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· 9 min read

In the digital age, cybersecurity is a concern for everyone. From individuals to large corporations, understanding the threats we face is the first step towards protecting ourselves. In this blog post, we'll explore key points of cybersecurity, focusing on business logic attacks, online fraud, malware, and the evolution of firewall technology.

Business Logic Attacks: The Devil is in the Design

Business logic attacks are a unique breed of software vulnerabilities. Unlike common bugs that can be patched, these attacks exploit core design flaws in an application. These flaws could be anything from predictable user names to weak password policies.

For instance, if a website uses a predictable pattern for user identifiers, like, an attacker can use this information to perform a dictionary attack on an account. Similarly, if a website's password recovery questions are easily researchable (like the name of your high school published on LinkedIn), an attacker can use this information to gain access to your account.

The best way to prevent these attacks is to address security in the design phase of software development. By incorporating security stories into the development process and engaging information security teams early on, developers can identify and address potential vulnerabilities before they become a problem.

Online Fraud: The Ever-Evolving Threat

Online fraud is not a new threat, but it's one that's constantly evolving. With over 90 billion e-commerce transactions made in 2016 alone, the potential for fraud is enormous.

Attackers are now using machine learning and artificial intelligence to adapt and communicate with victims automatically. They're also using social engineering techniques, like phishing and spearphishing, to trick users into giving up their sensitive information.

Malware: The Silent Threat

Malware is another major cybersecurity threat. From viruses and worms to ransomware, malware can cause significant damage to a system. One of the most concerning trends in malware is the ability to change data to different values altogether surgically.

Imagine if an attacker could change a stoplight at a major intersection from red to green on-demand or disable your car's brakes while you're driving down the freeway. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), these scenarios are becoming increasingly possible.

Evolution of Firewall Technology

To combat these threats, firewall technology has evolved significantly over the years. From traditional Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) technology to Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) technology, these systems are designed to protect our networks and systems from attacks.

However, these systems are not infallible. Attackers can use various techniques to evade detection, like packet fragmentation, encoding, and whitespace diversity.

This is where Web Application Firewall (WAF) technology comes in. WAFs are designed to protect HTTP applications by analyzing transactions and preventing malicious traffic from reaching the application. They can detect and address application layer attacks, like SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and provide URL, parameter, cookie, and form protection for applications.

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) are a crucial part of any cybersecurity strategy. They serve as the first line of defence for applications, detecting and mitigating a wide range of threats. However, they could be more foolproof and should be deployed alongside other complementary technologies for a robust defence-in-depth strategy. Let's dive into the world of WAFs and understand their capabilities, how they work, and the emerging trends in this space.

Core WAF Capabilities

WAFs are designed to detect and mitigate threats by analyzing data structures rather than relying on exact dataset matches. This is achieved through the use of heuristics and rulesets. These rulesets can be configured to consider various information such as the country of origin, length of parts of the request, potentially malicious SQL code, and strings that appear in requests.

WAFs and XSS Attacks

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are a significant risk to businesses and consumers. Developers can prevent these attacks by validating user input and using output encoding. However, even with these best practices, vulnerabilities can still exist due to third-party libraries or software development processes that you don't control.

An attacker first needs to find an XSS vulnerability before they can exploit it. They can use tools like web application vulnerability scanners and fuzzers to find these vulnerabilities automatically. Once a vulnerability is found, the attacker can inject malicious scripts into the web application.

WAFs and Session Attacks

Session tampering is a significant threat that can allow attackers to manipulate session data and potentially gain unauthorized access to a system. WAFs can help mitigate these attacks by digitally signing artefacts such as cookies and ensuring users are communicating only with servers that have valid digital certificates.

Minimizing WAF Performance Impact

WAFs are deployed inline, meaning they are directly in the line of traffic. Therefore, it's crucial to ensure that they are engineered, designed, and deployed properly to avoid introducing incremental latency. Modern WAFs should be equipped to match or outpace the speeds of the Layer 2-3 devices that feed them.

WAF High-Availability Architecture

High availability (HA) is a critical aspect of any WAF solution. It's important that the components within the appliance are fault-tolerant from the outset. After addressing HA within the device itself, HA across devices is required. WAF deployments should support multiple horizontally scheduled devices to provide for HA and allow for sufficient horizontal scaling to accommodate any required network throughput.

Emergent WAF Capabilities

As technologies advance, attackers continue to take advantage of new capabilities to advance their agendas. WAF vendors are starting to add integrations with adjacent solutions and incorporate WAF technology into existing technology trends such as DevOps, Security Information and Event Management Strategy, containerization, cloud, and artificial intelligence.

WAFs Authentication Capabilities

WAF solutions allow you to implement strong two-factor authentication on any website or application without integration, coding, or software changes. This can help protect administrative access, secure remote access to corporate web applications, and restrict access to a particular web page.

