Top Akamai WAF Alternatives in 2023

Posted DateAugust 4, 2023
Posted Time 12   min Read

As one of the pioneering WAF products, Akamai remains a crucial player in the modern WAAP landscape. Akamai was among the earliest CDNs introduced and continues to dominate content delivery.

Its excellence is further validated by being rated a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Web Application and API Protection in 2022.

Combining various security technologies, including web application firewall, bot mitigation, API security, and DDoS protection, Akamai’s App & API Protector offers a comprehensive single solution.

Top Akamai WAF Features and Benefits

Adaptive Threat Intelligence

Akamai’s world-class security researchers employ advanced machine learning and data mining techniques to continually analyse over 303 TB of daily attack data.

This proactive approach allows them to automatically update protections, ensuring your system remains secure against the latest threats.


Prolexic, the cloud-based DDoS protection platform by Akamai, is an effective shield against potential attacks. It acts pre-emptively before they reach applications, data centers, or internet-facing infrastructure.

The platform offers proactive mitigation overseen by Akamai’s 24/7 global SOCC, providing customers with an unparalleled 100% uptime SLA.

Operating from well-placed high-capacity scrubbing centers in 32 metro locations worldwide, Prolexic neutralizes attacks closer to their origin, optimizing user performance.

Edge DNS 

Akamai, a prominent market leader in DNS, boasts an impressive track record of efficiently handling high traffic volumes and fending off attacks.

Their cutting-edge cloud-based DNS solution ensures uninterrupted DNS availability, accelerated responsiveness, and robust defence against the most massive DDoS attacks.

Page Integrity Manager

As modern websites rely on many third-party sources running scripts directly in user browsers, security teams often face challenges monitoring and controlling these external scripts.

Page Integrity Manager, Akamai’s in-browser cybersecurity product, addresses this issue by providing real-time detection of suspicious script activity. The solution employs artificial intelligence to detect malevolent attempts at data theft through first or third-party scripts embedded in websites.

Deploying Page Integrity Manager is a rapid process that takes minutes, initiating an instant analysis of script executions.

API Security

What sets it apart? Akamai’s App & API Protector performs automatic inspection of all API requests, even without registration, delivering robust API security instantly upon deployment.

With the added advantage of API Discovery, security teams receive alerts regarding newly connected APIs, ensuring enhanced protection.

Based on a scoring mechanism considering response content type, path characteristics, and traffic patterns, Akamai App & API Protector continually discovers APIs, providing exceptional security.

Managed Service

Akamai’s Managed Security Service offers a tailored security strategy aligned with your business needs, incorporating industry expertise and best practices.

Comprehensive Akamai Managed Security Service covers:

  • Detailed incident response reports after security incidents provide full visibility into attack behaviours and response actions
  • Attack-ready audits fortifies security measures
  • Security solution tuning recommendations for enhanced protection
  • Monthly summary reports provide unmatched insights into the global threat landscape and its impact on your business

Reasons Why You Might Need to Switch from Akamai WAF

Unmetered DDoS protection is an add-on

The primary advantage of choosing the “Always-On” deployment method is its potential for a quick response to DDoS attacks without the delays of traffic rerouting.

On the other hand, this convenience may come at a higher cost in Akamai WAF, as all incoming traffic, not just attack traffic, undergoes scrubbing.

AppTrana offers unmetered DDoS on all plans. You will only be billed for clean traffic, regardless of the volume of DDoS attacks that AppTrana successfully blocks.


The platform is likely on the expensive side. Akamai is known for its enterprise-level product and premium features, which reflect their exceptional performance and availability, making them a worthy investment, especially with managed services.

However, it can be costly for organizations with limited resources and size.

Payload inspection size

Akamai’s WAF has limitations when inspecting very large web request content. It imposes a maximum payload size of 128 KB, with the default configuration set at just 8 KB. Customers who require a larger request body than the threshold must adjust the configuration accordingly.

False positives

Handling false positives can be equally challenging with Akamai, like other leading WAAP providers.

WAF may also block legitimate users, demanding manual investigation akin to real vulnerabilities. These challenges are especially notable if your organization lacks certified in-house security engineers or hasn’t opted for the managed services add-on.

