim being high availability and performance through spatial distribution. Conversely, firewalls, including Web Application Firewalls (WAF), serve to monitor, provide intrusion prevention and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.

What is a next-generation WAF?

Next-Generation Web Application Firewalls (NG-WAFs) go beyond traditional WAF capabilities by offering more comprehensive security features. Employing machine learning, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), and threat intelligence analysis techniques, they go beyond simply inspecting HTTP traffic to analyze application behaviors, user interactions and system vulnerabilities to provide a holistic cybersecurity approach.

What is the difference between next-generation firewall (NGFW) and next-generation WAFs?

Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) and a Next-Generation Web Application Firewall (NG-WAF) both provide advanced security features, but they differ in scope and functionality. An NGFW is designed to go beyond traditional firewall capabilities by incorporating additional features like Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), deep packet inspection, and application-level inspection. It is primarily focused on securing layers 3 and 4 that include network perimeter, inspecting the traffic that flows between networks, and preventing network-based intrusions.

On the other hand, a next-generation WAF protects web apps. Machine learning algorithms, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), and threat intelligence are used to help a NG-WAF analyze application behaviors, user interactions, and system vulnerabilities. This gives it the capability to automatically detect malicious web traffic and mitigate a wider range of threats that specifically target web apps, such as bot activities, API abuse, and zero-day threats.

What is the difference between cloud-based, host-based and network based WAF deployments?

Products deployed in the cloud like AWS, Azure, GCP etc would qualify as a cloud-based WAF whereas some on-prem WAF could be termed as host-based.

References

  1. https://docs.aws.amazon.com/waf/latest/developerguide/how-aws-waf-works.html
  2. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/products/web-application-firewall 
  3. https://developers.cloudflare.com/waf/ 
  4. https://www.akamai.com/products/app-and-api-protector 
  5. https://www.f5.com/pdf/solution-center/Advanced-WAF-Data-Sheet.pdf 
  6. https://www.barracuda.com/products/application-protection/waf-as-a-service 
  7. https://cloud.google.com/armor/docs/cloud-armor-overview
  8. https://www.fortinet.com/content/dam/fortinet/assets/data-sheets/FortiWeb.pdf
  9. https://www.imperva.com/resources/datasheets/Cloud-Web-Application-Firewall_DATASHEET_2022.pdf