Detecting and Addressing WAF/IDS Evasion Techniques

When evaluating WAF technologies, it's important to test for core attack vector coverage and how well the solution addresses WAF evasion techniques. Some examples of WAF evasion techniques include multiparameter vectors, Unicode encoding, invalid characters, SQL comments, redundant whitespace, and various encoding techniques for XSS and Directory Traversal.

Virtual Patching

Virtual patching is a quick development and short-term implementation of a security policy intended to prevent an exploit from being successfully executed against a vulnerable target. It can help protect applications without modifying an application's actual source code. Virtual patches need to be installed only on the WAFs, not on every vulnerable device.

WAFs are a crucial part of any cybersecurity strategy. They offer a robust defence against a wide range of threats and are continually evolving to keep up with emerging trends and technologies. However, they could be more foolproof and should be deployed alongside other complementary technologies for a robust defence-in-depth strategy.

WAF Components

WAFs are an essential part of any cybersecurity strategy. But they work with others. They're part of a team that includes other technologies like API Gateways, Bot Management and Mitigation systems, Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions, and Data Masking and Redaction tools. Each of these technologies plays a unique role in securing your applications and data.

API Gateways

API Gateways are like the bouncers of your application. They control who gets in and who doesn't. They protect your internal APIs and allow them to be securely published to external consumers. They can also do protocol translation, meaning they can receive a REST request from the internet and translate that into a SOAP request for internal services.

Bot Management and Mitigation

Bots are like the little minions of the internet. Some are good, like search engine bots that index web pages. But some are bad, like bots that generate mass login attempts to verify the validity of stolen username and password pairs. WAFs can help deal with certain types of bots, but for more advanced bot threats, you might need a specialized bot mitigation and defence device.

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)

RASP is like a bodyguard that's always with your application. It's embedded into an application's runtime and can respond to runtime attacks by replacing tampered code with original code, safely exiting or terminating an app after a runtime attack has been identified, or sending alerts to monitoring systems.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and DDoS Attacks

CDNs are like the delivery trucks of the internet. They distribute cached content and access controls closer to the users that consume them. They can also help protect against DDoS attacks by absorbing the attacks and minimizing the performance impact on the actual web servers.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP solutions are like the security cameras of your data. They ensure that sensitive data doesn't leak out of corporate boundaries. Modern DLP solutions expand beyond the perimeter and integrate with cloud providers and directly with user devices.

Data Masking and Redaction

Data Masking and Redaction tools are like the blurring effect on a video. They conceal data or redact it so that only those who have a need to know can see the full dataset.

WAF Deployment Models

WAFs can be deployed in various ways, including on-premises, native cloud, cloud-virtual, inline reverse proxy, transparent proxy/network bridge, out-of-band, multitenancy, single tenancy, software appliance-based, and hybrid. The choice of deployment model depends on your specific needs and environment.

Designing a Comprehensive Network Security Solution

When designing a comprehensive network security solution, it's important to consider all the components and how they work together. This includes WAFs, API Gateways, Bot Management and Mitigation systems, RASP, CDNs, DLP solutions, and Data Masking and Redaction tools. Each of these technologies plays a unique role in securing your applications and data.


Web Application Firewalls are an essential part of any cybersecurity strategy. But they work with others. They're part of a team that includes other technologies that together provide a robust defence-in-depth strategy. So, when you're planning your cybersecurity strategy, make sure to consider all these components and how they can work together to secure your applications and data.

· 7 min read

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) are the most advanced firewall capabilities in the industry. They've evolved from traditional firewalls focusing on network layer traffic to sophisticated systems that can understand and track session state and make sense of what's happening at the application layer.

The Need for WAFs

As cyber-attacks become more advanced, climbing up the ladder of the Open Systems Interconnection model, there's a growing need for a different kind of inspection. This inspection should not only understand and make sense of network traffic but also be able to parse the "good" from the "bad" traffic. This is where WAFs come in.

WAFs can protect your systems through several means. One such method is signature-based detection, where a known attack signature has been documented, and the WAF parses the traffic, looking for a pattern match. Another method involves the application of behaviour analysis and profiling. Advanced WAFs can conduct a behavioural baseline to construct a profile and look for deviations relative to that profile.

The Changing Landscape of Cyber Attacks

In the past, attacks on applications and infrastructure were carried out by individual hackers manually. However, to become more efficient and drive more results, malicious operators and organizations have largely automated and industrialized attacks through the use of distributed botnets.

The Evolution of Application Development

Applications and their development have undergone significant changes with the advent of cloud deployments, container technologies, and microservices. Developers often reuse other people's code to achieve outcomes and functionality for their applications. This has led to an increase in the use of third-party libraries during the application development process.

Attackers are aware of this and are looking to exploit vulnerabilities found in commonly used third-party libraries such as OpenSSL. This means that the number of well-known vulnerabilities multiplies exponentially the more they are used in the development process. WAFs and adjacent technologies can help provide gap protection in the form of signature-based and behaviour-based identification and blocking. This can help address not only known vulnerabilities and threats but also zero-day threats and vulnerabilities.