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Fifteen Akamai WAF Alternatives to Consider

A snapshot comparison of the top 5 alternatives


WAF Feature Akamai AppTrana AWS WAF Cloudflare Fastly Imperva
Gartner Peer Insights Rating 4.7 4.9 4.4 4.5 4.9 4.7
Gartner Peer Insights Customer Recommendation Rating 88% 100% 90% 93% 97% 92%
DDoS Monitoring Add-On Starts at $399 $3000 per month Enterprise Only Ultimate Plan only Add-On
Virtual Patching Add-On Starts at $99 Self-service Ultimate Plan only Add-On
Payload Inspection Size Starts: 8KB

Max: 128KB

134MB 64KB 128KB Unknown Unknown
NTLM Support No Yes No No Unknown Unknown
Bot Protection Add-On Yes Basic Yes Yes, but unsure whether it is bundled in all plans Not available in essentials

Add-on in Professional

Bundled in Enterprise Plan

Response Timeout Default: 120 seconds


Max: 599 seconds

Default: 300 seconds


Max: 300 seconds

Default: 30 seconds


Max: 300 seconds

Default: 100 seconds
Enterprise: 6000 seconds
Default: 60 seconds


Max: 300 Seconds

Default: 360 seconds

Max: Unknown

Managed Services Add-On Starts at $399 Only through SI partnerships Enterprise only Ultimate Plan only Add-On
DAST Scanner Not Available Bundled in all plans Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Asset Discovery Not Available Bundled in all plans Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Penetration Testing Not Available Bundled in the $399 plan Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
API discovery Available Available Not Available Available Available Available as an Add-On
API Security Available Available Basic capabilities through API Gateway Available Available Available
API Scanning Not Available Bundled in the $399 plan Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
API Pen Testing Not Available Bundled in the $399 plan Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Workflow-based bot mitigation Add-On Starts at $399 Only through SI partnerships Enterprise only Ultimate Plan only Add-On
Origin Protection Add-On Bundled in all plans Available Limited Add-on Not Available


The Top Five Alternatives to Akamai WAF: In-Depth Comparison


Among all the Akamai WAF alternatives, AppTrana stands out as the most cost-effective while providing features equivalent to Akamai WAF offerings. Additionally, with the support of a DAST scanner and penetration testers, false positives are nearly zero.

AppTrana is the only WAAP vendor openly discussing and committing to the following:

  • 100% applications onboarded in block mode
  • ZERO false positive guarantee
  • Virtually patching  critical vulnerabilities within 24 hours

Let’s explore the advantages of using AppTrana:

Request Inspection Size

Regarding request body inspection, AppTrana outshines Akamai with its capacity to handle very large requests. AppTrana handles requests up to 134 MB, while Akamai’s capabilities are more restricted, starting at 8 KB and reaching a maximum of 128 KB.

Bundled DAST and Pen Testing

AppTrana offers a unique solution where using DAST scanner alongside WAF ensures that vulnerabilities are promptly identified, addressed, and resolved.

The dashboard provides a clear overview of protected vulnerabilities through core rules and identifies those needing custom rules (virtual patches).

Requesting a custom rule is just a simple 1-click process, and critical vulnerabilities receive custom rule creation within 24 hours, supported by the managed services team acting as an extended SOC team to verify false positives.

AppTrana’s Premium plan also offers the valuable feature of manual pen testing for applications. This service aids in uncovering business logic errors and critical vulnerabilities.

Managed Security Service

Leveraging third-party threat intelligence and ongoing security research, the Indusface team possesses profound insights into attackers. Their experienced pen testers contribute firsthand knowledge to the process.

The team excels in executing and fine-tuning scans, validating and prioritizing vulnerability results, and generating actionable reports with zero false positives.

Moreover, even customers on the $99 plan can rely on AppTrana for round-the-clock phone, email, and chat support during attacks.

Block mode ensures real protection

AppTrana WAF’s remarkable advantage lies in its “Real” protection, where all applications are onboarded in block mode, ensuring enhanced security.

Unlike other WAFs that often operate in log mode to avoid false positives and potential application issues, AppTrana’s solution engineering team diligently oversees deployment to prevent such occurrences.

Asset Discovery

The asset discovery feature is bundled in all plans, ensuring that users can take full advantage of this powerful capability regardless of their subscription level.

This feature provides a comprehensive view of your public-facing web assets such as domains, subdomains, IPs, mobile apps, data centers, and site types. You can assess the resilience of these assets to potential attacks and gauge their exposure.

Additionally, it allows users to keep their asset inventory current by offering real-time options to add, modify, or remove asset information.

Now, let’s consider what could have been better in AppTrana:

Legacy APIs

AppTrana WAAP does not extend support to legacy API formats like SOAP for API security. It focuses on modern API security needs while excluding compatibility with outdated protocols.

Threat intelligence

AppTrana places a strong emphasis on leveraging third-party feeds for threat intelligence. Although the in-house threat intelligence might not cover as much ground as larger competitors, incorporating third-party feeds effectively covers a wide range of potential threats.


Amazon Web Services (AWS) stands at the forefront of hyper-scale cloud computing platforms, providing the most comprehensive and enterprise-ready service offerings.

Amazon provides AWS WAF, AWS Firewall Manager, and AWS Shield as part of its cloud security services.

