What is WAAP? – A Quick Walk Through

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    [ This article was originally published here by Indusface.com ]

    Many of the businesses that already have revenue-generating web applications are starting an API-first program. Now, old monolith apps are being broken into microservices developed in elastic and flexible service-mesh architecture.

    The common question most organizations grapple with is – how to enhance application security designed for web apps to APIs and API security?

    Protecting APIs against modern cyber threats requires going beyond the traditional solutions. Web Application and API protection (WAAP), the next generation of Web Application Firewall (WAF) comes to the rescue.

    What is WAAP? 

    WAAP (Web Application and API Protection) is a set of cloud-based security services specially designed to protect web applications and APIs. This security tool is far more advanced than a WAF that mostly monitors OWASP application threats. This expanded WAF integrates, observes, and takes intuitive action when needed. With real-time logs and statistics, it can integrate well with the other applications the company uses.

    WAAP Becomes a Modern-Day AppSec Essential- Why? 

    APIs are not insecure by nature, but due to the complexity and quantity of API adoption, it is easy to have security gaps and cyber risks waiting to leap out. Without proper functions, security testing, authentication checks, and input validation, APIs can become a perfect target. Hackers just need one loophole for a successful exploit.

    1. API Security Breaches are Piling Up

    • In addition, the IBM Security X-Force report highlighted that 2/3 of all cloud breach incidents are now involved in misconfigured APIs.
    • API has emerged as a major actor vector with many companies reporting API-related security breaches. For example, Pelton, a fitness company exposed three million customer data due to a flawed API, which allows access to a private account without proper authentication.
    • Venmo, USPS’ Corporate Database Exposure, Facebook’s Breaches, and JustDial are a few other companies that experienced API security attacks.

    These growing threats drove the need for a new platform with API-specific security features outside the scope of traditional security management tools. This is simply an extension of the requirement for VLANs, firewalls, RASPs, and WAFs.

    2. Traditional Security Solutions Are No Longer Enough

    Enterprises must meet several requirements to maintain their web application and API protection levels. Unfortunately, the traditional security solutions that most enterprises usually deploy create problems rather than offering solutions.

    • False Negative Vulnerability Scanning:
      If you are scanning APIs with a general web application scanner, then you are most likely missing 8 out of the 10 API vulnerabilities. A vulnerability scanner, which was not designed to catch API vulnerabilities will result in false-negative reports. As a result of the lack of findings, they suggest that your APIs are secure. However, it is more likely that the scanner didn’t scan for any API weakness.
    • API Gateway Security Limit:
      The API gateway provides various security functionalities for authenticating API users, rate limiting, audit trail, and ensuring compliance. Though it offers basic API protections, leaves many opportunities for attackers. API gateway concentrates only on the front door of the API. The security can be compromised by fake and compromised credentials.
    • Signature-based Only Solutions Insufficient for Web API Security: 
      Signature-based approaches are based on the analysis of the previous attack. However, when a new attack happens, which does not match the signature, the tools won’t stop it. Further, the signatures and static rules can’t prevent business logic attacks as the traffic looks legitimate. Broken Object Level Authorization (BOLA), this business logic vulnerability occupies the number one position in the OWASP Top 10 API Threats list.
    • WAFs – Static Rules Falls Short:
      WAFs (Web Application Firewalls) prevent attacks by allowing only safe traffic through the web applications. A Web Application Firewall is an important part of AppSec but there are some limitations with its static rule-based protection. The continuous change in the modern web apps and APIs requires manual tuning as well as rule development – making manual administration a prerequisite.

    Traditional WAFs that focus on the attacks originating from external traffic might leave the insider attacks undetected.

    • RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) – Patterns are Misleading:
      The visibility of RASP is limited when it needs to be engaged with microservices at different endpoints. Though it stops the attack against these endpoints, it can’t detect actions across the entire service at once. In addition, as it does not learn the business context, it may predict a valid use case as an attempt to attack and stop it.
    • Demands Inspection of Encrypted Traffic :
      While TLS encryption denies the ability of hackers to surveil the traffic, it makes the traffic content invisible to the firewall for inspection. It offers intruders a great way to hide anything they want to add to the stream using security technologies.

    These situations make protecting web applications and APIs challenging. While protecting several legacy apps, the security solution should protect modern web applications and APIs.

    Core Capabilities of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) 

    As firewalls and other security solutions are no longer enough to fulfill the API security compliance requirements, the way to address this situation is to adopt a consolidated platform called WAAP.

    WAAP evolved as a product suite and provides comprehensive security solutions for monolithic and microservice-based apps as well as APIs. It ensures protection against known and zero-day attacks with an integrated WAF, anti-DDoS, bot management, and API protection.

    WAAP: Core Capabilities :

    • Fully Managed WAF (Web Application Firewall)
      A fully managed, cloud-based WAF serves as the first line of defense for defending web applications and APIs. They supplement the signature-based protections offered by IPS and firewalls. By monitoring apps’ behaviors and usage and through deep inspections, the Web Application Firewall designs a baseline of normal app behaviors. Then, the WAF can trigger actions when anomalies arise in the cloud or the data center. A fully managed WAF solution can also ensure defenses against the OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities,

    DDoS attacks, malicious sources, and complex threats targeting web apps and APIs, including buffer overflow, SQL injection, file inclusion, XSS, cookie poisoning, and many others.

    • API Security
      Automated API protection shields API endpoints from exploitation. It comprises a wide range of functions like monitoring and logging, traffic management, and API versioning. Further API protection includes additional essential security features such as authorization and authentication, rate limiting, API key verification, and call rewriting. API security also includes dynamic attack signatures to detect threats targeting APIs.
    • Bot Mitigation and Management
      Malicious botnets are a key tool for initiating an attack against an API. Bot mitigation capabilities block malicious bot activity while allowing bots that support legitimate business needs like search engines or performance and health monitoring tools. With seamless visibility as well as control over bot traffic, it protects websites, web applications, and APIs from automated traffic.
    • DDoS Attack Protection
      Anti-DDoS solutions secure on-premise as well as cloud-based assets no matter where they’re hosted (Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Google Publish Cloud). WAAP ensures that its DDoS mitigation strategy is capable to detect and mitigate API-focused distributed denial of service attacks. It blocks traffic at the edge for seamless business continuity with no performance impact and guaranteed uptime.

    Additional WAAP Capabilities

    Other Common WAAP capabilities to protect web applications and APIs against a wide range of security attacks without involving a great deal of manual oversight and management include:

    • ML-Based Threat Detection
      Signature-based detection contributes to many false positives, WAAP employs ML-based threat detection to defend zero-day attacks with minimum false positives.
    • Real-Time Attack Analytics
      The Web application and API protection tool offers complete visibility with domain expertise and employs ML techniques to monitor all security events and reveal attack patterns.

    Automation And Orchestration

    In addition to the core capabilities, web application and API protection solutions offer automation and enable orchestration across the entire infrastructure. Manual rules creation and policy rewriting can’t keep up with the speed of innovation. WAAP approach automates the flow of security events and empowers incident response workflows. Moving to this unified solution delivers the operational advantages by automating rules’ updates. With built-in intelligence, the WAAP solution learns on its own to adapt to the dynamic threat landscape.

    With WAAP, you can eliminate threats before they get in, keep hackers out of your system, and more. Secure your business and safeguard your reputation with a new WAAP solution!

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