AWS WAF : The Cloud’s Most Trusted Security Solution

Every business wants to grow, and security is its top priority. Thanks to digitalization and different services that are helping businesses in improving the complete safety of their AWS setup.

AWS WAF is a top-notch security system when it comes to protecting applications from various attacks. AWS WAF is a compelling and valuable solution concerning securing our applications and infrastructures. Let’s dive into this article to find out more about AWS WAF !

What is AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) and How Does It Work?

What is AWS WAF?

AWS WAF, or Web Application Firewall, protects your web applications or APIs from widespread exploits that could disrupt availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources.

AWS WAF gives you control over the traffic that enters your applications by letting you create security rules that block widely used attack vectors like SQL injection and cross-site scripting, as well as rules that filter out particular traffic patterns you define.

Any client-facing web application is open to several security threats, such as malicious bot requests, SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting, DDOS, Remote Command Execution, and others.

To safeguard against such assaults, applications should be set up behind a web application firewall. AWS WAF constantly monitors HTTP and HTTPS web requests and, in the event of a malicious request, either blocks or counts the bid following rules configured to ensure the application's security.

How Does the AWS WAF Work?

  1. 1

    Let You Control Traffic 

    By creating security rules that block well-known attack vectors like SQL injection and cross-site scripting as well as rules that block specific traffic patterns that you define, AWS WAF from Amazon Web Services enables you to control the traffic that accesses your applications. 

  2. 2

    You Can Manage Rules

    You can get started immediately by using the preconfigured rules managed by AWS or AWS Marketplace Sellers, known as AWS WAF Managed Rules.

    The WAF Managed Rules cover a variety of subjects, including the Top 10 Security Risks, according to OWASP. These rules are frequently revised as new issues arise.   

  3. 3


    AWS WAF only charges you for what you actually use. The cost is determined by the number of rules you use and the volume of requests made by your app.

    No commitments in advance have been made. Installing AWS WAF on Amazon CloudFront allows you to use it as an API Gateway for your APIs, as an Application Load Balancer in front of EC2-powered web or origin servers, or as part of a CDN solution.

What Are the Main Features of the AWS WAF?

The following are the main features of AWS WAF:

AWS WAF Bot Control

AWS WAF Bot Control is a managed rule group that provides visibility and control over common and large-scale bot traffic that may consume too many resources, skew metrics, disrupt operations, or engage in other undesirable activities.

Common bots, such as search engines and status monitors, as well as pervasive bots, such as scrapers, scanners, and crawlers, can be blocked quickly or have their rates limited.

To protect your applications, use the Bot Control managed rule group in conjunction with other Managed Rules for WAF or your own custom WAF rules.

Filtering of Web Traffic

You can create rules to filter web traffic using AWS WAF based on parameters like IP addresses, HTTP headers, bodies, or custom URIs.

You now have a second line of defense against web attacks that try to exploit flaws in web applications you own or that belong to third parties.

Furthermore, AWS WAF makes it simple to create rules that thwart common web exploits like SQL injection and cross-site scripting.

Accessible Using APIs

The full management of AWS WAF is possible through APIs. Consequently, rules can be created, updated, and integrated into the development and design process automatically for organizations.

AWS Firewall Manager Integration

Multiple AWS accounts can use AWS Firewall Manager to manage and configure AWS WAF deployments centrally. When developing new resources, you can ensure they adhere to security standards.

Firewall Manager automatically checks for policy violations and notifies your security team, allowing them to respond quickly and take the necessary action. 

Monitoring & Logging

When configuring web ACL, in addition to Cloudwatch and CloudTrail logging, AWS WAF web ACL traffic can also be recorded, enabling thorough monitoring of web requests made for a particular resource on AWS.

What Are the Advantages of Using AWS WAF?

Are you curious about the benefits that AWS WAF offers? Hope on and read the advantages of using AWS WAF below:

  • Increase Web Protection Against All Web Attacks 

    No doubt, applications give you a vast audience; any company using them can grow their operation. However, they are highly vulnerable to web attacks.

    Therefore, protecting your application against all web attacks is the main advantage of using it. AWS WAF ensures that your web application is completely protected from any random web attacks, bots, and all kinds of viruses. 

  • You Can Manage Your Own Rules 

    The most significant benefit of using AWS WAF is that it allows you to create and deploy your own rules to enhance the security of your web applications.

    Every web application faces different problems from others; its development team knows what the issue is and how to manage it.

    When developers have the ability to customize the rules as they want, they can resolve issues by creating their own rules and increasing web application security. 

  • Better Visibility of Web Traffic 

    Using AWS WAF for your web application can filter and reroute high-quality web traffic to your application, which is a significant advantage.

    AWS WAF is made to provide the best possible service to your web application, and by preventing unwanted traffic, they can focus on providing services to their intended audience.

