Top F5 WAF Alternatives in 2023

Posted DateOctober 18, 2023
Posted Time 10   min Read

F5 Cloud WAF combines signature and behaviour-based threat detection mechanisms to protect applications, regardless of the deployment location.

It protects against injection attacks, session hijacking, cross-site scripting, man-in-the-middle attacks, and numerous other vulnerabilities, with continuously updated policies to shield against emerging threats.

Most Important Benefits of F5 WAF

Hybrid Deployment

With the evolving landscape of application deployment, whether in public or private clouds, on-premises, collocated, or at the edge, each application comes with its own unique security requirements.

F5 allows the security teams to select the most suitable deployment option that aligns with their application’s requirements.

Automatic API Discovery

SecOps teams often have a limited understanding of APIs, and managing various versions of API specifications or identifying unknown APIs presents significant difficulties.

Like AppTrana, F5 WAF extends beyond traditional API security solutions that permit the import of Swagger/OpenAPI definitions. In cases where API specifications are unavailable, such as with Shadow APIs, this solution can actively discover the API specifications from real-time traffic.

Automatically importing an API schema creates a positive security model based on the existing OpenAPI specification (OAS).

Importantly, these key features are only available in advanced WAF, whereas, in AppTrana, these functionalities are bundled in all plans.

CI/CD Integration

Modern security strategy isn’t complete without the integration of DevSecOps practices. Embedding security across the entire software delivery process is essential to ensure secure applications’ rapid and high-quality delivery.

F5 is renowned for its seamless integration with prominent DevOps tools such as Ansible, ServiceNow, and GitLab, making it an excellent choice for software and product development companies operating within agile development cycles.

BIG-IP Load Balancer

For any application or website deployed, load balancing is essential for managing high traffic volumes and providing failover capabilities if the primary infrastructure experiences disruptions.

F5’s BIG-IP load balancer is well-regarded as a leading product in the industry, and it is bundled with the F5 WAAP solution.

F5 Cloud WAAP is a recent addition to the market compared to recognized competitors. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the top 17 WAAP providers in the market.

Reasons Why You Might Want To Look For F5 Alternatives

Technical Support

Continuous support for maintaining application security policies and guidance in sticking to best practices for WAF management is essential. F5’s product support is renowned for its excellence, much like AppTrana’s.

However, it’s important to note that within the F5’s framework, technical support is only available for F5 products covered by active support contracts. Subscribers looking for enhanced levels of support need to upgrade to either Premium Support or Premium Plus Support.

Payload Inspection Size

F5’s inspection capacity extends to payloads of 30MB or beyond. However, it’s important to note that the default configuration limits the inspection to 20MB, which needs to be expanded through configuration adjustments.

False Positive Monitoring

When building and securing applications, you often encounter a combination of legitimate violations and false positives. Separating false positives from valid violations is a challenging task.

In such scenarios, managed services become critical. F5’s managed services are only available to premium users.

To avoid the risk of frequent false positives, application owners often set their WAF to log-only mode.

AppTrana - the best F5 WAF alternative

Fifteen F5 WAF Alternatives to Consider

  1. AppTrana
  2. Cloudflare
  3. Imperva
  4. Akamai
  5. AWS WAF
  6. Barracuda
  7. Palo Alto
  8. Fortiweb
  9. Fastly
  10. Radware
  11. Azure WAF
  12. ThreatX
  13. Sucuri
  14. Google Cloud Armor
  15. ModSecurity(Open Source)

A Quick Snapshot Comparison of the Top 5 F5 WAF Alternatives

WAF Feature F5 AppTrana Cloudflare Imperva Akamai AWS WAF
Gartner Peer Insights Rating 4.9 4.5 4.7 4.7 4.4
Gartner Peer Insights Customer Recommendation Rating  – 100% 93% 92% 88% 90%
DDoS Monitoring Not Available Starts at $399 Enterprise Only Add-On Add-On $3000 per month
Virtual Patching Self Managed Starts at $99 Enterprise Only Add-On Add-On
Payload Inspection Size 20MB (option to increase to 30MB+) 134MB 128KB Unknown Starts: 8KB

