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AWS Shield vs AWS WAF vs. open-appsec, Which Should I Choose?

Let’s be frank, choosing a security solution that is tailored to your website or application needs is challenging. With so many options to choose from, how can you find a solution that will meet your requirements, provide a high level of protection, not break your budget and offer all the right features?

The stakes are extremely high. If you make the wrong choice, you risk losing time and money, putting your users in danger, and tarnishing your company’s reputation for good.

This is why we decided to compare AWS WAF and AWS Shield, two of the most popular security solutions, in this article. And as a bonus, we also tell you about a new open-source tool called open-appsec, which can be an even better choice for many.

AWS WAF vs Shield vs open-appsec Features


AWS Shield




ML-based WAF. No signature needed




Zero-day protection (Text4Shell, Log4Shell, Spring4Shell, etc.)




API protection










Yes (need integration with Amazon CloudFront)

Yes (premium feature)






NGINX, NGINX Ingress, Envoy Add-On




Kubernetes Ingress




Gateway VM for AWS, Azure, and VMWare



Enterprise version


Declarative configuration and deployment




SaaS Web-based Event Management & Dashboards








Code and Price


Yes (standard version)







We know that you came to this page to compare AWS Shield and AWS WAF, but before we get to it, we want to introduce you to another tool that can be an even better solution!

open-appsec is an open-source web application and API security solution that helps stop application layer attacks like OWASP Top 10 and zero-day attacks like Spring4shell and Log4shell.

It uses machine learning to provide enterprise-level web application and API security with visibility, protection, and easy management needed by modern workloads.

What sets it apart from tools like AWS Shield and AWS WAF is that it provides pre-emptive protection against zero day attacks using machine learning, it is open-source and integrates with NGINX, Kubernetes, and Envoy. Also, open-appsec is easy to configure and manage.

It features cloud-native CI/CD-friendly deployment from installation to configuration, using declarative APIs or infrastructure-as-code. Now let’s consider the pros and cons of the three security solutions.

AWS WAF Pros and Cons



Filter your site traffic to prevent malicious attacks.

Signature-based, not pre-emptive to Zero-Day attacks

It can be easily administered using APIs.

Requires manual tuning of signatures

Full integration with AWS Firewall Manager.

Premium signatures cost extra

Account takeover fraud prevention.

Logging cost extra

Provides basic rate limiting features

AWS WAF is a firewall for web applications that allow businesses to monitor the HTTP(S) request made to their website or application.

This web application firewall lets you control how your content is accessed based on specified criteria like web requests from specific IP addresses.

Also, you can define a web access control list and associate it with the web app resource you want to protect.

Here are some of the features offered by AWS WAF:

  • Web traffic filtering. Create rules that help you filter your site traffic using IP addresses, custom URLs, HTTP headers and body, etc., giving you an added layer of protection from attacks.

  • AWS WAF bot control. This feature gives you visibility and control over pervasive bot traffic that can take excess resources, cause downtime, skew metrics, etc. Blocking bots such as scrappers, crawlers, or scanners is easy with just a few clicks.

  • Full feature API. Users can easily administer AWS WAF via APIs. This makes it easy for organizations to create and maintain rules automatically and integrate them into the development stage.

  • Integration with AWS Firewall Manager. You can set up and manage it across several AWS accounts using Firewall Manager, which automatically audits and informs your team where there is a policy violation to take action.

AWS Shield Pros and Cons



Volumetric DDoS protection is free

Expensive to use. The monthly cost for AWS Shield Advanced starts at $3000 plus cost of traffic

Highly scalable

Minimum one-year commitment for the advanced plan.

Backup by AWS response team

AWS Shield is a managed, multi-layered service that provides continuous threat detection and automatic inline mitigation to reduce application downtime and latency due to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

It has two tiers: standard and advanced. AWS Shield Standard is free and ships with your package at no extra cost. It provides threat detection for infrastructure Layer 3 and 4 attacks, which include fragmented packet attacks, SYN/UDP floods, and other volumetric attacks.

Shield Advanced is a paid service that includes all the attributes of Standard and additional features to safeguard against complex DDoS attacks.

Here are some of the features offered by AWS Shield:

  • Free for standard features. You get AWS Shield Standard free of extra cost when you build your application with AWS.

  • Easy setup. Unlike AWS WAF, AWS Shield is easy to set up because you don't have to activate it yourself. To use the AWS Shield Advanced option, you need to configure it with a few clicks.

