It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall

Dave Piscitello, Internet Security Skeptic | 2/4/2011 | 12 comments

Dave Piscitello
Recent WhiteHat Website Security and Verizon Data Breach Investigation reports offer convincing evidence that Web applications remain the primary targets for attackers. WhiteHat reports that cross-site scripting, data leakage, and content spoofing are the most common attacks. Verizon notes that 98 percent of all data breached was gathered off servers and Web applications.

Both reports cite many causes, but the two that pose big challenges for IT are: 1) keeping servers, applications, and databases configured to prevent unauthorized access and leakage, and 2) dealing with a publication "pace" that does not provide IT sufficient time to test and validate new content. Even the best IT Web teams are forced to publish new pages, scripts, and active content on the assumption that new content does not introduce new vulnerabilities. Incident statistics suggest that the contrary is true.

There is no "Easy Button" you can push to mitigate these causes. Ensuring that every element of a Website is configured securely is hard, especially for sites containing considerable amounts of dynamic content. If this unhappy scenario applies to your organization, consider whether a measure you probably take to protect your networks from external attacks -- a firewall -- can protect your Web applications, data, and servers against unauthorized access and misuse.

Web application firewalls are not a substitute for hardening your Website, but they can offer an additional layer of defense against application and data attacks. Like Internet firewalls, they are configured with a set of rules (access controls) that enforce a security policy. An Internet firewall examines network traffic, so it blocks unauthorized, malformed, suspicious, or known malicious traffic and allows (forwards) authorized application messages to appropriate applications or servers.

In contrast, a Web application firewall examines application message protocols (HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, IM, VoIP, etc.) as well as data that's submitted via Web forms or returned in responses (HTML, XML, virtually any MIME type). The value proposition of a Web application firewall is simple. If you aren't confident that your defenses against databases (SQL insertion), code injection, login attacks, and cross-site scripting are rock-solid at each of your Web servers, defend them all at a single enforcement point.

If this approach sounds attractive, determine what you'll expect a Web application firewall to do in your multi-layered defense. Your security policies should give a 100,000-foot view of how a Web application firewall might help. Your IT or Web team can identify your application mix, markup and scripting languages, and databases. A review of your organization's Web presence goals will help you define who may access Web apps or data, from where, what the intended input is for input forms, and what the intended output is for each hyperlink. These will all be relevant as you research Web application firewalls and discuss your needs with vendors.

In my next column, I'll suggest questions to ask prospective Web application firewall vendors that will help you make an informed purchasing choice.

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batye   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   4/5/2011 9:34:36 AM
Re: Interest

Secure DNS in the clouds

Here is better translation :)


Let me tell you about the project SkyDNS , which aims to improve the safety and productivity of the Internet, protecting users from hazardous sites and bad personalities.

What is SkyDNS?

In a nutshell - is a free Internet filter. The database service is information on nearly four million domains, grouped into dozens of categories.

SkyDNS to block the virus and phishing sites, banner ads, pornography, and other resources. No censorship! "Everything is determined by your personal preference.

Some facts

DNS-server network consists of four machines, spaced across the country (in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk).

Daily service handles from 30 to 50 million DNS-queries (load floats at the weekend people are surfing much lower than on weekdays).

Base sites is growing at a rate of about two thousand new domains a day.

For whom?

For you, of course :-) But seriously, there are several groups for which SkyDNS can be very useful.

For example, the system administrators. Starting to work with the service, kill two birds with one stone. First, the significant fear itself and consumers from situations where the pots go on all sorts of links, advertising the juicy links Anna Kournikova, and then ogrebayut to complete by viruses, steal passwords, and so on. Second, have the right to ask for a raise, allowing the director to improve the efficiency of employees by restricting access to social networks and razvlekalovke.

However, business owners can use the service on its own, setting does not take much time, and is available to anyone with a technical background (and even without it).

Next, let's talk about your parents. Many people think - how to protect their children from the Chernukha, which abundantly rozlita on the Internet. Now there is a solution, and the same as a block pornography is very effective.

