The ever-growing demand for digital transformation can only be well-handled with the help of two things: web apps and API. Anyone seeking effective usage of these two crucial aspects must learn about ways to protect them from surged cyber vulnerabilities.
While web application refers to any software/application that can be viewed and used through a browser while being independently located from the end-user, API acts as the backbone of app, bearing the responsibility of transferring data/information between two end-points. So, along with improved function capabilities, the app’s security aspect should also be the core focus of the developer.
WAAP can prove to be a helpful aid in this regard. Let’s figure out the utility of this protocol.
All About WAAP As a Cybersecurity Solution/Tool
Whenever there is a debate about the security implementations of digital solutions as well as their APIs of today, mention WAAP deployment is a must. This inventive security approach has upgraded security implementation systems for both types of solutions after all.
Gartner explains WAAP meaning as an advanced edition of WAF. Moreover, WAAP is a collection of cloud-deployed cybersecurity implementations protecting APIs and web applications. Risk mitigation to API security and bot scanning, it has multiple functions that aim at keeping you safe.
Just as there is a wide range of vulnerabilities around us, acting upon web apps and APIs is also diverse. To counter them, there is an assorted range of WAAP security models that are auto-scalable and cloud-native. Keep in mind that each model has a distinct strategy to improve the safety of API and web app.
Other than risk mitigation, WAAP assists developers/clients in enhancing the app’s performance.
Is WAAP Really Essential?
For sure, it is. WAAP holds more significant in current times due to multiple reasons, such as:
A means of Comprehensive Security
If the pattern of the attacks for the previous years is analyzed carefully, it is easy to say that cyber threat actors web apps and APIs as by compromising them, they can easily get into the entire IT ecosystem of a given organization.
While one tries to protect both these resources, certain challenges are here to cause major impediments. For instance, it’s not wise to use port-based restrictions/blocking in the present scenario.
Earlier, port and protocol-based traffic filtering techniques were used to help greatly. But, with time, threat actors learned to use protocols and ports to carry forward an attack. So, we need something more granular to sense the presence of a port-based attack.
Traffic monitoring is not as it used to be before. Traffic using TLS encryption strengthens privacy implemenations however, at the same time, malware detection becomes tougher with it. HTTP traffic has become so complex that it benefitted only the cybercriminals. IDS/IPS is no longer that effective in the HTTP traffic context.
Suitable for Modern Apps
The demand for cloud-based security aids has increased exponentially. Traditional security practices failed to pivot to meet this requirement.
For example - Threat detection, using signature-based solutions, has become outdated as they are not scalable and can’t make peace with the ecosystem of modern enterprise apps.
As customary security practices and WAF are not competent enough to protect the web solutions (or their APIs) against modern-day threats, adopting WAAP is the only viable choice to make. This ultra-modern security approach has offered solutions to all major issues and challenges.
For instance, WAAP is highly scalable and changes as per the evolved landscape of APIs and web apps. It’s suitable for a multi-cloud ecosystem and grants full control to the end-users. Starting from setting access rules to having customized architecture access parameters,it can make everything possible.
Cost-effective and Effective
Being a cloud-based solution, WAAP demands not much investment and effort when one tries to expand its current capabilities. With all these facts, we have no qualms to declare that WAAP is essential if one seeks a modern, highly scalable, less resource-intensive, and evolved API and web app protection strategy.
Is Traditional WAF not enough anymore?
As WAF has been a Gold Standard of robust application and API security, it’s obvious to get curious about why to replace it with WAAP. Well, there are reasons for that. With time, cyber vulnerabilities have evolved a lot. Also, the web apps of enterprise ecosystems are no longer more feature-rich, sophisticated, and complex today.
Because of these two factors, WAF is losing its viability at a lower but certain pace. Let’s understand it in a better way.
Changes are good, and are happening to match the ever-evolving needs of customers. But, WAF fails to match up with the pace. It is not dynamic and needs manual tuning, custom-creation of rules, and other static settings for functioning and effective implementation. As modern applications cannot bear doing such tasks, WAF is losing its utility for them.
Also, when more than 90% of organizations have moved to the cloud, it is essential to have a cloud-native solution that works 24/7. WAF does not fit here.
WAF is Not Optimal
WAF is effective but is too demanding as well. Developers or security experts have to invest heavily in the manual configuration and tuning that increases the time-to-market of the application. But, today’s world demands instant service delivery. Hence, WAF may not be a suitable choice for businesses seeking early and quick releases.
Enterprise app development as well as vulnerability landscape have evolved a lot. But, WAF is pretty much the same. We witnessed minimal innovation recently. So, it’s not fitting with the modern IT ecosystem on certain fronts.
