Web Application Firewall (WAF) vs Network Firewall : Know the difference

Difference : Web Application Firewall (WAF) vs Network Firewall

While deliberating on type of security to be employed for Web-facing applications or e-commerce servers, designers and administrators may find this challenging whether Network firewall or Web application Firewall addresses the security requirement of such deployment.

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While one school of thought may argue that perimeter security (provided by Network Firewalls) is the essential item secured traffic flow, others may support Web Application firewall considering its ability to provide security from Layer 7 attacks.

Related – Firewall Security Level

So, lets 1st understand the basics of WAF (Web Application Firewall) and Network Firewall.

WAF vs NETWORK FIREWALL

WAF or Web Application Firewall –

A Web Application Firewall is a network security firewall solution that protects web applications from HTTP/S and web application-based security vulnerabilities.

Some of the most common types of attacks which are targeted at web servers (Web Applications) include –

  • SQL injection attacks
  • cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
  • DDoS attacks.

Know more about WAF 

Network Firewall –

Network Firewall is a device which controls access to a secured LAN network to protect it from unauthorized access.

A firewall acts as a filter which blocks incoming non-legitimate traffic from entering the LAN network and cause attacks.

The main purpose of a firewall is to separate a secured area (Higher security Zone / Inside Network) from a less secure area (Low-security Zone / Outside Network etc.) and to control communications between the two.

A firewall also controls inbound and outbound communications across devices.

Now that we have clarity of fundamentals of WAF and Network Firewall, below table references on how both technologies differ from each other

WAF vs Network Firewall  –

Detailed comparison table of web application firewall vs firewall –

PARAMETERWAFNETWORK FIREWALL
Philosophy
A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a network security firewall solution that protects web applications from HTTP/S and web application-based security vulnerabilities.
Network Firewall is a device which controls access to secured LAN network to protect it from unauthorized access. Firewall acts as a filter which blocks incoming non-legitimate traffic from entering the LAN network and cause attacks.
OSI Layer coverage
Layer 7
Layer 3 - 4
Modes of operation
* Active Inspection
* Passive mode
* Transparent mode
* Routed mode
DDOS Protection
Application Layer
Basic level only at Network Layer
Target objects protection
Protects HTTP/HTTPs based servers and Applications placed in Internet facing Zones of Network Firewall
Protection of user and organizational IT assets including applications, Servers and management.
Placement in Network
Close to Web/Internet Facing Applications
On Perimeter of Network (Commonly Internet)
Web Application protection
All-encompassing, including complete coverage of application layer
Minimal

Access Control
Not possible
Possible
Algorithms
* Signature based
* Anomaly detection
* Heuristics
* Packet filtering
* Stateful/stateless inspection
* Proxy
Related attacks protection
* SQL injection attacks
* Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
* DDoS attacks.
* Attack from less secured zones.
* Unauthorised users accessing private networks

Download difference between WAF and Firewall table here.

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