The Importance of a High-Performance WAAP in Today’s Threat Landscape (Part 2 of 2)

Part 2

Your website has a guardian, a digital superhero warding off online villains. But imagine if this guardian is sluggish or weak. Just like a low-performance Web Application and API Protection (WAAP), it could struggle against fast and ingenious attacks. In this second part of our series, we’ll uncover how these attacks can hobble our superhero, leaving your website exposed. We’ll also explore strategies to fuse the superhero’s might with your website, ensuring both remain unyielding.

Expanding upon our previous discussions [LINK to the previous blog] about the significance of high-performance WAAPs and their influence on security and performance, we’ll now dive even deeper. We’ll unveil the realm of Threats and the pivotal role of flexible integration solutions. We’ll illuminate how a high-performance WAAP can effectively achieve the delicate equilibrium between performance and security.

Threats and Performance

Imagine for a moment that a website is using a low-performance WAAP. Because it takes longer to inspect and filter incoming traffic, attackers can take advantage of this delay to launch a DDoS attack that floods the website with an overwhelming amount of traffic, causing the site to become unavailable. This slow WAAP won’t be able to keep up with the flood of incoming traffic, making the website vulnerable to attacks.

Now picture the website facing a brute-force or credential stuffing attack, where attackers systematically guess user passwords. If the WAAP isn’t performing efficiently, it might fail to detect and block these attempts, which gives the attacker more time to try different combinations and potentially gain access to the user’s account.

A high-performance WAAP is essential to effectively detect and thwart these attacks, safeguarding the website and user experience.

The Importance of Integration

Options for WAAP integration are critical for optimal performance and security. Integration should be supported across multiple technologies, including reverse proxies, API gateways, load balancers, ingress gateways and more. Deployment mode (out-of-path or inline) and location (network edge computing integration or near the application/workload) are also important factors that can significantly impact latency created by the integration option.

Obviously, the performance of a WAAP is also affected by the amount of data that needs to be inspected. Each integration form can inspect different parts of the request, such as the full URI, query parameters, headers, body and content type with different levels of inspection. Activating or deactivating certain WAAP capabilities can also affect performance.

Balancing performance and security are always a concern. The inspection of the full request, or only a part of the request, can have a significant impact on performance.

As attack methods become increasingly complex, a layered approach to security is crucial. To effectively protect an application network, different security measures can be implemented in each step where the request passthrough: Cloud Edge Computing, Company Network Edge, Internal Application network, until the nearer point of the workload (microservice) itself.

Each step presents its own unique security requirements. For instance, an out-of-path deployment at the cloud edge computing can stream (minimum latency induced) the security inspections and inspect only the URI, HTTP headers, and selected parameters. In contrast, an inline deployment at the microservice level can perform more in-depth inspections and protect data exfiltration.

To help optimize performance, it’s important to note that not all microservices require protection. Instead, they should be evaluated to determine which ones require the highest level of protection (Crown Jewels). One of the reasons is because each incoming request from a customer will average six internal requests between microservices; this can dramatically increase customer request latency.

Also, each layer of protection provides a different level of security. For example, a cloud security solution can sanitize traffic for common volumetric attacks before it reaches the edge. A WAAP can detect and block WAAP evasions and identify attackers using various attack vectors at the company’s network edge. Within the microservice, a WAAP can detect and block complex, multiple-encoded payloads on only selected sensitive parameters, detect and block manipulation of user IDs in an API business logic attack, such as a BOLA (Broken Object Level Authorization), rate limit access for each user ID and block any data exfiltration from the microservice. In terms of high-performance, the WAAP must scale automatically as required by the environment (horizontal AutoScaling) and with a very small footprint (a few tens of MB).

By distributing WAAPs across the data path (layered protection), optimizing them based on mass events attack far from the workload until more specific security inspection nearer to the workload to be more application specific, it will ensuring better performance and protect more efficiently against advanced threats.


To select the best WAAP for your organization’s security needs, consider the following criteria:

1.Accuracy and Effectiveness: Choose a WAAP that has a low false positive rate and high accuracy in detecting and blocking attacks. Assess the WAAP’s performance by considering its ability to manage stronger rules, such as those utilizing complex regular expressions or multiple conditions, as these can provide accurate detection of attacks with high efficacy.

2. Integration and Deployment: Look for a solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing infrastructure, including serverless, reverse proxies, load balancers, API gateways and the workloads. Additionally, ensure that the WAAP can be deployed in the most appropriate mode and location for your organization This allows you to implement a layered protection strategy, extending from the network edge to deeper microservices, maximizing security protection while minimizing latency impact. One more point, select a vendor that can address all integration options for a more consolidated security policy.

3. Performance: Ensure the WAAP can manage the required traffic volume and inspection capabilities without impacting performance. Consider factors such as the solution’s capacity to handle high request per second (RPS) rates, its scalability to accommodate future growth, and its ability to efficiently process and analyze incoming traffic. A high-performance WAAP will ensure optimal protection while maintaining the responsiveness and reliability of your applications and services.

4. Flexibility and Customization: Select a flexible solution that allows you to tailor security rules, policies, and configurations to your specific needs, ensuring a fine-tuned level of protection. However, it’s essential to ensure that these customizations can be implemented efficiently without introducing significant performance overhead. By striking the right balance between performance and customization, you can effectively adapt the WAAP to your organization’s unique security requirements while maintaining a high level of performance and responsiveness.

5. Security Expertise: Opt for a WAAP provider with deep knowledge in both security and performance optimization, ensuring they can effectively address evolving threats while maintaining optimal system performance.

By considering these criteria and selecting a WAAP that meets your organization’s specific requirements, you can protect against advanced threats and safeguard your critical business applications ensuring a best performance security inspection. Contact Radware to learn more about our industry leading WAAP solutions and how we can help you protect your business.

Click HERE to get more information about Radware’s 360 Application Protection suite and how we keep organizations secure and safe from cyberattacks. If you’d like to speak with a Radware cybersecurity professional and better understand how to protect your applications and infrastructure, reach out to us HERE. We’d love to hear from you.

Jeremie Ohayon

Jeremie Ohayon is a Senior Product Manager in application security with 20 years of experience in the High-Tech industry. With a master's degree in Telecommunications, he has a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the cybersecurity industry. Jeremie thrives on human exchanges and strives for excellence in a multicultural environment to create innovative cybersecurity solutions.

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