Top AWS WAF Alternatives in 2023
As the first cloud service provider, AWS played a pivotal role in shaping today’s public cloud market. AWS WAF stands out as one of the most popular WAFs, especially among teams already integrated with AWS, where activation is a breeze.
Top AWS WAF Features and Benefits
Flexibility in Ruleset
AWS WAF presents multiple security rule set options to defend your web applications against threats. You can choose from the built-in managed rule sets, customize your own rules, or combine both approaches for enhanced protection. These managed rule sets are mostly provided free of charge.
Additionally, on the AWS Marketplace, you can access rules designed by security partners who have developed their rule sets on AWS WAF. These rules are available through subscriptions and are licensed on a pay-as-you-go basis, ensuring you only pay for what you use.
AWS boasts a wide-reaching global network spanning over 25 regions. This extensive support enables AWS WAF users to meet compliance requirements, no matter the location.
AWS’s commitment to continuous third-party validation for thousands of compliance requirements further highlights its value.
These validations are continuously monitored to assist users in meeting security and compliance standards for various industries like finance, retail, healthcare, government, and more.
Monitoring and Visibility
Having clear insights into what is being blocked by your web ACL (web access control list) is crucial for various aspects, including threat intelligence, enhancing rule effectiveness, troubleshooting false positives, and effectively responding to incidents.
AWS WAF provides multiple monitoring options to achieve this level of visibility. One such option is the AWS Bot Control dashboard, which allows you to monitor bot traffic and view all bot-related details in a single, comprehensive view.
Moreover, AWS WAF seamlessly integrates with Amazon CloudWatch, allowing you to set up a custom dashboard to monitor the activity of rules within your web ACL.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Switch from AWS WAF
AWS Shield Advance is expensive
AWS Shield is a managed DDoS protection service designed to safeguard applications hosted on AWS. There are two types of AWS Shield: AWS Standard Shield and AWS Shield Advanced.
For smaller businesses, AWS Standard Shield often provides sufficient protection. For organizations that face a high risk of DDoS attacks and require a higher level of control and security, then AWS Shield Advanced becomes the preferred choice.
While AWS Shield Advanced offers a tailored and robust protection program, the expense can be a determining factor for some organizations. Signing up for AWS Shield Advanced requires a payment of $3000 per month per organization, and the subscription commitment should be for at least one year.
Other AWS WAF alternatives like AppTrana WAAP offer tailored DDoS mitigation based on the changing user behaviour available for all customers at a minimum price. Here is a detailed comparison of AWS WAF vs AppTrana WAF.
Request Inspection Size
While AWS WAF provides support for inspecting incoming request bodies in protected CloudFront distributions, it comes with a constraint of 64KB. This limitation becomes a potential issue when attackers send payloads that exceed this size.
Consequently, when a web request body exceeds 64KB, the packet bypasses AWS WAF and proceeds to the web server resource for processing.
False Positives Management
AWS WAF may face challenges when developing rulesets to cater to their network’s vast number of websites, resulting in false positives. To address this issue, many companies opt to run the minimum number of rules necessary to function. Consequently, only the most obvious attacks are intercepted, while others slip past the filter.
The prevalence of this issue with WAF products is widespread, resulting in only 50% of WAFs being deployed in block mode. Most WAFs are permanently in log-only mode, offering logs for post-analysis after a security breach.
AppTrana stands out as the sole WAAP platform with a remarkable track record of having 100% of applications deployed in block mode.
No Managed Service
AWS currently does not offer any managed service for WAF except for the DDoS protection in AWS Shield.
If you require managed services for custom rules and false positive monitoring in WAF, collaborating with system integrators through significant contracts is the only available option. These contracts often involve substantial financial commitments, ranging from five to six figures.