  • Cost-Effective Protection of Web Application

    Even if you design the best application ever, it will never perform to its full potential if it is constantly under attack by bots.

    Your application is protected from and completely free of bots thanks to AWS WAF, enabling the full performance of your web application without costing a fortune. Protect your web application from external attacks affordably. 

What is the Difference Between AWS Shield and AWS WAF?

Comparison Criteria

AWS Shield



AWS Shield, a managed security service, protects your web applications running on AWS from distributed denial-of-service attacks.

The AWS WAF protects your web applications or APIs from the majority of common cyber threats and attacks.

osi layer

If you choose Shield Advanced, it functions in the Network Layer (Layer 3), Transport Layer (Layer 4), and Application Layer (Layer 7) as well.

It Functions At The Application Layer (Layer 7).


AWS Shield offers two pricing options:

Shield Standard: Automatically activated and free of charge.

Shield Advanced: It carries a cost when used; this is disclosed in the product description.

There Is A Cost Associated With Using WAF, And The Level Is Not Always Raised Automatically.

use cases

It primarily protects against distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS).

It Defends Against Widespread Web Assaults Like SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting, DDoS, And Others.

How To Use AWS WAF With Amazon CloudFront?

When creating a web ACL, you have the option of specifying one or more CloudFront distributions that the AWS WAF should check out.

Those distributions begin to have their web requests inspected and managed by AWS WAF based on the criteria you define in the web ACL. Some of the features provided by CloudFront enhance the AWS WAF's functionality.

The configuration options for CloudFront that will enhance its compatibility with AWS WAF are discussed below:

  1. 1

    AWS WAF & CloudFront Custom Error Pages

     The HTTP status code 403 (Forbidden) is automatically returned when AWS WAF rejects a web request based on the criteria you specify, and is then transmitted to the viewer by CloudFront.

    The viewer next displays a succinct default message with a straightforward layout. Suppose you would instead display a custom error message through CloudFront, using the same formatting as the rest of your website.

    In that case, you can configure CloudFront to send the viewer an object (for example, an HTML file) that contains your custom error message. 

  2. 2

    AWS WAF with CloudFront for Apps Running On HTTP Server

    Using AWS WAF and CloudFront together can provide security for any HTTP web server, including those running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or privately owned servers.

     Additionally, you can configure CloudFront to require HTTPS connections from users and between CloudFront and your own web server.

How to Improve the Security of Your Web Applications Using AWS WAF?

Creating web applications by using AWS WAF is exciting and straightforward. However, how can you make sure that the web application you developed is safe and that no data is leaked into the wrong hands? 

Web application attacks have been the most common cause of breaches in recent years, increasing the importance of web application security. AWS WAFs are now a required component of web application security.

AWS WAF offers web application security by defending online services against damaging security intrusions like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

They provide protection against web application vulnerabilities as well as the ability to tailor security policies to each application. Because WAF is in sync with traffic, a load balancer easily performs some WAF functions.

In order to protect online applications from threats like denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, WAFs identify and remove potential threats. HTTP traffic is inspected by WAF security before it is sent to the application server. 

Final Words

In the end, AWS WAF is the essential pillar of AWS security. In this post, we've briefly introduced AWS WAF, how it works, what benefits it offers to businesses, how it is different from AWS Shield, and a lot more.

You probably have an idea of how AWS WAF can help make your application more secure. 

In this tech age, businesses are growing at their peak, and so are security concerns. This is the reason why every company is going toward integrating high-level security into business environments, especially those running in the public cloud.

If you're the one that wants to integrate high-level protection into your applications, then AWS WAF is the way to go. AWS WAF offers exceptional security to strengthen the cloud firewall and assure that your application is safe from the threat of malicious attacks.


What are the types of WAF?

There are 3 main types of WAF:

  • Cloud-Based WAF
  • Software-Based WAF
  • Hardware-Based WAF

Can WAF protect database?

Yes! WAF protects database and against Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 threats and other threats,

Can WAF prevent ransomware?

Yes! Preventing ransomware with WAF is the best way to avoid your site being compromised. WAF blocks unwanted or threatened traffic from entering the site.

It can automatically block traffic with unknown or bad IP addresses and also provide strong security to the admin and login pages of the site. 

Is WAF better than firewall?

A firewall defends the application against a wider range of traffic, while WAF only defends against particular traffic. A firewall alone can’t protect the business from a serious threat from webpage attacks; for that, you’ll need WAF security.

On the other hand, WAF can’t defend systems against attacks at the network layer, but a firewall can. In short, firewalls and WAF both complement each other. Having both solutions is your best bet if your company operates web-based systems. 

IWhat is the alternative to WAF?

The following are the best alternatives to WAF:

  • Cloudflare
  • Barracuda Web Application Firewall
  • Microsoft's Azure Application Gateway
  • F5 BIG-IP

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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