What is AWS WAF( Amazon Web Application Firewall)?
Updated on 22nd Sep, 21 13 Views

When it concerns securing our applications and infrastructures, AWS WAF is a highly powerful and valuable solution. So, let’s go into the finer points of the WAF service. The following are the topics we are going to discuss through this blog.

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What is a Web Application Firewall?

The AWS WAF’s full form is Amazon Web Application Firewall. This is an application firewall that helps improve your privacy services or APIs from typical web vulnerabilities and chatbots that can cause downtime, damage privacy, or spend too much bandwidth.

It allows you to regulate traffic that hits your apps by allowing you to set safety rules that limit web traffic and stop various typical crime patterns. This can help minimize AWS WAF DDoS assaults and speed up your website when used in conjunction with a robust network and an IDS.

AWS WAF

You can also manage who has accessibility to your data using AWS WAF. The service connected with the secured site replies to access with required data or with an HTTP 403 code depending on criteria you define, including the IP addresses from which the request originated or the contents of query strings. You may also set CloudFront to generate a customized 404 error whenever a request fails.

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AWS WAF Pricing

You’ll be paid for every web ACL you build, as well as every rule you add to web ACL. Users will also be charged for the number of web requests processed by the web ACL. This pricing is consistent across all AWS regions.

This pricing is divided according to the resource type.

  • For Web ACL, the users have to pay $5.00 per month
  • The price is $1.00 per month for a rule.
  • And for Request, $0.60 is charged for every 1 million request

Since you have got an introduction to AWS WAF, let’s get into its features.

 

AWS WAF Features

The following are the features of the AWS Web Application Firewall. 

  • Real-time Visibility: It collects raw requests and offers real-time analytics, including IPs, geolocations, URIs, User-Agent, and Relevant individuals.
  • Full Feature API: It may be managed entirely using APIs. This enables businesses to instantly establish and manage rules, as well as include these into the design and development processes.
  • AWS Firewall Manager Integration: AWS Firewall Manager allows you to remotely create and maintain web application deployments over different AWS accounts. Users can guarantee that resources follow a consistent list of security policies as they are generated.
  • Web traffic filtering: It helps you build guidelines to clear out net site visitors primarily depending on conditions that consist of IP addresses, HTTP headers, and body, or custom URIs. This gives you a further layer of safety from internet attacks that try to make the most vulnerabilities in custom or third-party internet packages.
  • AWS WAF Bot control: It is a managed rule group that offers you permeability and manipulation with just a couple of clicks over commonplace and pervasive bot visitors that can devour overabundant assets, skew metrics, purpose downtime, or perform other undesired tasks.
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AWS WAF Architecture

Now, let’s take a look at the architecture of the AWS WAF firewall and understand the elements in it.

Amazon Web Application Firewall architecture has few concepts you need to know such as AWS Firewall Manager, Amazon CloudFront, Application Load Balancer, Amazon API Gateway, and AWS APPSync.

AWS WAF Architecture

Let’s get into details about these terms.

AWS Firewall Manager: AWS Firewall Manager streamlines the management and management of AWS WAF rules, AWS Shield Innovative safeguards, and Amazon VPC system services among numerous users and sources. Even though users introduce additional identities and services, the Firewall Manager service enforces its policies as well as other security measures throughout the profiles and assets.

Amazon CloudFront: Amazon CloudFront is strongly connected with the Web application firewall. You can use this in any CDN solution. Users can define one or more CloudFront deployments for  WAF to check when creating a web ACL. CloudFront has a few capabilities that complement the WAF capability.

Application Load Balancer: AWS WAF ALB is an elastic Load Balancing option that operates at the application level. It enables you to design content-based entry and exit which can traverse several containers or EC2 services.

Amazon API Gateway: An API gateway allows you to separate your client interface from your backend code. You can safeguard your API Gateway API with a firewall against common online exploits like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) assaults.

AWS AppSync: AWS AppSync is a comprehensive tool for deploying Cloud hosting GraphQL backends in the Aws platform. Amazon WAF integration for GraphQL APIs is now available in AWS AppSync, making it easy to defend your APIs from common online attacks.

As mentioned in the AWS WAF architecture image, there are three steps involved in this process which are as follows.

  • Create a policy: First, it allows users to create their own rules to filter the web requests using a visual rule builder. Users can define the rules that will be helpful for you to detect illegal access.
  • Block & Filter: Using the rules which users have created on their own, they can block or filter the web requests for each rule.
  • Monitor: WAF also allows users to monitor the access of any request. They can use Cloud Watch or Amazon Kinesis for monitoring.

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How Does AWS WAF Work?