Understanding WAF Functionality

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10, which outlines the most prevalent vulnerabilities found in applications and walks through the means of mitigation by way of compensating controls.

Adjacent WAF technologies and functionality include:

  • API gateways
  • Bot management and mitigation
  • Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Data Masking and Redaction
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEMs)
  • Security orchestration and incident response automation

By understanding the latest developments in WAF technology, you can better incorporate and integrate it with your existing and planned technology deployments, including cloud, on-premises, and hybrid topologies.

The Rise of Botnets

First, let's talk about botnets. These are networks of compromised computers controlled by hackers. Initially, botnets were used mainly for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. However, hackers have now industrialized botnets to automate attacks for different purposes. They can grow the size of the botnet, execute DDoS attacks, or even carry out surgical strikes against websites and applications.

What's more, hackers have started offering botnets-as-a-service on the dark web. This means that attackers can rent botnets to execute their own campaigns. It's a structured, albeit illegitimate, business model that's making cyber attacks more efficient and widespread.

The Complexity of Code and the Use of Third-Party Libraries

The past decade has seen an explosion of open-source code. This has given developers a plethora of choices about which libraries to use to minimize development effort. However, this has also opened up new avenues for attackers.

Attackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in commonly used libraries like OpenSSL. A vulnerability in such a common core security library can have serious security implications. Remember the Heartbleed Bug? It was a serious vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library that allowed for the theft of information protected by SSL and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols.

The Advent of Microservices

Another trend in the development world is the use of microservices. These are small, discrete services that allow development teams to deploy new functionality iteratively and in quick, small sprints. However, each microservice potentially represents its own unique attack surface that can be exploited.

Developers often incorporate third-party libraries in these microservices as needed. This can introduce more individual attack surfaces and vulnerable third-party libraries, exposing your organization to additional risk.

The Challenge of Secure Application Development

Application development is like the Wild West. Developers have full freedom to pull third-party libraries from anywhere on the web. But what if they're using versions of these libraries that have been modified with backdoors or other malicious code? Or what if they're using older versions with known vulnerabilities?

The good news is that with the advent of DevOps, the ability to lock down source libraries through programmatically managed pipelines and build processes has greatly increased. However, many development teams are still in the early phases of adopting mature DevOps deployments. In the meantime, this needs to be balanced with compensating controls like regular vulnerability scanning or virtual patching and attack detection by using Web Application Firewalls (WAFs).

The Threat of Compromised Credentials

It's estimated that 50% of cyberattacks involve compromised credentials. The system of using usernames and passwords to gain access to websites is fundamentally broken, but it continues to perpetuate. For attackers, using compromised credentials is the simplest way in the front door. They want to expend the least amount of effort.

Compromised Accounts: The Dark Side of the Web

When we talk about compromised accounts, we're usually referring to end-user accounts. These are the accounts that everyday users like you and me have with various online services. When a major service like Yahoo! gets hacked, the stolen credentials can be used in what's known as credential stuffing attacks.

In these attacks, bots are configured to replace the variables of username and password with the compromised data. These bots can then attempt to gain access to other services using these stolen credentials. The scary part? These repositories of hacked usernames and passwords can be found on the dark web and sold to anyone willing to pay in Bitcoin. And they're not just sold once - they can be resold over and over again.

Sensitive and Privileged Accounts: A Hacker's Goldmine

Another type of account that can be compromised is a sensitive or privileged account. These are accounts that have administrative privileges over operating systems, databases, and network devices. If a hacker can gain access to these accounts, they can gain full control of a system or network.

A hacker might do this by escalating their privileges. For example, if a hacker gains access to a non-privileged account, they can then attempt to escalate their privileges by exploiting vulnerabilities in the system. This could involve identifying vulnerable software versions, researching known exploits, and then using these exploits to gain higher-level access.

Types of Attacks: Understanding the Threat Landscape

Now that we've covered the types of accounts that can be compromised let's move on to the types of attacks that can occur. For this, we'll use the Open Web Application Security Project's (OWASP) Top 10 list, which is the industry standard for categorizing application-level vulnerabilities and attacks.

The OWASP Top 10 includes:

  1. Injection
  2. Broken Authentication
  3. Sensitive Data Exposure
  4. XML External Entities (XXE)
  5. Broken Access Control
  6. Security Misconfiguration
  7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  8. Insecure Deserialization
  9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
  10. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

Each of these attacks represents a different way that a hacker can exploit vulnerabilities in an application or system. By understanding these attacks, we can better protect ourselves and our systems.


In the world of cybersecurity, knowledge is power. By understanding the types of accounts that can be compromised and the types of attacks that can occur, we can better protect ourselves and our systems. Remember, the first step towards protection is understanding the threats we face. Stay safe out there!