Max: 128KB

NTLM Support No Yes No Unknown No No
Bot Protection Yes Yes Yes Not available in essentials

Add-on in Professional

Bundled in Enterprise Plan

Add-On Basic
Response Timeout Default: 300 seconds


Max: Unknown

Default: 300 seconds


Max: 300 seconds

Default: 100 seconds
Enterprise: 6000 seconds
Default: 360 seconds

Max: Unknown

Default: 120 seconds


Max: 599 seconds

Default: 30 seconds


Max: 300 seconds

Managed Services Only in Enterprise Plan Starts at $399 Enterprise only Add-On Add-On Only through SI partnerships
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 Available Available Available Available as an Add-On Available Not Available
API Security Available Available Available Available Available Basic capabilities through API Gateway
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 Available Starts at $399 Enterprise only Add-On Add-On Only through SI partnerships
Origin Protection Not Available Bundled in all plans Basic Not Available Add-on Available

The Top Five Alternatives to F5 WAF: In-Depth Comparison


AppTrana distinguishes itself by potentially being the only WAAP in the market that promises a ZERO false positive guarantee.

Their integrated managed services team serves as an extended SOC team, partnering with application teams to ensure that the rules are customized to align seamlessly with the requirements of each organization adopting AppTrana.

Here are important features of AppTrana:

Embedded DAST Scanner and Pen Testing

AppTrana’s approach is unique because it is founded on the “Risk-Based” application security principle. Integrating DAST scanners streamlines the identification of vulnerabilities and the enforcement of security policies.

This exceptional feature facilitates almost instant mitigation of vulnerability assessment results, allowing for virtual patching of critical vulnerabilities in less than 24 hours rather than the typical weeks or months it might take.

Furthermore, the premium plan offers the option for manual penetration testing, which includes one revalidation session.

Automated API Discovery & Positive Security Model

AppTrana’s holistic approach covers API discovery, ongoing vulnerability scanning, manual penetration testing, and the establishment of positive security policies within the WAAP ecosystem.

An outstanding advantage is its accessibility to teams that may not have API documentation in formats like Swagger and Postman. With the API discovery feature, obtaining the Swagger file becomes an effortless automated process. Moreover, the managed services team is crucial in developing Postman files for critical open APIs.

Bundled Managed Service

If you’re looking for DDoS monitoring, virtual patching, or assistance with false positive testing, AppTrana’s security research team is consistently available to provide support. Their expertise lies in conducting and optimizing scans, validating and prioritizing vulnerability findings, and generating actionable reports free from false positives.

For those searching for F5 WAF alternatives primarily for managed WAF services, AppTrana can be an ideal selection. It’s worth noting that even customers on the $99 plan can count on AppTrana for continuous phone, email, and chat support in the event of an attack.

Here are some limitations of AppTrana:

Legacy APIs

AppTrana’s API security does not support older API formats, such as SOAP. It prioritizes addressing contemporary API security requirements and does not include compatibility with outdated protocols.

Threat Intelligence

AppTrana prioritizes utilizing third-party threat intelligence feeds as a crucial aspect of its security approach. Despite its internal threat intelligence might not be as robust as some larger competitors, integrating third-party feeds effectively protects a wide array of potential threats.


Cloudflare is a renowned global provider of web infrastructure and cybersecurity services. Widely recognized for its proficiency in CDN and DDoS mitigation, Cloudflare is a reliable choice for accelerating and securing many websites, APIs, SaaS services, and other internet assets.

DDoS Mitigation

Cloudflare operates an expansive global Anycast network with an extraordinary capacity exceeding 197 Tbps, far surpassing the scale of the largest DDoS attacks ever recorded. This immense capability empowers all internet assets hosted on Cloudflare’s network to withstand the most massive modern DDoS attacks effectively.

