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WAF Comparison: Akamai WAF vs. AWS WAF vs. open-appsec WAF

With the increasing number of cyber threats and the growing complexity of web applications, it's essential to have a robust WAF in place to protect your business from potential security breaches.

When it comes to WAF solutions, there are many options to choose from, including AWS WAF, Akamai WAF, and open-appsec WAF. These solutions differ in features, pricing, and performance, making it challenging to decide which is the best fit for your organization.

This article will take a detailed look at the main differences between these three popular WAF solutions, helping you make an informed decision about which one is best for your organization's needs.

The Difference Between AWS WAF, Akamai WAF, and open-appsec WAF

Differentiating Factors


Akamai WAF

open-appsec WAF


It is not an open-source WAF.

It is not an open-source WAF.

It is an open-source WAF.

Rules, signatures, and exceptions

It uses AWS rules to tailor web application security.

It uses Kona Rules to streamline the security of your web app.

It doesn't use rules, policies, or exception handling (instead, it uses machine learning to ensure web app security).


AWS WAF pricing is based on the number of web requests and the number of rules used.

Akamai WAF pricing is based on factors like regional traffic measurements, geographical location, source, and destination IPs and ports, etc.

open-appsec WAF pricing is free, but you'll be charged if you need support and maintenance.

Ease of maintenance

Complicated WAF maintenance due to the presence of rules and policies.

Complicated WAF maintenance due to the presence of rules and policies.

Simpler maintenance due to the absence of rules, policies, and exception handling.

Waf community and support

It has a large community.

It has a medium-sized community base.

It is a new WAF, so it has a small community, which makes it easy to get tech support.

Similarities Between AWS WAF, Akamai WAF, and open-appsec WAF

  • All three WAF solutions are designed to protect websites and applications from malicious attacks.

  • They all provide logging and reporting features to help users understand traffic patterns and detect potential attacks.

  • All three solutions are updated regularly to address new threats and vulnerabilities and improve their performance and usability

Akamai Kona WAF

Thr Akamai, like other traditional WAF services, inspects all incoming traffic, detects malicious attacks, and protects your web application from attacks.

Akamai has two identical services that offer protection against web app attacks. There’s the Kona Site Defender (which serves as the WAF) and the Akamai Web App and API Protector (WAAP).

The Kona Site Defender is the traditional WAF, with features like multiple security configurations, custom rules, API protection, the Kona Rule Set, etc. The Akamai WAAP is also a WAF, but it’s best for individuals that want to concentrate security on their APIs, have less customization, and need only a single firewall policy.

Akamai Kona WAF Features

Since this article is about web application firewalls, we’ll concentrate on Akamai’s Kona Site Defender. Some of its outstanding features include:

  • Self-Tuning And Automatic Updates

This Akamai WAF feature analyzes all security triggers (for true attacks and false positives) and provides accurate security recommendations to your admin.

  • Akamai Kona Rule Set

The Akamai WAF has constantly updated rules that you can use to streamline the security of your web app. To curb zero-day attacks, the Akamai team periodically reviews the security logs of their users and, in turn, recommends configurations to fend off malicious attacks effectively.

  • Layer And Rate Controls

They also have layer and rate controls, which include:

  • Application layer control that enforces your web app’s firewall rules.

  • Adaptive rate control that protects your web apps against denial-of-service attacks at the application layer.

  • Network layer control that protects against DDOS attacks at the network layer and also enforces IP whitelists and blacklists.

Pros and Cons of Akamai WAF



Does not increase web latency when it is deployed.

There are some reports of increased web latency after WAF deployment.

Fast customer support.

The user interface is difficult to navigate for beginners.

Offers unique and customized rules that are used to tailor security for different web app structures.

Some custom Akamai WAF rules are hard to configure.

Has an effective bot mitigation service.

Has a feature that allows you to effectively track traffic from specific IP addresses, geographical locations, etc.

Offers strong protection against application layer attacks.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) WAF

The AWS WAF is one of the few WAFs that offers both cloud-based and on-premises web application security services. It generally monitors the HTTP/S requests that pass through your web app and prevents attacks that may consume excessive resources, cause downtime, or compromise security.

Features of Amazon Web Services (AWS) WAF

Some of the major AWS WAF features include the following:

  • Web Traffic Filtering Using Rules and Signatures

This feature adds an additional protection layer against attacks from the web and third-party apps. It does this by allowing you to create rules to filter out malicious web traffic according to IP addresses, HTTP headers and bodies, URLs, etc. These WAF rules can be decentralized and reused across multiple websites and web apps.

  • Real-Time Visibility

This AWS WAF feature uses the real-time metrics of Amazon CloudWatch to capture raw traffic requests (with details that may include IPs, URLs, user agents, referrals, etc.). Following that, it analyzes and audits these requests to assist in determining the security needs of your web apps and making necessary recommendations.

  • Fraud-Control And Account Takeover Prevention

This WAF feature, peculiar to AWS, is a managed rule group that protects your web application’s login page from unauthorized access. Its job is to prevent login page attacks like brute-force login attempts, credential stuffing, login attempts using compromised details, etc.

  • Bot Control

This feature provides real-time details when your web application is under bot attack. AWS WAF mitigates this by deploying two bot protection firewalls: one prevents the entrance of negative bot traffic, while the other allows authorized bots like statuary monitors and search engines.

Pros and Cons of Amazon Web Services WAF



There’s very minimal operational overhead.

The AWS WAF will not inspect the first 8KB of payloads.

The availability of a wide range of rules helps tailor web application security.

Only available to Amazon Web Services customers.

