Inadequacies of WAFs in Fighting Sophisticated Automated Threats

March 27, 2017 Jaweed Metz

The recently released “Bot Defense” report provides a leading perspective for thwarting automated threats. The paper developed by the leading IT research firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) lays the foundation on the numerous threats posed by bad bots.

Key observations describe how automated threats from bad bots can attack user accounts in nefarious ways. These malicious attacks exploit API’s beyond normal application protection and out of scope of web application firewalls (WAFs).

WAFs are limited in scope and provide inadequate protection to match the sophistication of malicious threats. WAFs block some portion of bots, however are less effective against sophisticated bad bot attacks and cannot sufficiently defend against the OWASP automated threat list.

WAFs are purpose built and designed for application security with rule and policy based protections that do not scale against large scale bot attacks. Bots are designed to exploit a broad range of issues. For instance, bots can attack user accounts and logins in numerous ways, perform advanced reconnaissance, create man-in-the-middle attacks, perform data mining, and exploit APIs, all of which are beyond normal application protection and outside of the scope of WAFs.

User complaints and dissatisfaction with WAFs are primarily attributed to:

  • Cost/effort to deploy and manage relative to the benefits
  • Inadequate visibility to automated threats
  • Too many false positive alerts
  • Time consuming on-going management that requires regular tuning

To learn why traditional security WAF defense methodologies struggle to address automated threats and how advanced bot defense techniques can protect against malicious threats download the EMA Bot Defense white paper.

About the Author

Jaweed Metz

Jaweed Metz is the Director of Product Marketing at Distil Networks. Prior to Distil, Jaweed has a variety of marketing B2B experience with leading Enterprise (Cisco, HP Enterprise Security) and successful start-ups (Netsys Technologies, Motive) in Corporate, Product Marketing and Strategic Partnership Alliances. Jaweed is responsible for product positioning and messaging, sales enablement tools and content and developing and driving marketing strategy. He is also responsible for creating compelling content that resonates with customers such as blog posts, customer success stories, infographics, datasheets and white papers to help drive lead generation activities for the company.

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