Fifteen AWS WAF Alternatives to Consider
- Azure WAF
- Palo Alto
- Google Cloud Armor
- ModSecurity(Open Source)
Top 5 AWS WAF Alternatives: A Quick Snapshot Comparison
|WAF Feature||AWS WAF||AppTrana||Cloudflare||Imperva||Akamai||Fastly|
|Gartner Peer Insights Rating||4.4||4.9||4.5||4.7||4.7||4.9|
|Gartner Peer Insights Customer Recommendation Rating||90%||100%||93%||92%||88%||97%|
|DDoS Monitoring||$3000 per month||Starts at $399||Enterprise Only||Add-On||Add-On||Ultimate Plan only|
|Virtual Patching||–||Starts at $99||Self service||Add-On||Add-On||Ultimate Plan only|
|Payload Inspection Size||64KB||134MB||128KB||Unknown||Starts: 8KB
|Bot Protection||Basic||Yes||Yes||Not available in essentials
Add-on in Professional
Bundled in Enterprise Plan
|Add-On||Yes, but unsure whether it is bundled in all plans|
|Response Timeout||Default: 30 seconds
Max: 300 seconds
|Default: 300 seconds
Max: 300 seconds
|Default: 100 seconds
Enterprise: 6000 seconds
|Default: 360 seconds
|Default: 120 seconds
Max: 599 seconds
|Default: 60 seconds
Max: 300 Seconds
|Managed Services||Only through SI partnerships||Starts at $399||Enterprise only||Add-On||Add-On||Ultimate Plan only|
|DAST Scanner||Not Available||Bundled in all plans||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Asset Monitoring||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||Not Available||Available||Available||Available as an Add-On||Available||Available|
|API Security||Basic capabilities through API Gateway||Available||Available||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||Only through SI partnerships||Starts at $399||Enterprise only||Add-On||Add-On||Ultimate Plan only|
|Origin Protection||Available||Bundled in all plans||Limited||Not Available||Add-On||Add-on|
The Top Five Alternatives to AWS WAF: In-Depth Comparison
Why Choose AppTrana WAF: Key Benefits
Bundled DAST Scanner and Pen Testing
False positives (blocking legitimate traffic) and false negatives (allowing harmful traffic) are common challenges WAFs face. To tackle these challenges effectively, users must opt for penetration testing providers or subscribe to automated vulnerability and open-source application security scanners.
AppTrana is distinguished as the only WAAP provider that provides both a DAST scanner and manual penetration testing as part of its offering.
The embedded DAST scanner can be easily configured to scan web and API applications daily or according to a preferred frequency. The accompanying dashboard offers insights into the number of open vulnerabilities protected by core rules and those requiring custom rules (virtual patches).
Additionally, the premium plan offers users the option for manual penetration testing, with the added benefit of one revalidation.
Fully Managed Service
AppTrana’s security research team provides comprehensive, 24×7, fully managed services covering DDoS monitoring, virtual patches, and false positive testing. They take complete responsibility for configuring and updating security policies and detecting, alerting, and mitigating attacks.
Critical vulnerabilities receive prompt attention within 24 hours, and the managed services team serves as an extended SOC team to validate false positives.
Request Inspection Size
AppTrana’s default configuration enables seamless request inspection for files of sizes up to 134MB, ensuring that no malicious attempts go unnoticed.
The response timeout in AppTrana is configured generously, granting a window of 5 minutes for responses to be processed without any interruptions.
Automated Positive Security Model for API
AppTrana WAAP offers a valuable feature by automating positive security models for APIs. The process involves API discovery, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and generating positive security policies within the platform.
Additionally, even teams lacking API documentation on Swagger and Postman can benefit, as the API discovery feature automatically downloads the Swagger file, and the managed services team assists with the Postman file creation for critical open APIs.
Limitations of AppTrana WAF
AppTrana WAAP, while robust in API security, does not extend support to legacy API formats like SOAP.
AppTrana’s main approach to threat intelligence involves leveraging third-party feeds, and first party threat intelligence is not as robust as some of the larger competitors. That said, the third party feeds cover most bases.
Cloudflare WAF is a security feature offered by Cloudflare, a well-known content delivery network (CDN) and internet security company.
Its global network ensures fast and efficient blocking of malicious traffic, enhancing website and application security.
Benefits of Cloudflare WAF
Global Threat Intelligence
Cloudflare’s global network, handling over 2 trillion requests daily, offers an unparalleled advantage in delivering top-tier threat intelligence.
With such an extensive and diverse dataset, Cloudflare gains unique insights into emerging threats and attack patterns, enabling rapid identification and mitigation of security risks for its customers.
A significant perk of CloudFlare is its free CDN, which seamlessly integrates without altering image URLs or displaying cdn.domain.com. It consistently delivers dependable performance and yields optimal SEO results, with no negative impacts observed.