  • More advanced features. With an extra cost attached, you can choose AWS Shield Advanced for added protection. This service uses machine learning to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks before they can adversely affect your web app.

  • Visibility and attack notification. AWS Shield Advanced gives users complete visibility into DDoS attacks with notifications through Amazon CloudWatch.

open-appsec Pros and Cons

open-appsec Pros

open-appsec Cons

Open-source, free-version, and easy to configure and manage.

It is a relatively new product compared to AWS WAF and Shield.

Machine learning threat prevention helps prevent OWASP TOP 10 with very low amount of false positives.

It has a smaller community of users.

Prevent Zero-day attacks such as Log4shell and Spring4Shell.

There isn’t a lot of information about the product on the internet.

Protect your web application from bot attacks and prevent theft or loss of data.

Integrate into modern environments like public cloud, Kubernetes, NGINX, and Linux Servers.

open-appsec is a security tool that is easy to configure and maintain. It uses machine learning to provide automatic web application and API threat protection and safeguards your application from OWASP Top 10 and zero-day attacks like Log4Shell, Text4Shell, and Spring4Shell.

Here are some open-appsec features that make it a better option to protect your web application from malicious attacks.

Features of open-appsec

  • Provides ML Threat Prevention

open-appsec uses two machine learning models to provide ML-based threat protection, which allows it to prevent attacks like SQL Injection, broken authentication, etc., with minimal tuning and no false positives.

  • Provides API Security

The premium version of this tool stops malicious access and abuse of your API, enforcing API schema. Also, it helps you keep track of your API usage and limit your attack surface to keep activities within safe limits through malicious content blocking and OpenAPI schema validation.

  • Bot Prevention

Both the premium and the enterprise versions helps to identify and stop automated bot attacks and prevent the theft of your customers' data.

  • Intrusion Prevention

It provides a full IPS Engine that supports custom Snort 3.0 signatures and protection for over 2,800 WEB CVEs.

  • Automation and API

GraphQL API and Infrastructure-as-code are two open-appsec automation methods that allow you to Create, Read, Update or Delete objects.

  1. GraphQL API allows you to Authenticate, Create, Read, Update or Delete and Publish changes within the system.

  2. open-appsec Terraform allows the configuration of all platform aspects using HCL infrastructure as code.

  • open-appsec for Kubernetes

open-appsec for Kubernetes safeguards applications and APIs that run in the Kubernetes environment. Also, it integrates with NGINX Ingress Controller to provide a secure HTTP/S load balancer for one or more services inside the Kubernetes clusters. Aside from that, you can deploy it as an add-on for NGINX to protect any web and APIs served by the NGINX web server.

  • Provides Enterprise-Grade SaaS Management

It provides enterprise-level Software as a Service (SaaS) management for assets, graphical dashboards, cloud logging, and event analysis with the ability to manage several deployments in a scalable way.

  • Integration

open-appsec integrates into modern environments like public cloud storage, Kubernetes, and CI/CD workflows that support Kubernetes Ingress, Linux Servers, and Docker.

  • Easy Management

Unlike many WAFs, open-appsec makes maintaining your web application and APIs security easy because there is no threat signature upkeep and exceptional handling.

  • open-appsec Playground

The playground uses a demo web application with several security vulnerabilities. You can play around the playground and learn how to protect the web application by adding open-appsec, an ML security engine, to an NGINX reverse proxy/web server or Kubernetes Ingress.

The Playground will teach how to:

  • Attack the web application by performing a simple attack (SQL Injection),

  • How to deploy NGINX as a reverse proxy or Kubernetes Ingress to protect the application,

  • Attack the web app again to confirm that security is effective,

  • Connect your deployment to the SaaS Web-Based Management.


When choosing the best security tool for your website or application, consider your needs and requirements. If you want to protect your application against common threats, you can use AWS WAF. AWS WAF filters your website traffic to detect and prevent malicious attacks. Also, you can prevent access to bots, such as scrappers or scanners.

You should consider AWS Shield Advanced if your website or application is prone to more sophisticated DDoS attacks. Shield Advanced is easy to set up and uses machine learning to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks.

If you want an open-source security solution that detects threats using machine learning and is easy to configure and deploy, you can choose open-appsec. Also, open-appsec integrates seamlessly with Kubernetes Ingress, NGINX, Envoy, and API Gateways. Try our product in the playground today and see its benefits for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions


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

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