Discover some of the benefits of choosing AWS WAF as an Akamai alternative:

Easy maintenance

When your infrastructure is hosted on AWS, selecting AWS WAF ensures a streamlined setup, procurement, access, and payment management process.

If your applications are distributed across multi-cloud, on-premise, or hybrid environments, the suitable choice would be a platform-agnostic WAF such as AppTrana.

Flexibility in deploying security rules

The AWS WAF is equipped with ready-to-use, built-in managed rules and a wide selection of rulesets available on AWS Marketplace.

Renowned providers such as Fortinet, F5, and others offer AWS-specific rulesets that provide added protection compared to AWS’ default rules.

Accessing these rulesets entails a minimal subscription fee, with additional billing based on the inspected traffic.

On the other hand, there are some cons to using AWS WAF:


AWS WAF is similar to Akamai WAF in being considered a higher-priced option than other WAF solutions.

The pricing for AWS WAF is usage-based, with charges based on the AWS WAF Web ACL capacity units (WCU), a common approach in AWS.

For smaller deployments, the usual monthly cost hovers around $30. Nevertheless, customers with extensive web presence might encounter substantially higher bills, driven by the requirement for more web ACLs and rules to achieve the desired granularity.

API Security

AWS offers limited API security options, primarily providing basic rate-limiting capabilities through the API gateway. Unfortunately, more advanced features like API discovery are currently unavailable.

 AWS Shield is expensive

AWS Shield is a managed service providing DDoS protection for applications running on AWS.

AWS Shield Standard comes automatically with AWS accounts without any additional charges. On the other hand, AWS Shield Advanced is available at an extra cost, with a 1-year minimum commitment and a monthly fee of 3000 USD.

AWS WAF may not be the ideal choice if you seek Akamai WAF alternatives primarily for DDoS protection and managed service. In such case, you can check AWS WAF alternatives.

Cloudflare and AppTrana offer unmetered DDoS protection at a significantly lower cost, making them more cost-effective options.


Renowned for its CDN and DDoS mitigation ability, Cloudflare is a reliable choice for speeding up and safeguarding numerous websites, APIs, SaaS services, and other internet properties.

Cloudflare utilizes cutting-edge technologies, such as machine learning algorithms and threat intelligence, to instantly identify and counteract security threats.

Here are some of the advantages of using Cloudflare WAF:

Actionable threat intelligence

Cloudflare’s extensive services cover nearly 20% of websites online, catering to millions of Internet properties and customers across more than 270 cities through their global network.

Cloudflare’s exclusive protection of the world’s websites gives them access to an exceptional volume of global data, enabling them to convert it into actionable threat intelligence.

DDoS Mitigation

Cloudflare’s vast global Anycast network boasts an exceptional capacity surpassing 197 Tbps, well beyond the scale of the largest DDoS attacks ever registered. This immense capacity equips all internet assets on Cloudflare’s network to effectively withstand the most massive modern DDoS attacks.

Like AppTrana WAAP, Cloudflare’s adaptive DDoS protection intelligently learns and adjusts to your distinct traffic patterns without compromising performance.

Cloudflare provides unmetered enterprise-grade DDoS protection at a flat monthly rate.

However, access to round-the-clock global email and emergency phone support is available only to Enterprise customers.

Powerful Bundle for SaaS Start-Ups

Cloudflare for SaaS offers a comprehensive range of security solutions featuring advanced Bot Mitigation, WAF rules, analytics, DDoS mitigation, and more. These solutions enable SaaS providers to deliver high-speed and highly secure applications.

The Free, Pro, and Business plans offer flexible pricing that highly benefits start-ups and scale-ups, as the upgrades can seamlessly adapt to their business expansion.

Furthermore, larger SaaS providers count on the premium features of the Enterprise plan, such as Enterprise level support, multi-user accounts, SSO, and other privileges not available in non-Enterprise plans.

It’s important to be aware of the limitation of Cloudflare WAF:

Request inspection size

Similar to Akamai WAF, Cloudflare WAF also imposes a limitation on the size of the scanned payload. For the free, pro, and business plans, the maximum request size that can be inspected is 128 KB.

This limitation leaves room for attackers to potentially bypass WAF checks by placing malicious code further into the request body.

Response time out

Cloudflare sets a typical waiting time of 100 seconds for an HTTP response. If the origin fails to respond within this period, Cloudflare terminates the connection, resulting in an “Error 524: A timeout occurred.” For extended timeouts, a subscription to the enterprise plan is necessary.

False Positives

While Cloudflare boasts world-class threat intelligence, it also grapples with generating generic rules for its many applications across the network, which can result in false positives.

Concerns about blocking legitimate users due to false positives lead to deploying WAF in log-only mode.

AppTrana and Imperva are compelling choices as Cloudflare alternatives, especially if zero false positives are a priority.