Possible to implement rate limit rules although not based on JWT

No zero-day protection as it is based on signatures.

Ease of integration and deployment with other Amazon Web Services.

Pricing is determined according to the features and services that you use. So if you’re not an expert or good at managing, it can become too expensive.

Does not increase web latency when deployed.

The AWS WAF is easy to deploy for beginners.

open-appsec WAF review

Are you looking for a way to block attacks on your web application before they happen? open-appsec uses machine learning to continuously detect and preemptively block threats before they can do any damage. Our code has also been published on GitHub, and the effectiveness of our WAF has been successfully proven in numerous tests by third parties. Try open-appsec in the Playground today.

open-appsec is an automated web application firewall and API security system that uses machine learning to examine traffic requests before they access your website and APIs. It is one of the few firewalls that can preemptively protect against zero-day attacks – like log4shell, spring4shell, text4shell, and even the recent Claroty Team82 JSON-based SQL injection when popular web application firewalls like the AWS WAFs failed.

The open-appsec WAF can automatically stop and block attacks and bad actors by analysing your web application’s structure, user behaviour, etc., to find trends. It uses these trends to provide preventive threat protection against OWASP Top-10 and zero-day attacks.

Features of open-appsec WAF

Machine-Learning-Based Request Monitoring

open-appsec uses machine learning (ML) analysis to discover how people typically use your online application. This information is then used to automatically identify abnormal requests and forward those requests for additional investigation to determine if they are malicious. This proactive approach to maintenance reduces the possibility of web app attacks.

Additionally, open-appsec operates with two machine-learning models:

  1. An offline model trained with data from millions of malicious requests

  2. A real-time model that is automatically fed by incoming network traffic.

These two machine-learning models work hand in hand to eliminate the need for exception management and threat signature maintenance, which are features that make other WAF solutions buggy.


Many popular WAF technologies provision infrastructure through physical methods such as setting up pointing and clicking in a user interface, physical hardware configuration, and batch scripts. Unfortunately, this manual infrastructure provisioning method is slow, error-prone, and can lead to security gaps.

Because of this, the open-appsec WAF uses IaC to help you easily edit and distribute configurations within the web application firewall while reducing the chances of errors and security vulnerabilities. Also, open-appsec’s IaC feature helps you avoid undocumented ad-hoc configurations, ensures ease and speed of deployment, and reduces the risk of data breaches while allowing you to focus on securing your web application.

This feature can deploy open-appsec using HelmCharts, the GraphQL API, Terreform, or Kubernetes Annotation.

Advanced Threat Prevention

The open-appsec WAF uses four techniques to carry out advanced threat prevention. These include

  1. Behavioural-based detection: This method uses machine learning algorithms to analyse the behaviour of incoming traffic and identify patterns that indicate malicious activity.

  2. Reputation-based detection: This method uses information from external sources, such as IP reputation databases, to identify traffic from known malicious sources.

  3. Vulnerability-based detection: This method uses information about known vulnerabilities in web applications to identify and block attacks that exploit those vulnerabilities.

  4. Rate limiting: This method limits the number of requests a user or IP address can make to a web application in a given period to prevent DDoS attacks.

Try open-appsec in the Playground today.

Pros and Cons of open-appsec WAF



Stores your SSL certificate and private keys locally or in the public cloud to prevent them from being compromised.

Its free version has limited support options.

It is open-source, so it has a free version.

Beginners might find it complex to set up.

It can be modified to fit your web app's specific needs and address unique security requirements.

It can be integrated with other open-source tools and solutions like Kubernetes, ENVOY, NGINX, NGINX Express, etc.

Ensures easy and smooth maintenance due to the absence of rule and exception handling.


AWS WAF, Akamai WAF, and open-appsec WAF are all web application firewalls that can help protect your website or application from malicious traffic and attacks. Each WAF has its features, pricing, and capabilities, and the best option for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.

AWS WAF works best for users of Amazon Web Services. Akamai's Kona Rules, together with its WAAP, are effective against API attacks. open-appsec WAF is an open-source solution that allows for more flexibility and customisation. If you want to see how the absence of rules and exceptions allows the open-appsec WAF to protect against attacks that bypass other popular WAFs, try the product in our playground.


Does AWS WAF protect against XSS

Yes, the AWS web application firewall can protect against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. XSS attacks occur when an attacker injects malicious code into a web page viewed by other users and allows them to steal user data or perform actions on behalf of the user. To protect against this attack, the AWS WAF provides a set of predefined rules to detect and block XSS attacks and allows you to create custom rules.

How does Kona Site Defender work

Kona Site Defender is a web application firewall (WAF) service provided by Akamai Technologies to protect web applications and APIs from a wide range of cyber threats. It uses a set of predefined security policies to monitor incoming traffic and help protect against common web attacks. It can also detect and block bots attempting to scrape content or launch attacks against your web application, among other features.

What is the difference between AWS WAF and Shield?

AWS WAF and AWS Shield are both web application security services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, they have different purposes and capabilities. AWS WAF is a web application firewall (WAF) service that helps protect web applications from common web attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). AWS Shield, on the other hand, is a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that helps specifically protect web applications and APIs from DDoS attacks.

Is Akamai a CDN or a WAF?

Akamai is a provider of content delivery networks (CDN) and a web application firewall (WAF) provider. As a CDN provider, it provides a CDN service that speeds up the delivery of web content and applications by caching the content on servers that are geographically close to users. As a WAF provider, it uses the Kona Site Defender to protect web applications and APIs from a wide range of cyber threats, such as common web attacks, DDoS attacks, etc.


Experiment with open-appsec for Linux, Kubernetes or Kong using a free virtual lab

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