Application Security

What is WAAP (Web Application and API Protection)

Welcome to the world of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP), an advanced security approach that is revolutionizing the protection of applications and programming interfaces. WAAP is a cutting-edge solution designed to safeguard modern web applications against digital threats and ensure the integrity and availability of systems.

The concept of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) refers to advanced security solutions and services for web applications that aim to protect both the applications themselves and their application programming interfaces (APIs) from vulnerabilities and cyber attacks.

These solutions are based on third-generation web application firewalls (WAFs) and have gained popularity as WAF vendors expanded their offerings to include additional security features such as API protection, malicious bot mitigation, and defense against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of modern web applications.

WAAP does not represent an entirely new technology but rather a set of security measures based on third-generation WAFs. Compared to legacy WAFs, third-generation WAFs are highly versatile and adaptable to hybrid and cloud environments.

In this sense, this article explores in detail the key components of WAAP and how they protect modern web applications.

Third-Generation WAF

Most people have heard of the term third-generation WAF, sometimes referred to as next-generation WAF. However, the terminology itself doesn’t offer much explanation regarding the differences from legacy WAFs.

The main difference lies in the detection mechanisms used. While legacy WAFs employ signature-based detection, requiring administrators to list thousands of signatures for potential attack patterns, third-generation WAFs utilize rule-based detection.

These WAFs can effectively detect and mitigate any attack patterns that match the established rules. This approach allows for precise and continuous protection, even as applications undergo modifications and updates.

Application Programming Interface (API) Protection

Modern web applications are rarely built as a single monolithic system. Instead, they are composed of various microservices, where individual functions are developed separately.

This distributed architecture allows for faster and easier modifications and updates, meeting the ever-evolving demands of users. In this context, the API plays a central role by interconnecting the microservices and providing a cohesive user experience. However, the significance of the API also makes it a target for malicious actions.

Therefore, API and microservice protection form the second pillar of WAAP solutions. This is achieved through various approaches such as customized configurations for third-generation WAF, generation of mTLS certificates, and analysis of the application source code for vulnerable dependencies.

Mitigation of Malicious Bots

Publicly accessible websites receive requests from various parts of the world, and many of these requests originate from bots. While some bots are used for legitimate automation, such as form filling and chat services, there are also malicious bots employed by malicious actors.

These automated bots can have various harmful purposes, such as disrupting the application’s functionality, sending spam, phishing, interfering with legitimate bots, conducting data mining, or even stealing sensitive information.

Therefore, mitigating malicious bots is a fundamental aspect of web application security today. WAAP solutions employ advanced detection techniques and constantly updated rules to filter out the majority of malicious bots.

DDoS Protection

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are a common form of cyber attack that do not require a high level of technical expertise. Currently, the size of botnets used in DDoS attacks is rapidly increasing, and these botnets are easily available at affordable prices, making DDoS a widely used tool by non-professional hackers.

DDoS protection is similar to mitigating malicious bots, as both types of attacks involve advanced filtering techniques. However, completely blocking a DDoS attack is challenging, so a load balancer is used to evenly distribute traffic among multiple servers, avoiding overloading a single server and ensuring the web service remains functional during the attack.

These are the key components of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP). These solutions provide an additional layer of security for modern web applications, protecting them against vulnerabilities, cyber attacks, malicious bots, and DDoS attacks.

How WAAP performs in these scenarios

By utilizing a third-generation WAF, rule-based detection, API and microservice protection, mitigating malicious bots, and DDoS protection, WAAP solutions help ensure the security and availability of web applications in an ever-evolving environment.

It is essential for organizations developing and hosting web applications to consider implementing WAAP solutions to strengthen the security and protection of their systems and data against increasingly sophisticated and emerging threats.

The rapid evolution of technologies and the growing sophistication of cyber attacks require advanced security measures to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of web applications and APIs.

In addition to the previously mentioned components, there are other important considerations in the context of Web Application and API Protection (WAAP). One of them is the need for regular updates and patches to keep systems protected against new vulnerabilities and known attacks. This includes continuous monitoring of the web application environment to identify potential security breaches and respond promptly to them.

Read too: Secure Coding Practices for Developers

Robust authentication and authorization principles

Another relevant aspect is the application of robust authentication and authorization principles. Proper user authentication and granting appropriate privileges are essential to prevent unauthorized access and malicious activities in web applications and APIs.

