Firewall vs WAF – Difference Between Firewall and WAF?

Businesses must understand what security protections they have against modern cyberattacks. This is especially true for firewalls. Both web application firewalls and network firewalls can protect organizations against different types of attacks. Therefore, it is essential to know how a network firewall differs from an application firewall and how to protect against web attacks and broader network attacks.

Businesses have always protected their users and data with network firewalls. However, these firewalls lack transparency and flexibility to guard against modern security threats. But the growth of bringing your device (BYOD), public cloud, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions mean they need to add a web application firewall (WAF) to their security strategy. This protects web applications from being attacked. They are stored on remote servers and delivered via a browser interface. Unfortunately, hackers love these web applications.

Difference Between Firewall and WAF

Basic Difference Between Firewall vs. WAF

The firewall protects all company’s internet traffic. The WAF, however, is more focused on protecting web apps. This is understandable as there are many threats, and the firewall blocks only those that it knows about.

The WAF will, however, be more specific in what it blocks. It can also make sense of which applications should be allowed through the firewall.

Although such a desirable solution, vendors will need to find new approaches and technologies that fit within existing protocols and frameworks for networking and application services.

Image by Cloudflare

Difference Between Network Firewall and Web Application Firewall

  • Network Firewall operates at the 3rd and 4th layers of OSI Layer Architecture, while WAF operates at the 3rd through 7th layers of OSI Layer Architecture.
  • Network firewall uses Layer 3 gateway deployment architecture. In addition, WAF uses reverse proxy deployment architecture.
  • WAF and Network Firewall both have the same Access control granularity, Port, Protocol and IP address.
  • Network Firewall does not have any Threat detection/prevention methods. However, WAF has Signatures, Protocol anomaly detectors, and app-specific anomaly detection tools.
  • A Network firewall covers all protocol types, while WAF covers Web-centric protocols such as HTTP(s), XML and SOAP.
  • Network Firewall does not offer the SSL/encrypted Traffic Inspection, but WAF does.
  • Network Firewall provides DDoS protection for Network Layer while WAF offers it for the Application Layer.
  • Network Firewalls offer minimal protection for Web applications, while WAF provides extensive protection that includes full application layer coverage.

Difference Between Network Firewall and Web Application Firewall