Before understanding how AWS WAF works, you have to understand the elements of the AWS Web Application Firewall which are Web ACL, WAF conditions, and WAF rules.

Web ACL: A Web Access Control List (Web ACL) is a set of rules that offers you direct control over how an Amazon API Gateway API, Amazon CloudFront distribution, or AWS WAF Load Balancer reacts to web requests. A Web ACL can have up to 10 rules, and users can define if the firewall should allow or deny requests depending on the circumstances you apply to the rule.

WAF Conditions: The fundamental qualities that you would like WAF to look for in web requests are defined by conditions. Conditions such as IP match, string match, SQL Injection, and so on can be defined. To specifically focus the requests you wish to accept, prohibit, or count, you integrate conditions into rules.

WAF Rules: Conditions are included in rules. A request should meet parameters in all conditions to be granted or banned if users apply more than one condition to a rule. WAF Managed Rules are a simple way to implement pre-configured rules to defend your applications against common risks such as software flaws. AWS Marketplace security Suppliers automatically adjust all Managed Rules.

So, you establish your conditions, then integrate them into rules, which you then combine into a web ACL.

You can integrate your web ACL with one or more AWS resources after you’ve created it. An Amazon CloudFront distribution, an Amazon API Gateway REST API, an Application Load Balancer, and an AWS AppSync GraphQL API are all resource types that can be protected with WAF web ACLs.

In brief, you need to understand which resource you want to integrate and protect with WAF. Then, you need to create conditions according to it. These combined conditions are rules. You create rules and define your preferred action. After creating conditions and rules, you will then create a web ACL that will control the web requests of your resource or environment.

For you better understand, we are going to understand how to create a web ACL.

 

How to Create a Web ACL?

Now, let’s see a brief overview of how you can create a web ACL

Step 1: First, you need to sign up for Amazon Web Services(AWS). Then, your AWS account will immediately sign up for all AWS services, including AWS WAF.

AWS WAF - Web Application Firewall

Step 2: To start with Amazon Web Application Firewall, you can directly go to the AWS WAF page or you can set WAF & shield in the AWS console.

Step 3: Then you will land on the page as shown in the image below. Now, click on the “ Go to AWS WAF” option.

AWS WAF and AWS Shield

Step 4: on the AWS WAF home page, you can see the option “ Create a Web ACL”. Click on that.

Create a Web ACL

Step 5: Here, you need to enter “Web ACL name” and then Select “Region”.  Then enter Select “AWS resource to associate” in the dialogue box and then choose “Add” once you’ve determined which resource should be associated with the Web ACL. Then press “Next.”

Name Web ACL

Step 6: Then You must define the filter condition for your web ACL in order for your rules to work.

Create conditions

Step 7: Now, create rules. Using the conditions above, you can create a rule. Same as you can also define their activities such as Allow/ block/ count. And also click on a default action you need. Once you are done, click on “Review and Create”.

Create rules

Step 8: Finally, you will be redirected to review and create your page. Recheck your conditions and rules and then click on “Confirm and create”.

In this way, you can create a Web ACL.

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Benefits of AWS WAF

Now, as you have understood how to use AWS WAF. It’s time to take a look at the advantages of using it. The benefits of using Amazon Web Application Firewall are as follows:

  • This service makes it simple to set up and safeguard applications that are hosted on Amazon CloudFront of your CDN solution, the Application Load Balancer, Amazon API Gateway for REST APIs, or AWS AppSync for GraphQL APIs.
  • It defends web applications against threats by filtering traffic according to the rules you provide. Thousands of rules are supported by WAF, which may check any element of a web request with minimum delay implications on incoming traffic. So, AWS WAF latency is less. 
  • The dispersion and changes of AWS WAF rules take less than minutes, allowing you to swiftly improve security.
  • Managed rules are automatically synced as new implications arise, allowing you to focus additional time developing applications instead of worrying about security.
  • It also provides the best possible visibility into your web traffic, which you may use to develop new Amazon CloudWatch rules or alerts. You can monitor inbound traffic metrics using Amazon CloudWatch. Also, Amazon Kinesis helps to know the details of the web requests.
  • The WAF API or the AWS Management Console may be used to manage every functionality in WAF. As they create applications, the DevOps team can create software rules that improve web security.
 

Conclusion

Here, we have come to a conclusion about what exactly AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) is. AWS WAF can be summed up as the most important pillar of AWS security. We have also discussed its features, architecture, and elements. We understood how it works. We have also seen how to create a web ACL. At last, we have finished the blog by understanding its prominent benefits. 

If you still have any queries, please feel free to post them in our AWS community!

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