Cloudflare safeguards a staggering 7,591,745 active websites worldwide and is renowned for countering some of the most substantial DDoS attacks on record. Recently, Cloudflare successfully defended against the largest-ever volumetric DDoS campaign, featuring numerous waves of hyper-volumetric attacks, with peak rates exceeding 50-70 million requests per second (RPS), surpassing previous benchmarks.
Like AppTrana, Cloudflare implements an adaptive DDoS mitigation system, continuously adjusting to user behaviour and optimizing rate limits accordingly.
This proactive approach enhances Cloudflare’s defensive capabilities against DDoS attacks while ensuring optimal performance and a seamless user experience.
Look at our blog post on Cloudflare WAF Vs. AWS WAF, where you can discover each solution’s distinctive features, advantages, and constraints.
Considerations for Cloudflare WAF
False Positive Management
Writing generic rules for the extensive network of hundreds and thousands of applications poses a challenge for Cloudflare, resulting in false positives.
Managing false positives can be challenging for those with security as a part-time responsibility or without a sizable security team. In such cases, application owners might have to place the WAF in log-only mode or loosen its restrictions, which can render the WAF less effective.
Additionally, some users have reported latency issues due to server location differences between customers’ original servers across various regions.
Despite Cloudflare’s excellent DDoS mitigation stack, users on free and pro plans lack support during an attack, with chat support limited to the business plan.
Expert guidance becomes essential during sophisticated DDoS attacks, and access to enhanced support options is restricted to the enterprise plan.
Virtual patching proves indispensable in web application security, offering prompt remediation to fix vulnerabilities.
The initial step involves thoroughly discovering and inventorying all web applications, accurately identifying critical vulnerabilities, and eliminating false positives. Virtual patches can then be deployed to safeguard against targeted attacks. However, you can get this only with Cloudflare’s enterprise plan or you’ll have to write rules on your own.
Alternatively, organizations may opt to manage their rules internally. Unfortunately, this path often leads to a challenge—many individuals lack the necessary skill set to write accurately and extensively test rules, particularly when addressing false positives.
In such a case, you can check out the Cloudflare WAF alternatives.
With a prominent position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewalls, Imperva is a trusted provider of WAF solutions. Imperva claims that 90% of WAAP deployments are configured in block mode.
Their comprehensive offerings include Cloud WAF and an on-premises or virtual appliance WAF Gateway, ensuring robust security against OWASP Top 10 threats.
Imperva’s unique inclusion of Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) capabilities sets it apart, making it one of the few WAAP providers to offer this cutting-edge feature.
Important features of Imperva WAF
Zero False Positive
Dealing with false positives and false negatives is a common challenge leading to resource wastage and excessive noise.
Imperva’s near-zero false positive guarantee drives over 90% of its customers to deploy their WAF in blocking mode.
Imperva RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) further minimizes the false positives by consolidating network, application, and database security intelligence into a cohesive report.
This enables decisive actions based on real risk, easing the proactive blocking of malicious IP addresses.
Providing specialized support for modern multi-cloud, DBaaS, and hybrid database scenarios, Imperva’s data-centric security platform is designed to simplify data security and compliance for organizations of all kinds.
It caters to organizations focusing on securing customer data in the cloud and safeguarding critical internal records stored in on-premise servers.
Speed is of utmost importance in countering DDoS attacks, as users demand seamless website performance and rapid loading times.
Imperva takes a proactive approach by deploying Super PoPs within strategic Internet connectivity hotspots, enabling rapid, on-demand DDoS mitigation with minimal latency.
Challenges with Imperva WAF
Optional Managed Service
Imperva’s enterprise services offer continuous assistance from security experts, but it’s worth noting that it is an add-on service for all plans.
API Discovery as an add-on
The foundation of robust API security lies in API discovery enabling organizations to build an accurate and detailed inventory of their APIs. Imperva’s API discovery remains an add-on service.
AppTrana’s license goes beyond standard API security by providing automated API discovery and the added benefit of API penetration testing, a service that none of the WAAP providers currently offer.
As one of the first-ever WAF products introduced, Akamai aims to defend against attacks, prevent website overload, mitigate harmful bots, and secure APIs.
Akamai App & API Protector brings together a suite of security features, including application security, bot protection, API security, and DDoS protection.
Leveraging Akamai’s extensive CDN infrastructure, the WAF efficiently filters and monitors incoming HTTP/HTTPS traffic, identifying and blocking malicious activities in real-time.