Powered by Signal Sciences, Fastly’s Next-Gen WAF functions as a dynamic web application firewall, actively monitoring web traffic for signs of suspicious or irregular behaviour. It safeguards against targeted attacks directed at designated applications and origin servers.

With SmartParse at its core, the Fastly Next-Gen WAF employs a highly accurate detection approach, analyzing the context and potential execution of incoming requests to identify any malicious or abnormal payloads.

Here are the most common benefits of using Fastly WAF:

Zero False positives

Fastly claims that over 90% of WAAP deployments operate in block mode. AppTrana WAAP sets the bar higher with a 100% block mode percentage.

Fastly adopts a threshold approach to blocking, allowing the solution to run fully automated blocking mode during production, with minimal false positives.

This empowers to scale protection efficiently, without the maintenance complexities commonly associated with other WAFs.

Hybrid Deployment model

The Fastly WAF demonstrates adaptable deployment capabilities, safeguarding applications and APIs across diverse environments, such as containers, on-premises or cloud.

Network Learning Exchange 

A standout feature of Fastly WAF, fortified by expanding its customer base, is NLX, also known as Network Learning Exchange.

This robust feature taps into the intelligence pooled from Signal Sciences’ broad spectrum of customers, encompassing industries like media, technology, finance, and healthcare.

Through NLX, crucial information about malicious IP sources is promptly shared within the Signal Sciences Console, ensuring timely alerts to potential threats before they can endanger your websites.

Now coming to the cons of using Fastly WAF:

Rate limiting

Rate limiting becomes essential for various purposes, such as thwarting abusive bots, precise activity measurement for metering, and implementing queueing solutions like waiting rooms to manage traffic surges.

However, Fastly has comparatively limited options for rate-limiting customizations to counter DDoS attacks.

Furthermore, advanced rate-limiting rules are available only to ultimate plan users.

When it comes to rate limiting, AppTrana stands out. It employs behavioural analysis of past traffic to autonomously apply rate limits across various parameters, including IP, Geolocation, URI, and session/host.

Managed Service

The Fastly Managed Security Service can be obtained upon purchasing a Professional or Premier Platform subscription.

Reports on attack trends and security incidents, as well as consulting services for anomalous traffic review, are only available with the ultimate plan.


Only users of the ultimate plan have access to phone and chat support. Additionally, 24/7/365 support for general inquiries is limited to business hours in San Francisco, London, or Tokyo.


Imperva Cloud WAF is a top-tier web application security firewall with unparalleled defense against advanced threats.

Like Fastly, Imperva claims that over 90% of apps deployed in block mode due to its application-conscious mechanics and dynamic profiling, effectively minimizing false positives.

Moreover, Imperva distinguishes itself by being one of the few WAAP providers to offer Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) capabilities.

Let’s explore some of the advantages of using Imperva WAF:

Flexible deployment options

Imperva WAF offers various deployment options, from on-premises installations to integration with leading cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP. This adaptability ensures that each application can be effectively secured while meeting its specific service level requirements.

The incorporation of granular policy controls elevates accuracy and control, allowing organizations to customize protection according to their distinct protection demands.


Imperva presents a convenient approach to integrating with various third-party management systems, streamlining alert tracking, and network event monitoring. It boasts compatibility with well-known systems such as Amazon S3, Elastic, Splunk, and Terraform, guaranteeing effortless connectivity.

Tailored to suit specific needs, the solution is PCI-certified, readily integrated into SIEM, and engineered to excel in blocking threats while keeping false positives to a minimum.


As a crucial element in Imperva’s cybersecurity arsenal, RASP brings many benefits, including insights and protection.

Powered by innovative Language-theoretic Security (LangSec) technology, RASP swiftly identifies and mitigates application-level attacks in real time. This results in minimal false positives and enhanced visibility into vulnerabilities.

RASP is compatible with .NET, Java & Python, Node.js, and AWS Lambda.

Now coming to the cons of using Imperva WAF:

Managed Service is an add-on

You must subscribe to the add-on managed services to ensure real-time attack response and the flexibility to set security rules. The pricing structure might resemble Cloudflare’s model.

API Discovery is an add-on

Adequate API security heavily depends on the initial API discovery phase, and paying extra for this feature might not be the optimal choice.

AppTrana and similar WAAP providers offer API discovery as an included feature within their standard pricing. Additionally, AppTrana’s license stands out by providing penetration testing of API endpoints, a distinctive service that sets it apart from most other WAAP providers.


AppTrana stands out with its risk-based approach, managed services, and DDoS protection in all plans for cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and comprehensive security.

If you’re seeking cost-effective alternatives to Akamai, Cloudflare, AppTrana, Imperva, or Fastly are excellent choices to consider. To make the right decision, start a trial and observe how their WAFs perform with your specific application.

Stay tuned for more relevant and interesting security articles. Follow Indusface on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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