Internet security has evolved into a never-ending arms race between hackers and cyber security professionals. To stay one step ahead of their adversaries, companies need to implement continuous monitoring of all of their virtual environments.
This can be done by using Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) that block malicious traffic from entering the organization’s intranet from the Internet. WAFs are especially crucial for organizations that have thousands of employees and multiple websites with complex content management systems.
These security tools work as a last line of defense against cyber attacks by preventing attackers from directly accessing the intranet. However, choosing the right type of WAF could make or break your enterprise’s digital defenses. In this article, we will provide you with insights into why you should choose a WAF over an intrusion detection system (IDS).
What is an Intrusion Detection System?
An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a security tool that monitors the network to identify suspicious activity or intrusion attempts. More often than not, IDSs are coupled with firewall solutions for better protection.
What is Web Application Firewall?
A Web Application Firewall or WAF is a security tool that prevents cyber attacks from entering an organization’s intranet when the website or application is being accessed from the Internet. It acts as a last line of defense against cyber attacks by preventing attackers from directly accessing the intranet.
WAFs can be implemented in two different ways: front-end and backend. Companies typically implement web application firewalls in their front-end web servers to prevent hackers from entering the company’s network.
Front-End WAFs work on the principle of preventing hackers from directly accessing your internal network via your public facing website or webpage. They are most often seen as a layer of protection between your website and external Internet traffic. This type of WAF is usually installed on a single server but could also be distributed across multiple servers depending on your needs and budget.
When Should You Use Which Firewall?
An IDS is a software that tracks and analyzes malicious traffic on the network, but it does not prevent attacks from occurring. It usually works as a layer of defense that helps detect intrusions. If your organization has a large number of employees, an IDS may be the best option for you. However, if you only have a few employees or users who are not trusted with sensitive information, then you should use a WAF.
A WAF can work as an additional layer of defense to an IDS by preventing malicious traffic from entering your intranet from the Internet. You would want to use a WAF in this case because it will provide more protection by blocking traffic before it enters the network rather than after it has already been sent. This means that hackers will not be able to access any internal systems or databases unless they have already bypassed your firewall, which is nearly impossible.
In general, when assessing whether to use an IDS or WAF, it’s important to consider what type of data is at risk and how much damage could occur if those assets were compromised and stolen. The more sensitive the data stored on the network, the more important it is that you implement both types of security measures.
Differences Between WAFs and IDSs
- Block malicious traffic from entering the organization’s intranet from the Internet.
- WAFs are especially crucial for organizations that have thousands of employees and multiple websites with complex content management systems.
- Are primarily used in enterprise environments to detect suspicious or abnormal activity on one or more endpoints (e.g., servers, workstations) on the network, with a focus on detecting malicious software such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other forms of malware (e.g., spyware).
- IDSs are typically installed on endpoints (e.g., servers) that are important to an enterprise’s business operations.
Benefits of Web Application Firewalls
WAFs are the best option for organizations that have thousands of employees and multiple websites with complex content management systems. In addition, these tools can be implemented on a per-application level and provide granular monitoring capabilities to reduce the risk of a successful attack. These controls also eliminate false positives which can cause IDSes to misidentify valid traffic as malicious. Finally, WAFs are more cost-effective than intrusion detection systems as they can be implemented without costly hardware requirements.
The benefits of WAFs include:
- Preventing attackers from directly accessing the intranet
- Eliminating false positives
- Granular monitoring capabilities
- Easy to implement
WAFs are a key component of any company’s Internet security strategy. Their ability to automatically identify and block threats, such as hackers and malware, before they can get into the network makes them vital to your business’s growth.
It is important that you select the right type of WAF for your company in order to maximize protection for your business and reduce false positives. For example, if you use a signature-based WAF, it will detect attacks based on their signatures. This means that if your network is not infected with a specific piece of malware, then it will be blocked from entering the network by the WAF. In contrast, an IDS will monitor traffic at different layers of the OSI model and look for suspicious patterns like high CPU usage or abnormal session lengths. However, companies tend to choose IDSs because they are cheaper than WAFs and are easier to implement when compared to more complex WAFs. However, IDSs have large false negatives which can lead to phishing attacks or other security breaches slipping into your systems when they would otherwise be blocked by a WAF