In the final part of our interview on web application firewalls with Dustin Larmeir, director of security engineering at TierPoint, Dustin discusses how he expects web application firewalls (WAF) will change based on computing trends.
|Read the first two posts in this series:|
The future of WAFs
Interviewer: What’s next for web application firewalls (WAFs)?
Dustin: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will be the future of web application firewalls. Future WAF platforms will have the enhanced ability to establish a baseline of normal traffic patterns. Web application firewalls will understand statistical data and teach themselves what an anomaly looks like – and then be able to take independent action without direct human interaction. Ultimately, this has the potential to address the management overhead and some of the challenges caused by complexity.
Interviewer: What are some computing trends that will impact WAF?
Dustin: Cloud services have gained popularity. Public cloud providers now have marketplaces with lots of web application firewall vendors, which is increasing the adoption of cloud-based WAFs. Unique features allow cloud-based WAFs to scale as rapidly as a public cloud’s hyper scaling infrastructure – much more so than hardware-based WAFs.
I rarely seeing anyone using a physical WAF appliance anymore. The growth in private clouds built from hyperconverged infrastructure is another technology trend moving web application firewalls out of data centers and into a cloud-based models.
Multicloud strategies and edge computing, a new type of deployment methodology, may drive web application firewalls to be directly incorporated into edge computing architecture in the future, so edge computing deployments will have a security element built into it.
WAF for Edge, APIs and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Interviewer: A big driver of edge computing is the use of IoT devices in homes and businesses – some of which can also be used in botnet attacks. How will that affect WAF?
Dustin: IoT devices like smart refrigerators need to “phone home” to a server via an application programming interface, or API. Protecting API traffic and IoT devices with a web application firewall is important to avoid compromised devices and to prevent malicious code from being distributed back to those devices.
APIs are as subject to hacking as any other computing platform, but APIs haven’t received the same effort to protect them as web applications. A web application firewall lets you enforce API methods and calls. You can customize your protection based on the type of application you have and its risks.
With a finely tuned web application firewall, APIs can be tightly controlled. You can lock down the communication and block unauthorized methods. A WAF can enforce what is put into the API with a parameter filter, whitelist valid API calls and prevent unauthorized calls. You can also whitelist valid file extensions such as .docx and .xlsx and deny unwanted file extensions such as shell files or other executables.
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