Exploring the Advantages of Switching to a Cloud WAF

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The global cloud market has exploded in recent years, providing a scalable solution that businesses can utilize for storage and compute functions.


Alongside data storage and third-party database management technology, cybersecurity architecture is also moving to the cloud, with the vast majority of deployable tools now having a cloud alternative. With access to a larger pool of compute resources, a cloud WAF offers a more precise level of threat detection and prevention when compared to local models.


In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of switching to a cloud WAF, demonstrating why businesses around the globe are taking the leap to cloud cyber security technologies.

What is a Cloud WAF?

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a cybersecurity tool that monitors all traffic incoming to your applications. By intercepting and monitoring traffic, a WAF can better understand the intent of that traffic, blocking any connections that either seem suspicious or contain malicious content.


A cloud WAF serves the same function as an on-premises WAF but deploys on the cloud. By working from the cloud, a cloud WAF has access to numerous additional resources, offering them additional benefits like increased scalability, access to more threat intelligence, and automatic updates.


An on-premises WAF requires a business to manage its architecture on its own. This means that a company will need to employ cybersecurity staff that understand how to configure WAFs, their requirements, and how to ensure they stay updated to cover any emerging security threats.


On the other hand, a cloud WAF is typically managed by the cloud provider. This approach provides your business with much more flexibility, as you don’t have to manage and update hardware yourself. Equally, using a cloud WAF ensures you know exactly how much the service will cost you ahead of time. If you need to change the baseline architecture of your WAF, you will only need to contact your cloud supplier instead of having to pay for costly on-premise architectural changes.


Many of the distinctions between a cloud WAF and a traditional WAF mirror the differences between working with on-premises architecture vs. migrating your services to a cloud provider.


The Pros and Cons of Using a Cloud WAF


With businesses around the world understanding the power of cloud infrastructure, it’s no wonder that a similar movement is occurring in the world of cybersecurity. Businesses looking to enhance their security posture can move to cloud WAF solutions.

There are several advantages to using a cloud WAF:


  • Easy Management: When you change to using a cloud WAF, you no longer have to actually manage this part of your cybersecurity architecture. Any configurations or permissions changes you need to make can be done through your cloud provider, meaning you outsource something that would normally take time away from your security team.
  • Expertise: Outsourcing your WAF ensures that you get the privilege of working with world-class WAF experts. Those who manage your cloud WAF will have extensive knowledge of these systems, meaning you can access brilliant security teams to fortify your own defenses.
  • Access Scalability: If your business routinely experiences major changes in traffic, then the scalability of a cloud WAF could be the perfect solution. Often, cloud providers use pay-as-you-go or subscription-based models, meaning you can easily scale up or down your WAF services depending on your needs at any given moment.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Working with a cloud provider means that you give up responsibility for one small part of your overall cybersecurity defenses. With that in mind, cloud providers have to follow all of the most recent obligations set forth by major ruling bodies. Your cloud provider will follow regulatory suggestions, making this a breeze for your business.


This is far from an exhaustive list, with cloud WAFs also providing up-to-date threat detection, implementation with other cloud services, and around-the-clock monitoring.


However, whenever your business makes a major shift toward the cloud, you’ll also encounter new challenges that you didn’t have when using a local WAF. Here are some potential disadvantages of using a cloud WAF:


  • Pre-Customized Rule Sets: One of the most useful things when managing your own WAF is that you can create custom rule sets that specifically meet the requirements of your business. When working with a cloud WAF, you may run into limited options when it comes to customization.
  • Increased Latency: Depending on where the servers that a cloud WAF uses are, you could experience increases in latency when connecting to your applications. As traffic travels further to interact with the WAF, this could slow down your site and create performance issues down the line. That said, many cloud providers have distributed their servers across the globe, meaning there is likely to be one that’s close to you.
  • Vendor Contracts: When working with a cloud vendor, you should endeavour to read through the conditions of your contract. You may experience vendor lock-in, which is where you are unable to transfer out of using a cloud provider’s services, making this a potential pitfall of using a cloud WAF.


Whether a cloud WAF is right for your business will depend on how important these features are to you. Equally, you can take mitigative steps to overcome potential challenges, creating a smooth cloud web application firewall experience.


Choosing the Right Cloud WAF


As we’ve demonstrated, employing a cloud WAF can be a highly effective and economical way of increasing your company’s cyber defenses. However, many of the benefits of cloud WAFs are directly tied to the provider you choose.


If possible, you should look for advanced WAF technologies, like Web Application and API Protection (WAAP), that keep both web applications and APIs safe. As your business infrastructure grows, these modern solutions that cover as much of your architecture as possible will help defend you from cyber criminals and keep your data as safe as possible.



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