Like AppTrana WAAP, Cloudflare’s adaptive DDoS protection system intelligently learns and adapts to your unique traffic patterns while maintaining high performance.

Cloudflare offers enterprise-grade DDoS protection without data limits, all at a fixed monthly rate. However, it’s important to note that access to round-the-clock global email and emergency phone support is exclusively available to Enterprise customers.

Actionable Threat Intelligence

Cloudflare’s broad array of services encompasses nearly 20% of websites online, supporting millions of Internet properties and customers across more than 270 cities via their extensive global network.

Their exclusive protection of websites worldwide grants them access to substantial global data, enabling them to convert this data into actionable threat intelligence.

Cloudflare for SaaS

Cloudflare for SaaS provides an extensive array of security solutions, including advanced Bot Mitigation, WAF rules, analytics, DDoS mitigation, and more. These solutions empower SaaS providers to deliver fast and highly secure applications.

The Free, Pro, and Business plans offer adaptable pricing structures that particularly favor startups and growing businesses, allowing them to scale up as their business expands easily.

Here are some limitations of Cloudflare WAF:

False Positive Monitoring

While Cloudflare possesses world-class threat intelligence, it grapples with the responsibility of creating generic rules for the multitude of applications on its network, which can result in false positives.

Effectively managing false positives can be challenging, mainly when security is not a full-time role, or you lack a large team of security experts.

In many cases, application owners are compelled to either set the WAF to log-only mode or relax its security measures, which can render the WAF ineffective.

Request Inspection Size

In the free, pro, and business plans, the maximum request size for inspection is limited to 128 KB. However, this limitation may not be sufficient, considering transmitting payloads that exceed this size is relatively easy.

Response Time Out

If your applications have extended response times, it’s important to note that with Cloudflare, responses will time out after 100 seconds. If you require longer timeouts, you will need to consider the enterprise plan.


Imperva states that over 90% of WAAP deployments are set to operate in block mode. Apart from AppTrana, which claims a 100% block mode deployment rate, Imperva is the only provider highlighting this statistic on their website.

This high adoption of block mode is likely a result of Imperva Research Labs’ rigorous testing efforts to minimize false positives before implementing blocking rules. Additionally, Imperva stands out as one of the few WAAP providers offering RASP capabilities.

Here are the advantages of using Imperva WAF:


RASP, or Runtime Application Self-Protection, provides applications with the capability to defend against known and unknown attacks, offering a dual advantage.

  • RASP leverages LANGSEC, an industry-leading attack detection method, enhancing its ability to detect threats accurately.
  • RASP effectively diminishes false positives by seamlessly integrating network, application, and database security insights into a unified and comprehensive report.

Hybrid Deployment

Like F5, Imperva WAF offers multiple flexible deployment options, encompassing on-premises installations and seamless integration with leading cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP. This adaptability ensures the adequate protection of each application while accommodating its service level requirements.

Here are the cons of Imperva WAF

API Discovery is Add-on

This limitation can delay detection and response to security threats or vulnerabilities that specifically target APIs.

The leading WAAP providers, like AppTrana, include API discovery as a standard feature. What sets AppTrana apart is its specialized penetration testing for API endpoints, a unique service that distinguishes it from the rest.

No Bundled VAPT

Combining an integrated vulnerability scanner and penetration testing offers a comprehensive approach to threat detection, providing a high confidence level and potentially reaching 100% accuracy.

On the other hand, opting for Imperva WAF as an F5 alternative means no bundled VAPT is included, necessitating organizations to contract separate VAPT providers for tasks such as DAST scanning and compliance reporting.

Akamai WAF

Akamai, a pioneering solution in the WAF domain, is pivotal in the continually evolving WAAP landscape. As one of the earliest entrants in the CDN space, Akamai retains its dominance in content delivery.

