The different types of web application firewalls and their benefits to cybersecurity


Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) act as an additional layer of security, impeding any malicious traffic from reaching your company’s resources. They offer a thorough level of protection, analyzing traffic and then deciding whether it is natural or malicious. A WAF will block the traffic if deemed malicious, ensuring no data can enter or leave the site without being checked first.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Typically, WAFs have a stringent set of policies that they adhere to. If a traffic source doesn’t tick the boxes of these policies, so to speak, its connection to the site is denied. This additional layer of security acts as a defense system, blocking malicious traffic and filtering out any nefarious access attempts or data lifts.

Especially considering that 80% of businesses saw a rise in cybercrime within 2020, there’s never been a better time to start seriously considering how robust your security defenses are.

What Types of WAF are there?

Currently, there are three main ways that WAFs are constructed and implemented online. These three methods all entail different circumstances and application methods.

These are:

  • Network-Based
  • Cloud-Based
  • Host-Based

Let’s break these down further.

Network-Based WAF

A network-based WAF is installed locally on a network. These are more often than not the most expensive form of WAFs as they require maintenance and storage space. Their primary purpose is to minimize latency. They are a hardware-based WAF.

Cloud-Based WAF

Cloud-based WAFs are run (as you might have guessed) from the cloud, offering an easy installation process that normally only requires a change in the DNS. Due to this turnkey solution, cloud-based WAFs are the easiest to install and have a range of cost benefits. Without the need for on-site storage and maintenance, these are the cheapest WAF solution.

Typically, cloud-based WAFs are a subscription service, with businesses essentially handing their WAF security off to another company to streamline the process and remove any potential difficulties.

Host-Based WAF

The third type of WAF that companies often turn to is a host-based WAF. These are more favored than their network counterparts as they offer a higher degree of customizability. However, because they still run on local servers, these are still a costly form of obtaining a WAF for your business. They also require maintenance on site.

Due to this, host-based and network-based WAFs are generally less favored than a cloud solution, with the cloud signifying liberation from storage and maintenance fees.

What can a Web Application Firewall Secure?

While most people associate WAFs with protecting websites, there are actually more aspects that they can secure. When deployed correctly, a WAP’s comprehensive defense system can defend a range of different sources.

These include:

  • Cloud Applications – Even things stored on the cloud will be protected when you add a WAF to your system.
  • Third-Party Apps – Once you gain permission, you’ll be able to extend your WAF to cover even third-party apps that your business relies on to function.
  • Microservices and APIs – WAFs provide a comprehensive defense even down to individual functions.
  • Legacy and Active Applications – No matter if currently active or not, a WAF will protect your system applications and ensure they’re impervious to attacks.

A web application firewall aims to reduce the size of your attack surface, protecting a huge range of different potential access points from hackers.


Why Should my Business Use a Web Application Firewall?

Acting as the first layer of security protection, a WAF will protect your business – small or large – from potential threats. The Open Web Application Security Project has stated that setting up a WAF service for your business is the single best practice that you can launch in order to try and keep your site safe from attacks.

Let’s take a look at some core reasons that you should adopt a WAF:

  1. Scalability Reasons
  2. Automatic
  3. Thorough
  4. Low Costs

Let’s expand upon these.

Scalability Reasons

As your business grows, the attack surface (total amount of potential access points for hackers) also scales. Most of the time, you may not even realize just how many possible points of access there are, meaning you won’t be able to defend your site.

However, when you introduce a WAF into your system, they will then begin to cover all of your sites, applications, and hosting environments. This means that even if you forget to put manual security defenses to combat a particular access point, you’ll still have a layer of security watching over your systems.

This allows you to scale your business without having to spend so much time worrying about potentially being hacked.


WAFs are entirely automatic, especially if you opt for a cloud-based solution. Due to this, you’ll spend less time and resources when setting your security team on monitoring duty. Instead of having to run around-the-clock security, the WAF will cover the bulk of the security. Better yet, because it’s completely automatic, you’ll be able to protect yourself 24/7.


As stated earlier, web application firewalls cover a lot more than just a website. Considering that they will offer a comprehensive level of security across cloud environments, local apps, third-party systems, and more, you’ll be able to access an incredibly efficient security system with just one click.

When considering that cloud-based WAF solutions only take a few minutes to connect, only needing a slight change of DNS, it seems like the natural step to move towards a WAF defense system.

Low Costs

Another factor that makes cloud-based WAF solutions so popular is that they’re significantly cheaper than both network-based and host-based WAFs. Due to this, you’ll be able to get a high level of security which is constantly being updated.

Without the need for updating, maintenance, or storage costs, you’ll be able to access a WAF without having to pay a significant portion of your cybersecurity budget. By doing this, you’ll be getting a solid cybersecurity defense system that will help you keep your business safe.

Final Thoughts

Creating a strong cyber defense system for your business is now more critical than ever. With cybercrime cases rising every day, the sooner you take digital security into your own hands, the better.

By employing a web application firewall, you’ll be one step closer to having a comprehensive defense system for your business.

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