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Which Is the Best Web Application Firewall - NGINX App Protect vs. AWS WAF?


Don't know which web application firewall to choose between NGINX App Protect and AWS WAF? Settling for the best WAF can be a daunting task, especially if you are to compare the features and measure how they stack up against each other.


When choosing a security solution for your web app and API, you should always consider how it will integrate with your existing infrastructure, how reliable the WAF is, and what type of vulnerabilities it protects against.


This article compares NGINX App Protect and AWS WAF by examining how their features, like the ease of integration and the risks covered. Also, we will introduce a new security tool called open-appsec.


NGINX App Protect vs. AWS WAF vs. open-appsec


The comparison table below shows how each web app security solution compares regarding security, integration, management, code, and price.+

Property

AWS WAF

NGINX App Protect

open-appsec

Security

ML-based. No signature needed

No

No

Yes

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

No

No

Yes

API protection

Yes

Yes

Yes

OWASP TOP 10

Yes

Yes

Yes

Anti-bot

Yes (need integration with Amazon CloudFront)

Yes

Yes (premium feature)

Integration

NGINX, NGINX Ingress, Envoy Add-On

No

Yes

Yes

Kubernetes Ingress

No

Yes

Yes

Gateway VM for AWS, Azure, and VMWare

No

Yes

Enterprise version

Management

Declarative configuration and deployment

Yes

Yes

Yes

SaaS Web-based Event Management & Dashboards

Yes

Partial

Yes

Terraform

Yes

Yes

Yes

Code and Price

Free

No

Yes (30 days free trial)

Yes

Open-source

No

Yes

Yes

The information above shows that security-wise, NGINX App Protect and open-appsec have wider coverage than AWS WAF because they use machine learning to protect against zero-day attacks.


The three security tools protect against malicious bots (open-appsec premium version and AWS need integration with Amazon CloudFront) and OWASP Top 10.


Aside from that, open-appsec and NGINX App Protect offer integration with Kubernetes and NGINX. Regarding management, they can all be managed with a web-based UI and Terraform.


You can use App Protect free for 30 days, while open-appsec offers a free version that can be upgraded for more features. AWS WAF does not offer a free version.


NGINX App Protect Pros and Cons


These pros and cons are from reviews of people who have used NGINX App Protect to protect their web applications.

Pros

Cons

NGINX App Protect protects your applications and APIs on-premise, on the Kubernetes environment, and integrates with the NGINX platform.

No Zero-day pre-emptive protection as the solution is based on signatures.

It protects web apps and APIs against common and advanced attacks.

NGINX App Protect policies must be handled manually, and users must create them from scratch, which is time-consuming.

NGINX App Protect can be integrated with the CI/CD pipelines.

The dashboard doesn't provide a comprehensive view of the connection status.

It reduces false positives with automated behavior analysis.



NGINX App Protect is a modern app-sec solution that utilizes the power of F5 WAF to protect applications and APIs from known and unknown threats, securing code and customers' data. It seamlessly integrates with the DevOps CI/CD pipeline.


Some key benefits of using NGINX App Protect are

  • App protection.

  • Integration with modern application architecture.

  • Integration with the CI/CD pipelines.

  • Confidently run open-source code.

  • Centralized control.


With this security solution, your business can avoid regulatory non-compliance penalties, reducing loss of reputation and revenue while providing high-performance and scalable security.


Here are some of F5 NGINX App Protect features

  • App and API protection. App Protect safeguards applications and APIs from known and advanced attacks like cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and broken access control. Aside from that, businesses can protect their applications and keep them high-performance, leveraging controls from F5 WAF. You can deploy App Protect in your environment in blocking mode to detect threats with few false positives.

  • Low false positives. NGINX App Protect has automatic behavior analysis that helps reduce false positives.

  • Protect your application anywhere it is deployed. It supports modern app deployment topologies and reduces complexity and tool sprawl by offering seamless integration with the NGINX platform. This makes it easy for app-sec to build consistent app security controls for all their assets, like web apps, containers, microservices, and APIs.

