The Different Types of Web Application Firewalls and Their Cybersecurity Benefits

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) act as an additional layer of security, preventing malicious traffic from reaching your company’s resources. They offer an in-depth level of protection, analyzing the traffic and then deciding whether it is natural or malicious. A WAF will block traffic if it is deemed malicious, ensuring that no data can enter or leave the site without first being verified.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Typically, WAFs have a strict set of policies that they adhere to. If a traffic source does not check the boxes of these policies, so to speak, their connection to the site is denied. This additional layer of security acts as a defense system, blocking malicious traffic and filtering malicious access attempts or data transfers.

Especially considering that 80% of businesses saw an increase in cybercrime in 2020, there’s never been a better time to start thinking seriously about the strength of your security defenses.

What types of WAFs are there?

Currently, WAFs are built and implemented online in three main ways. These three methods all involve different circumstances and methods of application.

These are:

  • Network based
  • Cloud-based
  • Host based

Let’s break them down further.

Network based WAF

A network-based WAF is installed locally on a network. These are most often the most expensive form of WAFs as they require maintenance and storage space. Their main goal is to minimize latency. This is a hardware-based WAF.

Cloud-based WAF

Cloud-based WAFs run (as you might have guessed) from the cloud, providing an easy setup process that normally only requires a change in DNS. With this turnkey solution, cloud-based WAFs are the easiest to install and have many cost advantages. Without the need for on-site storage and maintenance, it is the least expensive WAF solution.

Typically, cloud-based WAFs are a subscription service, with companies essentially offloading their WAF security to another company to streamline the process and eliminate any potential pain points.

Host based WAF

The third type of WAF that companies often turn to is a host-based WAF. These are more favored than their network counterparts as they offer a higher degree of customization. However, since they still run on local servers, it’s still an expensive form of getting a WAF for your business. They also require on-site maintenance.

For this reason, host- and network-based WAFs are generally less favored than a cloud solution, with the cloud meaning freedom from storage and maintenance costs.

What can a web application firewall secure?

While most people associate WAFs with protecting websites, they can actually secure more aspects. When deployed correctly, a WAP’s comprehensive defense system can defend a range of different sources.

These include:

  • Cloud applications – Even items stored in the cloud will be protected when you add a WAF to your system.
  • Third Party Apps – Once you get permission, you can extend your WAF to cover even the third-party apps your business relies on to operate.
  • Microservices and APIs – WAFs provide comprehensive defense, even down to individual functions.
  • Legacy and Active Applications – Whether currently active or not, a WAF will protect your system applications and ensure that they are impervious to attacks.

A web application firewall aims to reduce the size of your attack surface, protecting a wide range of different potential access points from attackers.

Why should my business use a web application firewall?

Acting as the first layer of security protection, a WAF will protect your business – small or large – from potential threats. The Open Web Application Security Project said that setting up a WAF service for your business is the best practice you can start in an attempt to protect your site from attacks.

Let’s look at some top reasons why you should adopt a WAF:

  1. Reasons for scalability
  2. Automatique
  3. Complete
  4. Low costs

Let’s develop them.

Reasons for scalability

As your business grows, so does the attack surface (total number of potential access points for hackers). Most of the time, you might not even realize the number of possible access points, which means you won’t be able to defend your site.

However, when you introduce a WAF into your system, then they will start covering all of your sites, applications, and hosting environments. This means that even if you forget to put manual security defenses against a particular access point, you will still have a layer of security watching over your systems.

This allows you to scale your business without having to spend so much time worrying about potentially being hacked.


WAFs are fully automatic, especially if you opt for a cloud-based solution. Because of this, you will spend less time and resources when setting up your security team on surveillance duty. Instead of having to run around-the-clock security, the WAF will cover the essentials of security. Even better, because it’s completely automatic, you’ll be able to protect yourself 24/7.


As stated earlier, web application firewalls cover much more than just a website. Since they will offer a comprehensive level of security in cloud environments, local applications, third-party systems, etc., you will be able to access an incredibly effective security system with just one click.

Considering that cloud-based WAF solutions only take a few minutes to connect, requiring only a slight DNS change, this seems like the natural step to moving to a WAF defense system.

Low costs

Another factor that makes cloud-based WAF solutions so popular is that they are significantly cheaper than network-based and host-based WAFs. Thanks to this, you will be able to obtain a high level of security that is constantly updated.

Without the need for update, maintenance or storage costs, you will be able to access a WAF without having to spend a significant part of your cybersecurity budget. By doing so, you will get a strong cybersecurity defense system that will help keep your business safe.

Final Thoughts

Building a strong cyber defense system for your business is now more critical than ever. With cybercrime cases increasing every day, the sooner you take digital security into your own hands, the better.

By using a web application firewall, you will be one step closer to a complete defense system for your business.

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Last updated February 17, 2022.

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