Additionally, encryption and protection of data in transit and at rest are crucial to ensure the confidentiality of transmitted and stored information by web applications. The use of SSL/TLS certificates and the implementation of appropriate encryption practices are crucial measures in this regard.

Log analysis and the implementation of intrusion detection systems are additional strategies to identify suspicious activities and respond to potential security incidents. Early detection of intrusion attempts and quick response to these threats can help minimize the impact of attacks and protect web applications and APIs from serious harm.

It is important to emphasize that Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) is a continuous and dynamic process. As new threats emerge and technologies evolve, WAAP solutions must adapt and update to maintain effectiveness in protecting web applications and APIs.

Collaboration with trusted and specialized cybersecurity vendors is essential to obtain best practices and updated solutions.

WAAP (Web Application and API Protection) in brief

In summary, Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) is a set of advanced security measures designed to protect web applications and APIs against vulnerabilities, cyber attacks, malicious bots, and DDoS attacks.

Through the use of technologies such as third-generation web application firewalls, rule-based detection, API protection, mitigating malicious bots, and DDoS protection, WAAP solutions provide an additional layer of security and help ensure the integrity and availability of web applications in an increasingly challenging digital environment.

As mentioned earlier, there are incredible tools available to assist in protecting our APIs. However, it is crucial to understand that security should not be solely attributed to these tools, but rather be considered and incorporated throughout the entire application development process. 

Raising the level of security

Below, we present a list of measures that, if implemented correctly, will elevate the level of security and maturity of the software:

  • Sensitive Data Encryption:

Utilize proper encryption techniques to protect confidential data during storage and transmission. This includes TLS (the successor to SSL), whether it be one-way encryption (standard one-way TLS) or, even better, mutual encryption (two-way TLS). Use the latest versions of TLS to block the use of weaker cipher suites.

  • Proper Authentication:

Make sure to use robust authentication methods such as access tokens, API keys, or certificate-based authentication to ensure that only authorized users can access the APIs.

  • Data Validation:

Thoroughly validate all requests received by your server. To validate input parameters, establish a strict schema that describes the allowed inputs for the system, and then submit the parameters to the defined schema. This validation approach allows developers to effectively manage malicious attempts to invoke the API.

  • Code Review:

Perform systematic code reviews to identify potential vulnerabilities or security loopholes in the source code. This is a highly effective way to identify vulnerabilities.

  • Monitoring and Activity Logging:

Implement monitoring systems that record suspicious or anomalous activities, enabling early detection of unauthorized access attempts or malicious behavior. By carefully logging and analyzing your logs, you gain comprehensive insights into system operations and events.

Therefore, it is crucial to establish an appropriate strategy for collecting, storing, and analyzing logs, ensuring that these records serve as valuable resources to enhance system security and facilitate issue resolution in case of incidents.

  • Anti-Automation Mechanisms:

Implement time restrictions and login attempt limits to prevent brute force attacks, where a bot attempts to guess passwords through various combinations. Additionally, utilize monitoring tools to analyze traffic and activities on your site to identify suspicious patterns or abnormal behaviors that may indicate an automated attack.

  • Have Highly Skilled Professionals on Your Team:

In summary, the presence of highly skilled security professionals plays an essential role in building secure APIs. They are responsible for protecting against threats, identifying vulnerabilities, implementing security best practices from the start, and effectively responding to incidents. Their expertise is vital to ensuring data security and user trust in the developed APIs.

In addition to WAAP, here at Conviso…

As we have observed throughout this article, in an increasingly connected digital world, the security of your applications is of paramount importance to protect your assets and ensure user trust.

Conviso specializes in application security and offers a comprehensive range of solutions and services that cover the entire AppSec lifecycle.

We have Conviso Platform, a SaaS platform that supports the entire secure development cycle, AST (Application Security Testing) tools to identify vulnerabilities, and managed services that directly integrate with the development pipeline, aiming to provide you with the peace of mind that your applications are protected.

Additionally, we offer training and ongoing capacity building in AppSec to strengthen the security culture within your development team.

If you are seeking a reliable and specialized partnership in application security, contact us, and let’s work together to ensure the protection of your applications.

Gabriel Luiz – Security Analyst
Beniwendel Honori – Cyber Security

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A team of professionals, highly connected on news, techniques and information about application security
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