AWS WAF or AWS Network Firewall? Answering this question can be one of the toughest decisions for a system administrator, DevOpsSec, or IT professional.
To be security compliant, you must secure your web app and system and keep your customers' data safe. That is why you need a security product that meets your needs.
The fact remains the same; both are great security tools but have different use cases. So, which should I choose between AWS WAF and Network Firewall?
This article will compare the features of AWS WAF and AWS Network Firewall. Also, we will introduce a new security tool called open-appsec.
AWS WAF vs. Network Firewall vs. open-appsec
The table below gives you a quick overview of the features of AWS WAF, Network Firewall, and open-appsec. Notice how open-appsec ticks yes to all the options.
AWS Network Firewall
ML-based. No signature needed
Zero-day protection (Text4Shell, Log4Shell, Spring4Shell, etc.)
OWASP TOP 10
Yes (need integration with Amazon CloudFront)
Yes (premium feature)
NGINX, NGINX Ingress, Envoy Add-On
Gateway VM for AWS, Azure, and VMWare
Declarative configuration and deployment
SaaS Web-based Event Management & Dashboards
Code and Price
AWS Network Firewall Pros and Cons
These are the reviews by people who have used AWS Network Firewall.
AWS Network Firewall filters inbound and outbound network traffic to detect and block malicious content.
Not a WAF
It has an intrusion prevention system that protects against brute force attacks and vulnerability exploits.
AWS Network Firewall pricing is a bit higher, given for a startup.
AWS Network Firewall enables you to scale your firewall capacity based on the traffic load automatically.
It is limited to the AWS platform and doesn't offer security policies across an organization's entire IT environment.
AWS Network Firewall signature-based detection doesn't protect against new and zero-day threats.
AWS Network Firewall is a managed virtual firewall designed to protect AWS Virtual Private Cloud from network threats. It is a network security system that controls and monitors incoming and outgoing traffic, making it easy for users to deploy network protection for their AWS VPC.
Using signature-based detection, Network Firewall protects your network from common threats and inspects inbound and outbound traffic to identify and block vulnerability exploits.
You can configure AWS Network Firewall with a few clicks, and it will scale automatically with your network traffic, so you don't have to worry about managing any infrastructure.
Also, it can be integrated with Firewall Manager to build policies based on Network Firewall rules and then apply those policies across your Virtual Private Cloud.
Here are some of AWS Network Firewall features:
Web filtering. It supports incoming and outgoing traffic filtering for unencrypted web traffic. Also, it uses Server Name Indication (SNI) to block access to encrypted web traffic.
Intrusion prevention. AWS Network Firewall's intrusion prevention system (IPS) inspects traffic and provides real-time network and application layer protection against brute force attacks and vulnerabilities.
Outbound traffic filtering. It provides traffic filtering by IP address and URL/domain to prevent data loss and block malware. Also, you can set rules to block network traffic from malicious IP addresses.
Highly scalable. AWS Network Firewall has in-built redundancies that help ensure continuous protection against network threats. With a 99.9% uptime commitment, Network Firewall ensures your resources stay protected at all times.
AWS WAF Pros and Cons
These are the reviews by people who have used AWS WAF.
AWS WAF helps filter web traffic and block bad requests.
No pre-emptive zero-day protection as it uses signatures
It integrates with other AWS services like Firewall Manager, CloudFront, etc.
It can be pricey if used with a single application.
It provides real-time metrics that help you monitor your security.
Beginners will find it hard to configure it.
AWS WAF blocks common attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and malicious bots.
AWS WAF has a limitation on the number of rules you can set.
AWS WAF is a security service that protects web applications from attacks by filtering, monitoring, and blocking malicious HTTP/S traffic. You can set conditions like IP addresses, HTTP headers, body, URL strings, and SQL injection to filter and block requests.
It protects your web app by forwarding requests received for inspection against your rules. Once the request meets the conditions you defined in your rules, AWS WAF will block or allow it based on the action you define.
Here are some AWS WAF features:
Filter web traffic. You can set rules to filter traffic based on certain conditions like IP addresses, HTTP headers, and SQL injection. It will give your application more protection against attacks that seek to exploit system vulnerability.
Full API administration. AWS WAF makes it easy to create, deploy and maintain rules using API. It will greatly speed up the security process, making it possible to set up the security of your resources in less time. Also, rules created can be incorporated into the development process.
Provides real-time visibility. AWS WAF lets you view real-time metrics and requests made to your resources. Also, it provides details of URLs, IP addresses, and geolocation.
Easily integrate with other AWS services. You can integrate or link AWS WAF with Firewall Manager to help you set and manage rules across multiple accounts. It makes it easy to add rules as new accounts are created automatically.
Do you need a WAF if you already have a Network Firewall?
Since AWS WAF cannot protect against network-layer attacks, it is a good idea always to have a WAF and a Firewall in your environment to protect your system because they serve different purposes.