  • Provides Layer 7 protection. Using automated behavior analysis, F5 NGINX App Protect safeguards apps and APIs against hard-to-detect DoS attacks like Slowloris, Slow POST, etc.

  • Rapid deployment. NGINX App Protect can easily automate security using the Open API endpoints and CI/CD tools. Aside from that, it uses a non-touch configuration method to make DoS security easy for modern applications. Businesses can deploy API or app security easily using declarative policies that facilitate security as a code.

  • Centralized control. It can be deployed in a self-service and app-centric manner because it offers visibility into the deployment process and uses policies from F5 advanced WAF. Aside from that, App Protect integrates controls with NGINX Plus and Ingress Controller.


AWS WAF Pros and Cons


These pros and cons are from reviews by people who have used AWS WAF.

Pros

Cons

AWS WAF Fraud Control and Account Takeover Prevention protect against brute-force login attempts, credential stuffing attacks, and other anomalous activities.

The price of AWS WAF is high if you use it for a single application.

It helps block common attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and malicious bots.

You can configure a limited number of rules with AWS WAF.

It can be fully administered via APIs.

AWS WAF does not protect web applications against DDoS attacks

AWS WAF lets you set rules to filter web traffic and block common web exploits like SQL injection and cross-site scripting.

No Zero-day pre-emptive protection as the solution is based on signatures.



AWS WAF protects websites and applications hosted on the AWS platform. It secures your web resources from attacks like SQL injection and cross-site scripting. Aside from that, users can configure it to block or limit traffic from specific users, locations, IP addresses, or request headers.


When the server receives requests for your web application, they are forwarded to AWS WAF, which inspects them against your rules. AWS WAF will allow or block the requests based on your security configuration.


With AWS WAF, businesses can protect resources like

  • Amazon CloudFront distribution,

  • Application Load Balancer,

  • Amazon Cognito User Pool,

  • Amazon API Gateway REST API,

  • AWS AppSync GraphQL API.


You can use AWS WAF on Amazon CloudFront if you want your rules to run in all AWS Edge locations or use it on regional services like Application Load Balancer, AWS AppSync, or API Gateway.


Bot Control gives you visibility over bot traffic that can affect your application, making it easy to block or control pervasive bots like scanners, crawlers, and scrapers while allowing common ones like search engine crawlers. To protect your web app, you can use the Bot Control managed rule alongside other rules for WAF or with your own rules.


AWS WAF has two ways of seeing how your web application is being protected - one-minute metrics and Sampled Web Requests. They will let you see which requests were blocked, counted, or allowed.


The features of AWS WAF are listed below.

  • Bot control. It comes with a managed rule group that gives visibility over bot traffic that consumes excess resources, causes downtime, skews metrics, and prevents your users from accessing your website. You can block bots with a few clicks.

  • Web traffic filtering. Users can make rules to filter traffic by IP addresses, custom URLs, or HTTP headers and body. Web traffic filtering protects your website from attacks aimed at exploiting vulnerabilities in your resources or third-party code. This makes it easy to prevent SQL injection and cross-site scripting.

  • One rule for several applications. With AWS WAF, you can set rules that can be deployed across several websites. If you have many web applications, you can create a single rule set that can be reused across them instead of recreating the same rule on every application.

  • Easy integration. AWS WAF integrates with Firewall Manager, CloudFront, and Application Load Balancer. This will ensure that you comply with security rules as new resources are added.


While there are no upfront charges when you use AWS WAF, the pricing is based on the number of web access control lists created, the number of rules per web ACL, and the number of web requests received.


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.

Pros

Cons

Automatically detect and block threats with its machine learning engine.

It is a new web application security tool.

Prevent zero-day attacks while ensuring that your data is safe.

Because it is new, it has a small community of users.

Secure websites and apps from common and unknown threats.

You can find much information about open-appsec on the internet.

