Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

9/22/2009
04:11 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

New Free Web Application Firewall 'Lives' In The App

Open-source project aims to put WAF control into application developers' hands

A researcher plans to release a free, software-based Web application firewall (WAF) that resides in the Web application.

The open-source ESAPI WAF is a departure from commercial, network-based firewalls, as well as ModSecurity's free WAF, says Arshan Dabirsiaghi, developer of the ESAPI WAF and director of research for Aspect Security. Dabirsiaghi will roll out the WAF at the OWASP Conference in Washington, D.C., in November.

"WAFs today are deployed as appliances meant to protect a suite of applications. They're kind of part of your network and not part of your application," Dabirsiaghi says. "This is really an application-layer WAF rather than a network or appliance-layer WAF...it lives inside your application so you have a lot more control as an application owner [who's] enforcing rules."

The ESAPI WAF isn't the first open-source (or free) WAF: ModSecurity, which is also a software-based WAF, was one of the first freebies. The ModSecurity WAF, which is an Apache module, runs outside the application on the server.

Dabirsiaghi says the Java-based ESAPI WAF is all about making it easier and cheaper to deploy a WAF, which can cost up to $200,000 to deploy in a commercial product, he says. "The whole point of a WAF is a short- to medium-term patching solution," he says. "Long-term, you want secure code. We want to give you a bridge between that gap when a vulnerability is exploited."

This puts the WAF in the hands of the application team rather than the network or security team. "I think it's better to decentralize that and have everyone maintain their own WAF," Dabirsiaghi says. "Application owners are hopefully discovering their own vulnerabilities, so the time to protection should be much shorter [for patching them]."

There are advantages and trade-offs with both the network and application-based WAF approaches, however. "From an operational perspective, a network device can be deployed without changing a standard system configuration. On the other hand, you have another physical device to manage -- and possibly fail, unlike software on the Web server," says Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat Security. "Also, network devices have to terminate SSL if the site uses SSL, while software WAFs do not."

Dabirsiaghi maintains that the application-resident WAF makes it easier to fix and stop nagging Web application security problems, such as business logic flaws. "If you have a WAF appliance that sits in front of a few different applications, there's a distance between you and the apps," Dabirsiaghi says. "Because the ESAPI WAF lives inside the app, it's easier to stop those types of flaws."

Among some of the features in the new WAF are egress/outbound filtering to help stop information-leakages vulnerabilities and cross-site scripting, he says.

Dabirsiaghi says the WAF simplifies things, such as adding an Internet Explorer 8 header for preventing clickjacking. "With a WAF in place, you open up a text file, add one line, and you're done. It's all configuration-driven versus code driven," he says.

But the ESAPI WAF doesn't detect new vulnerabilities. "This is not about preventing unknown vulnerabilities," he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-14230
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in the Viral Quiz Maker - OnionBuzz plugin before 1.2.7 for WordPress. One could exploit the id parameter in the set_count ajax nopriv handler due to there being no sanitization prior to use in a SQL query in saveQuestionVote. This allows an unauthenticated/unprivileged user ...
CVE-2019-14231
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in the Viral Quiz Maker - OnionBuzz plugin before 1.2.2 for WordPress. One could exploit the points parameter in the ob_get_results ajax nopriv handler due to there being no sanitization prior to use in a SQL query in getResultByPointsTrivia. This allows an unauthenticated/un...
CVE-2019-14207
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.11. The application could crash when calling the clone function due to an endless loop resulting from confusing relationships between a child and parent object (caused by an append error).
CVE-2019-14208
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.10. The application could be exposed to a NULL pointer dereference and crash when getting a PDF object from a document, or parsing a certain portfolio that contains a null dictionary.
CVE-2019-14209
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.10. The application could be exposed to Heap Corruption due to data desynchrony when adding AcroForm.