AWS WAF, like other WAFs, works at the application layer 7 in the OSI model and intercepts data but cannot monitor and filter data at lower levels. Network firewalls operate at layers 3 and 4 and work with low-level protocols.
Combining security systems for better protection is always a good idea.
open-appsec Pros and Cons
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.
Preemptively protect web and API resources from common attacks and CVEs.
It is a new security tool.
Detect and block zero-day attacks to ensure the safety of your web resources.
Not much is known about it on the internet.
It is free and open-source.
open-appsec has a small user community.
Configuring and managing open-appsec is easy.
open-appsec is a machine learning-based security solution for web applications and APIs that detect and deter attacks automatically with no threat signature upkeep required. This security tool gives you the visibility, protection, and ease of management required by the modern agile environment.
It provides two security practices: Detect/Learn mode and Prevent mode to protect your web and API resources. The practices use several security engines to analyze HTTP web requests and determine if they are malicious. Also, open-appsec safeguards applications and APIs against unknown attacks, validate API inputs and prevents common attacks and CVEs.
open-appsec shine because it can preemptively and automatically safeguard your web resources from attacks like OWASP Top 10, zero-day attacks, and malicious bots. By default, it blocks attacks like Log4Shell, Spring4Shell, and Text4Shell without needing to update or further adjust.
Unlike most WAFs, open-appsec is free to use and has no limit on the number of traffic it analyzes. Also, it is open-source, making it easy for developers, AppSecEngineers, and DevOpsSec to use and expand the code.
Most WAFs are difficult to configure and deploy but not open-appsec. You can effortlessly deploy it to Kubernetes Ingress, NGINX, Envoy, and API Gateways. Aside from that, you can easily manage open-appsec because it doesn't require signature upkeep and constant updates. That is why it is described as an 'install and forget' security solution for web apps and API.
It is available for free on GitHub and has no limit on the number of traffic it analyzes. You can also get premium support and features like anti-bot and log storage in the cloud.
You can get familiar with the playground and learn how to use it to detect and prevent an attack. Two playground options are available - Kubernetes and NGINX.
You can use the Kubernetes or NGINX playground to learn how to:
Do a simple SQL injection to attack the demo web application.
Deploy open-appsec on NGINX or Kubernetes, depending on your project.
Attack the web app again to ensure the security is implemented and effective.
Connect to the SaaS Web-Based Management.
The features of open-appsec include zero-day protection, Kubernetes and NGINX integration, API security, ML threat prevention, and open-source.
1. Easy to Maintain
open-appsec simplifies maintenance because it does not require constant updates or threat signature upkeep like other web application firewalls. It is an ‘install and forget’ solution for your web resources protection.
2. Prevent Zero-Day Attacks
It uses an ML-based threat detection to block zero-day attacks before they infiltrate your system and deter losses of your customers' data.
3. Integration with NGINX and Kubernetes
open-appsec can be integrated as an add-on to Kubernetes, NGINX, Envoy, and API Gateways. Also, you can integrate it with modern environments like cloud storage.
4. Protect Your Resources from Bad Bots
It has a web application behavioral anti-bot that analyzes traffic to detect bad bots that skew analytics and slow down your web or API performance.
5. Machine Learning Based Security
open-appsec uses machine learning to preemptively detect and block threats from common web application vulnerabilities like OWASP Top 10 and prevent zero-day attacks.
6. Free and Open-Source
Traffic analysis has no limit with the free version, which means you can use open-appsec to safeguard your web app or API. The premium version is available if you want advanced protection from bad bots. Aside from that, open-appsec is open-source, and the code is available on GitHub.
7. Prevent Intrusion of Your Network
open-appsec safeguards your web resources from over 2,800 WEB CVEs and monitors your network traffic for suspicious activities.
AWS Network Firewall vs. WAF vs. open-appsec - which security solution should I choose?
AWS Network Firewall is the best option if you want a security tool to protect your organization's network. It provides extra features, including application protocol detection, deep packet inspection, and domain name filtering to identify and block vulnerability exploits.
AWS WAF is the right solution if you want a web application firewall to protect your website and API on the AWS platform. With AWS WAF, you can filter web traffic and block bad requests and common attacks like SQL injection and cross-site scripting.
Combining AWS WAF and AWS Network Firewall is a good idea if you want to simultaneously protect your system’s network and web application.
If you want an 'install and forget' security that doesn't require signature upkeep and exceptional handling, you can choose open-appsec. This security tool is open-source, free, and offers ML-based threat detection to protect against zero-day attacks, OWASP TOP 10, and bad bots and secure your web application and APIs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between a WAF and a Network Firewall?
A web application firewall (WAF) protects websites and APIs against attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, broken authentication, and zero-day attacks. A network firewall protects against attacks by inspecting and blocking malicious network traffic.
What Is the Difference Between AWS Network Firewall and WAF?
AWS Network Firewall is a service that offers deep package inspection, domain name filtering, application protocol detection, and intrusion prevention system. AWS WAF is a security solution that protects web applications from SQL injection, cross-site scripting, malicious requests, and bad bots.