Akamai WAF: The Positives You Should Know
Adaptive Threat Detection
Akamai WAF’s strength lies in the Adaptive Security Engine, a sophisticated technology incorporating machine learning, real-time security intelligence, advanced automation, and insights from a vast team of 400 threat researchers.
With the Adaptive Security Engine, manual tuning has become a thing of the past as it introduces zero-touch updates, providing a nearly hands-off experience. This advanced feature improves detections by 2x and reduces false positives by 5x.
Prolexic, Akamai’s DDoS protection service, benefits from a 20 Tbps network to effectively shield against DDoS attacks. Equipped with high-capacity scrubbing centers spread across 32 metro locations worldwide, Prolexic efficiently handles traffic by directing it to the nearest available scrubbing center.
The inclusion of a Security Operations Command Center (SOCC) ensures round-the-clock support for this fully managed DDoS protection solution. The SOCC leverages proactive and custom mitigation controls to halt attacks instantly, guaranteeing fast and precise DDoS defenses.
Page Integrity Manager
As almost half of a typical website’s content originates from third parties, attackers exploit this channel to implant malware and steal users’ sensitive information, such as credit card details.
By providing advanced visibility and intelligence, Page Integrity Manager equips organizations with the tools to tackle this escalating threat effectively, garnering positive feedback from early adopters.
Limitations of Akamai WAF
Dealing with false positives on Akamai can be as challenging as with AWS WAF, especially when organizations do not have certified in-house security engineers or have not subscribed to the add-on managed services.
Payload Inspection Size
The payload inspection capability of Akamai has a limitation of 128KB, with the initial setup restricted to examining only 8KB of data. Organizations seeking to handle larger payloads must customize their configuration accordingly.
While Akamai offers a comprehensive service, it is more expensive than most other WAAP providers in the premium market.
If you have the budget, Akamai’s service delivers exceptional effectiveness, especially with managed services.
A premium version is also available, catering to customers who desire personalized support and prioritized escalation paths.
Fastly claims that 90+% WAAP deployments are in block mode.
False positive forces the decision between blocking mode or staying in log-only mode forever. Fastly’s proprietary detection technology, SmartParse, is the key factor that drives their decisions.
While AppTrana features a 100% block mode deployment, Fastly and Imperva are the only companies featuring this figure on their websites.
Here are the most common benefits of Fastly
The main goal of SmartParse is to make rapid decisions when assessing requests and identifying potential malicious payloads through context and execution analysis.
As a result, scaling protection becomes a breeze, sparing you from the usual maintenance hassles in other WAFs.
Network Learning Exchange (NLX)
Fastly’s differentiating factor lies in the Network Learning Exchange (NLX), a trusted IP reputation feed sourced from validated malicious activity data collected from Signal Sciences customers.
NLX can detect attack patterns across the customer network, empowering proactive alerts to identify potential threats before they turn malicious on websites.
Fastly, like Imperva, provides versatile deployment options, ensuring the protection of applications and APIs in different scenarios such as containers, on-premises, the cloud, or the edge, all streamlined into one integrated solution.
Challenges with Fastly WAF
If you require a managed WAF with virtual patches, DDoS monitoring, latency monitoring, and custom workflow-based bot rules, you will need to choose the ultimate plan, as these services are not offered in the starter and advantage plans.
You will need to subscribe to the ultimate plan for phone and chat support, as they are not available in any other subscription levels. Additionally, 24/7/365 support for general inquiries is limited to business hours in San Francisco, London, or Tokyo.
This limitation could be a dealbreaker for any high-profile or large-scale resource.
Only the Premier platform and selected package offerings come with advanced rate limiting, indispensable for safeguarding against excessive traffic and misuse. This feature is not available in the Professional or Essential platforms.
If you are looking for budget-friendly DDoS protection and API security options, Fastly may not meet your requirements as an alternative to AWS WAF.
Considering the various alternatives to AWS WAF, AppTrana’s fully managed service, Akamai and Imperva’s competitive options, and Fastly’s deployment flexibility and proactive detection stand out.
If you are looking for complete WAAP protection to protect from advanced threats within a tight budget, AppTrana is the exclusive option.
Starting a trial is the primary step in understanding how these AWS WAF alternatives function with your application.