Akamai’s App & API Protector seamlessly integrates a suite of advanced technologies, including a web application firewall, bot mitigation, API security, and DDoS protection, all within an intuitive and unified solution.

Here are the most common benefits of Akamai WAF:

Page Integrity Manager

The most efficient approach to combat in-browser attacks involves detecting suspicious and malicious script activities. Akamai’s Page Integrity Manager accomplishes this by actively monitoring user sessions and analyzing real-time scripts.

Based on real-user behavioural detection, this technology safeguards against JavaScript threats that include web skimming, formjacking, and Magecart attacks, thereby protecting websites effectively.

Managed Service

Akamai’s Managed Security Service is customized to align with your business needs, delivering a holistic solution. It encompasses a wide range of services, supported by Akamai’s industry knowledge and adherence to best practices.

While it comes with a premium price tag for both the product and the managed services, the managed service consistently earns top ratings compared to other Akamai alternatives.

It demonstrates its high effectiveness, particularly for those organizations with the budget to afford Akamai, especially in combination with their managed services.

Let us consider some limitations of using Akamai:

Unmetered DDoS Protection is an Add-on

Although Akamai offers always-on DDoS protection, this aspect may not consistently match the level of comprehensive unmetered DDoS protection provided by other WAAP providers like AppTrana.

Akamai typically offers metered protection, where charges are based on the traffic volume they mitigate. Consequently, during significant DDoS attacks, Akamai may incur cost implications.


The platform tends to be positioned as a premium solution in terms of cost. Akamai is renowned for its enterprise-level products and top-tier features, which mirror its exceptional performance and reliability. This underscores the value of investing in Akamai, especially when accompanied by their managed services.


AWS WAF is recognized as one of the most commonly adopted web application firewalls, particularly for teams already established within the AWS ecosystem, simplifying the activation process.

Here are the most common advantages of AWS WAF:

Flexibility in Ruleset

Within the AWS Marketplace, you can access rules crafted by renowned WAF providers, accessible through subscription models and a pay-as-you-go licensing system. This method guarantees that you are only charged for the exact level of usage you need.

Easy Maintenance

When dealing with scenarios such as applications hosted on AWS, opting for AWS WAF streamlines the setup, procurement, access, and payment management procedures.

However, if your applications extend across multi-cloud, on-premises, or hybrid environments, it’s recommended to consider a platform-agnostic WAF like AppTrana for a seamless approach to security.

Here are some limitations of AWS WAF:

AWS Shield Advance is Expensive

AWS Shield Advanced offers a highly effective and tailored DDoS protection solution. However, subscribing to AWS Shield Advanced requires a monthly fee of $3,000 per organization and a mandatory one-year subscription commitment.

In contrast, other alternatives to AWS WAF, such as AppTrana WAAP, deliver customized DDoS mitigation that adjusts to changing user behaviour. AppTrana makes this feature accessible to all customers, starting at an affordable price. Here’s a thorough comparison of AWS WAF and AppTrana WAF.

No Managed Service

AWS does not offer managed services specifically for WAF, except for the DDoS protection included in AWS Shield. If you require managed services for tasks like custom rule configuration and false positive monitoring within your WAF, your only viable option is to engage system integrators through extensive contracts. Typically, these contracts involve substantial financial commitments ranging from five to six figures.


If you require a managed WAF on a tight budget, AppTrana stands as your primary option.

For those who prioritize top-tier protection, and cost is not a concern, Akamai, especially with managed service offerings, is a solid pick.

On the other hand, if you seek a well-rounded WAAP with minimal costs, Cloudflare is an excellent option. However, as your requirements grow and require comprehensive protection, the pricing becomes relatively comparable compared to larger WAAP providers like Akamai and Imperva.

Starting a trial is the initial step in gaining insight into the functionality of these F5 WAF alternatives within your application.

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