Enterprises solely banking upon a multi-cloud strategy will have trouble with WAF as it’s not highly scalable and flexible.
Considering all these things, we can easily conclude that WAF is not that competent to match up with modern enterprise application requirements and should be replaced by WAAP (meant for Web Application API Protection), as per the need of the moment. WAAP vs WAF battle is won by WAAP.
It’s highly scalable and supports hugely when an organization has to pivot its security infrastructure according to modified trends and requirements.
Key features of WAAP
WAAP is certainly the most updated and inventive security approach to adopt for the end-to-end security of APIs as well as web apps. But, what makes it different from WAF or any other present approaches? Here are the features responsible for this distinction factor of WAAP.
iWAF or intelligent web application firewall
iWAF or next-gen WAF is one of the most notable features of WAAP that makes it the best fit for modern-era applications. The feature is designed to monitor, detect, and protect the applications from their application layer onwards. One might think that WAF does the same job.
But, iWAF is far ahead of traditional WAF as its detection and monitoring are entirely AL and ML based. Also, for accurate prediction, the behavior analysis technique is used. iWAF is the significant marker between WAAF v/s WAF.
Quick and early bot risk mitigation
WAAP’s bot protection is certainly the best of the breed as malicious bots are spotted during the early conversation stage only. Also, there are predefined security rules for each bot. Those who passed them are considered safe and allowed access to the application.
Runtime application self-protection or RASP
RASP is a praise-worthy security feature doing real-time application monitoring. As the feature embeds in the runtime domain of the application, precise and insightful data on API and web app performance are captured.
The DDoS protection that you get with WAAP is a bit top-notch as it's easy-to-scale and can safeguard the APIs, placed in network and application layers, with the same ease and efficacy. Also, microservices and web apps can be protected.
Distinct protection strategy
APIs, web applications, or microservices, each one of them has different security requirements and WAAP understands all of them well. This is why; it brings individual security to the disposal. It activates the data and context-driven micro perimeters as per the security requirements of each domain.
Protection against the account takeover
Unauthorized access or account takeover is one of the most notorious dangers for APIs and web apps. WAAP reduces its possibilities by activating multiple access criteria. Data, passwords, and even data dumps can be protected easily.
While there is no second opinion that WAAP implementation will allow enterprises to activate one of the most recent and advanced security approaches, its implementation is itself a headache as there are multiple issues to address correctly.
Understanding the legal liabilities
Getting rid of culture and regulation-based hindrances
Finding the middle path between the budget and requirement
SLAs and their clarity
Handing over the application secret keys to a third-party resource
Logging of sensitive data by the service provider
Safety decryption of the TLS connection
These are the most notorious challenges that any WAAP seeker will face during the implementation. Their proper remedy is required for successful implementation.
Once this is done, the next step is to check the solution maturity level. Maturity matters as it’s a sign of quality service delivery. Also, some of the WAAP service providers forget or unintentionally ignore certain crucial WAP traits like cookie signing, CSRF tokens, and URL protection.
Having the assistance of such a WAAP provider is not all-inclusive and will greatly lack the utility. Improved maturity is also a sign that the WAAP solution is ready to integrate well with the existing workflow and SIEM tool.
Gaining a thorough understanding the architecture of your technical ecosystem is also very crucial for expecting effective WAAP implementation. Doing so is more important for WAAP solutions not having the backing of robust WAFs.
Such WAFs are likely to fail at the integration part. Working with SIEM and AST tools will become a nuisance with such WAF solutions. Not only this, such WAAP solutions will also have restricted log retention and no real-time logs. This way, implementation will be only half good.
Web Application & API Protection with Wallarm
Wallarm is one of the most trusted resources to ensure the effective and hassle-free implementation of WAAP across your digital ecosystem.
Application security is a wide domain and is made up of multiple components. Regardless of the extensiveness of this aspect, Wallarm managed to endow its clients with all the leading application API security capabilities with API Security Platform solution.
It offers an ultra-modern WAF for your APIs and web apps, comprehensive API Security practices, DDoS Protection, Client-side Protection, Advanced Bot Protection, and many other kinds of protection. Every protection strategy is likely to be customized and optimized as per the users’ needs.
With facilities like Cloud Data Security, Database Security, and Data Risk Analysis, Wallarm enables organizations to understand key threats to the data, provide a real-time overview of data analytics and data asset protection, automate the risk management, and spot malicious behavior in the infancy stage. All in all, your cloud-based APIs and apps remain protected by means.