Has a playground that makes it easy for you to use it.


.open-appsec is a WAF that automatically secures web apps and APIs because of its machine learning-based threat detection and prevention model. As a security tool, open-appsec protects your assets from common and unknown attacks like zero-day and the OWASP Top 10 category.


This is possible because it constantly analyzes HTTP/S requests coming to your website, monitoring the requests patterns and automatically detecting and deterring bad requests. open-appsec, unlike most WAFs, does this with zero signature upkeep.


You can deploy open-appsec on Kubernetes Ingress, Envoy, API Gateways, and NGINX.


Kubernetes

Web applications and APIs running on the Kubernetes environment can deploy and use open-appsec to protect against attacks. You can deploy it with interactive CLI tools or the K8 custom resource.


Web UI

Another way to start with open-appsec is by using the web UI. It comes with a cloud-hosted management tool where you can handle and configure policies using a graphical dashboard. Also, you can manage multiple deployments using the Kubernetes declarative configuration.


NGINX

You can start using open-appsec by deploying it as an add-on to NGINX to secure web applications and APIs running on the NGINX Reverse Proxy.


open-appsec Playground


Depending on the environment you are running your web app, you can choose between Kubernetes or NGINX playgrounds. The playgrounds feature a demo web application with vulnerabilities and teach you how to


  • use open-appsec to protect your website or applications served by the Kubernetes or NGINX environment,

  • Attack the website by injecting code (SQL injection),

  • Deploy open-appsec to secure the website,

  • Attack the website again to make sure it is secure,

  • Link your asset to the SaaS Web-Based management.


Features of open-appsec

  • Free and open-source. open-appsec has a free version that provides security for your website. Also, the code is open-source and available on GitHub.

  • Easy to manage. open-appsec is easy to manage because it doesn't require signature upkeep, and it comes with an Enterprise Grade SaaS Web UI, GraphQL API, and Infrastructure as Code using Terraform.

  • Protect against threats. With its machine learning engine, it preemptively prevents attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, broken access control, etc. Also, it prevents zero-day attacks like Log4Shell, Spring4Shell, and Text4Shell.

  • Secure APIs. Attackers target APIs because they enable access to sensitive data and may have vulnerabilities like broken authorization and authentication, rate limiting, and code injection. open-appsec automatically blocks the malicious use and abuse of your APIs once deployed.

  • Uses machine learning. open-appsec uses machine learning to stop layer attacks and prevent unauthorized access to your server. Aside from that, it prevents DDoS attacks that attempt to skew your traffic and prevent your website from delivering content to real users.

  • Block bad bots. Attackers use bots to attack web applications. Such attacks, like brute force attacks, spam, malware injection, etc., result from bad bots. With its premium version, open-appsec detects and blocks bot attacks.


Conclusion


NGINX App Protect vs. AWS WAF, which is the best web application firewall?


Choose NGINX App Protect if you want a web application firewall that protects against known and unknown attacks and integrates with modern application architecture. F5 NGINX App Protect provides layer 7 protection and secures apps and APIs anywhere they are deployed.


If you host your website and app on the AWS platform, AWS WAF is the right option. AWS WAF filters web traffic, provides bots control, blocks attacks in the OWASP Top 10 category, and is easy to manage.


You can choose open-appsec if you want a WAF that integrates with the modern environment while providing security against known and unknown threats. open-appsec is easy to configure and manage and uses machine learning to detect threats.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Is AWS WAF and How Does It Work?


AWS WAF is a web application firewall that allows you to monitor the requests (HTTPS) forwarded to your web resources. With AWS WAF, users can protect different types of resources hosted on the AWS platform.


What Does AWS WAF Protect Against?


AWS WAF secures your web resources from common web exploits like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, etc., and bots that can compromise the security of your web application.


What Is NGINX App Protect?


This modern application security tool works seamlessly in a DevOps environment as a WAF or app-level DoS defense. With NGINX App Protect, you can deliver secure apps from code to customer.


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