Just people who are tired of banners, teasers, and pop popapov who are constantly trying to impose something or to inform. "

How does it work?

Filtering sites running on the protocol level DNS, and therefore does not slow surfing, and requires no CPU or memory on your computer. Dangerous sites are blocked in this scheme to the actual treatment of the contents of pages and, consequently, eliminates the very possibility of at least some clues to viruses or scams. Bad companions did not know about you try to go on their resources.

In the general case of service need not even install additional firmware to your computer, rather in the network settings for your computer, router, or modem, change the DNS-address of your ISP's address SkyDNS: .

Detailed guidelines for users of Windows and Linux, are on page manual .

Work with SkyDNS from anywhere in the world, but at the moment we are concentrating on the inhabitants of Russia, Ukraine and CIS. Into the West (and perhaps the East) will go in 2011.

What's next?

Of course, we will increase the power of service, we plan to run servers in all one million people in Russia and Ukraine.

We are now actively working on a subsystem of Statistics, after starting from which users can see which sites and which categories are most popular, looks like the curve of activity sites visited during the day, as phishing and virus Resources managed to block the service, and so on.

In addition, before the end of the year we plan to make a special offer for our schools that can use all the features of the service is absolutely free and legally - this is an extremely important task, given the constant verification and attacks on teachers of informatics from the regular Inspectorate.

While resources are scarce, but in 2011 must implement the API for external services. Opportunity to provide Internet filters under its own brand may be interested in Internet service providers.

eethtworkz   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   4/5/2011 9:29:11 AM
Only a fool would not consider WAF today...

Frankly speaking,only a fool in IT would refuse to consider a Good and effective WAF solution today.

Especially if that person has even a slight grounding in the latest Security trends on the Web.You need a very good and tight integration between the WAF and the rest of your Intranet/company website infrastructure[Something we are struggling with right now].

Once you get the integration in place,you put one more layer of defense between you and the bad guys.

And that helps us security Pros sleep better(much better) at night.



eethtworkz   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   4/5/2011 9:25:03 AM
Re: Interest

Everythings in Russian.Tried Google Translate;not very good and effective translations.

Could you fill us in more on what was so cool about the SkyDNS concept.


Mathew   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   4/5/2011 5:55:41 AM
Which WAF to invest in ?
Are there any features comparison guide on the top brands available in the market. ? We have been testing Citrix Netscaler and facing some issues with performance.

SaneIT   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/16/2011 7:41:02 AM
Re: Interest
How large is your orginization and what model Watchguard box are you running?
Melissa   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/16/2011 6:47:10 AM
Re: Interest
Thanks dave for sharing knowledge  which isinformative and useful. With the growing web threats there is need of proper websecurity to prevent data loss  prevention . In my organization I use watchguard firewall to protect the systems from various web  threats.
The_Phil   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/6/2011 11:03:33 AM
Re: Verizon / USSS details
It does make sense depending on the size of the orgaization as well as the data sensitivity levels. The more you need to safeguard against leaks, the more barriers are presented into the environment. I have even seen some organizations that are not allowed to send outbound messages.
securityskeptic   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/6/2011 10:41:36 AM
Re: Verizon / USSS details
Actually, Phil, having "compartments" and intradepartmental firewalls is not that uncommon at all. It makes good sense to have defenses as close to the asset as possible. It makes even more sense to distinguish assets within an organization, by host type (client, server) and application service (VoIP, web, mail, DNS). The more granular your defenses, the better, IMO. A Web app firewall allows you to do this for your public or intranet web-enabled services.
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The_Phil   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/6/2011 9:32:55 AM
Re: Verizon / USSS details
Unless IT organizations start puttin firewalls within the intranet. It would be odd compared to the traditional network but could help sniff out insider attacks.
batye   It's Time to Consider a Web App Firewall   2/5/2011 12:56:45 AM
Re: Interest
something new from Russia just came out to the market called - SkyDns 

I would not recommend SkyDns as when I tested it - got conflict with my hardware firewall and Panda IS 2010 firewall's 

but idea and working concept has it merit...
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