WAF vs Firewall – Comparison Between WAF and Firewall

WAF vs Firewall

In this post, we will learn about WAF vs Firewall, what does WAF mean, and how to distinguish between WAF (Web Application Firewall) and Firewall in a clear and concise manner.

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A Web Application Firewall, also known as an HTTP Application Firewall, implements a set of rules for an HTTP Conversation, including how to deal with typical vulnerabilities like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and SQL Injection. If you are searching for what does WAF mean, the WAF network, and its benefits, you are at the right place. Also visit Cloud Computing is Inevitable Future of Data Analytics.

Purpose of a Web Application Firewall

  • Firewalls are typically used to monitor network traffic and operate as an additional layer of defense by scanning all traffic at the site and securing the network against malicious bots and a variety of attack vectors.
  • WAFs, on the other hand, not only passively monitor activity but also proactively shore up flaws in web applications by constantly scanning for vulnerabilities. WAFs also frequently discover network issues long before the user notices them and repair them.
  • While a patch may not provide a long-term solution, it does allow the user time to resolve the problem and prevents network breaches.

Benefits of Web Application Firewalls(WAFs)

Let’s take a look at the advantages these WAFs can provide to users and why having them on the site is a fantastic long-term investment.

  • WAFs Enforces Compliance

WAF ensures that data is rigorously adhered to HIPAA and PCI requirements, ensuring that data is well-organized and preventing any possibilities or flaws that could allow hackers to launch attacks.

  • To stop customer data from being compromised

WAFs, ensure that client information is protected from harmful attacks and potential vulnerabilities.

  • Prevents attacks

WAFs protect against SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS) assaults, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by performing effective monitoring, running security tests, and developing patches for weak points.

  • Saves Resources

By automatically executing security tests and monitoring traffic, WAFs save the user a lot of time and effort.

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Differences Between WAFs and FirewallsWAF vs Firewall

Now, let’s get down to business, defining the essential distinctions between a WAF and a firewall.

Both Function in Different ways

As we all know, a firewall is managed in a network, whereas a WAF is typically deployed near an application. However, there is a significant difference in their functionality: a WAF focuses on ensuring application network traffic security, whereas a Firewall focuses on protecting and monitoring traffic on a network.

Both are placed in Different Locations of the Network

A firewall is typically installed near the network’s edge, acting as a barrier between known and trusted networks and any unknown networks. A WAF, on the other hand, is positioned in front of applications and servers, allowing it to provide protection against any threat aimed at servers. This is an important distinction to note between a firewall and a WAF.

Both offer protection against different kinds of threats

Standard firewalls are designed to reject or accept access to networks, preventing illegal access. Examples of firewalls include banning pornographic or dubious content from school computer laboratories and logging to a LAN of computers in a computer lab. WAFs are primarily used to protect HTTP/HTTPS applications and servers against threats such as SQL Injection, DDOS assaults, and XSS or cross-site scripting attacks.

Both Concentrate on different layers of the OSI Model

The OSI Layer depicts the inner workings and functionalities of a typical network and is considered the network’s bible map. Layer 3 (network) and Layer 4 (Transport) of the OSI model are the focus of firewalls. Layer 3 is concerned with the transfer of packets between nodes in the network, while Layer 4 is concerned with the transformation of data to a destination host via a source. WAF’s main focus is on layer 7 (Applications), which is the layer closest to the user. Layer 7 is often the program or interface through which the user interacts with the network. In WAF vs Firewall, this is the very basic difference.

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Both differ in the amount of access control offered

Because the objective of the WAF is to prevent assaults on apps by monitoring the network, rather than restricting accesses, WAFs do not focus on access control or access restriction, whereas access control is the core function of a firewall. These settings are frequently adjusted to meet the needs of individual users, and firewalls are frequently implemented to restrict access to folders, websites, and networks to only those with the appropriate credentials.

Firewalls and WAFs run different Algorithms

Because firewalls and WAFs are designed and function differently, people expect them to run distinct algorithms, which is correct. Anomaly Detection Algorithms, Heuristic Algorithms, and Signature Based Algorithms are all implemented in WAFs. Standard Firewalls, on the other hand, use Proxy Algorithms, Packet-Filtering Algorithms, and Stateless/ Stateful Inspection Algorithms.

Both have DDOS protection in Different areas

Denial-of-Service (DDOS) assaults are a type of attack that renders a network inoperable. This type of attack does exactly what it says on the tin: it blocks access to a network by flooding access points with excessive traffic. While the area of protection provided by each of these Firewalls changes, each gives some protection against DDOS attacks. Because WAFs are primarily concerned with applications, their DDOS protection focuses on the application layer, which corresponds to Layer 7 of the OSI model. Standard Firewalls, on the other hand, protect against Layers 3 and 4 of the network layer.

Both Have different modes of operation

As per WAF vs Firewall, The WAF functions in two different modes, which are listed below.

  • Passive Mode: Pass WAF functions passively, that is, without taking any action, rendering the application network insecure. It should only be used for testing purposes.
  • Active Inspection Mode: In Active Inspection Mode, a WAF continuously scans for threats and provides protection against them.
Standard Firewall also operates in two modes
  • Routed Mode: A Routed Mode is the Firewall’s primary mode, which operates at Level 3 and executes static and routing protocols, much like a network router.
  • Transparent Mode: This mode only operates on Layer 2 and enables for transparent data flow owing to interface bridging, entirely bypassing Layer 3.
Both Have different Levels of application Protection

They differ in terms of design, function, and place of operation. At the application level, both WAF and Firewall offer distinct types of protection. Because Firewalls function at Levels 3 and 4 of the OSI Model, their focus of protection allows them to pay little attention to the application level, allowing them to focus on data transfer between networks. A WAF’s primary function, on the other hand, is to protect the network’s application layer (level 7) and thus provide security to the entire application layer of the network. This application layer includes applications, servers, software, and interfaces with which the user has direct network access.

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Both Have Different Use cases

WAFs are implemented in zones that have internet access, protecting HTTP/HTTPS apps and servers, because the protection supplied by each of these Firewalls has a particular use case. The application or server’s security is the main focus of its protection. Traditional Firewalls are functional, but they generally offer protection at basic levels of the network, whereas Firewalls are usually geared to protect individual users as well as networks of persons (such as LAN or individual network). This is why WAF is used in conjunction with a firewall to provide additional security against different tiers of the network. A network becomes more powerful and secure when multiple firewalls are active.


Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and Standard Application Firewalls (SAF) operate in fundamentally different ways and are designed to provide users with safe and reliable network architecture. You learned about WAF vs Firewall, what does WAF stand for, and WAF network. These distinctions will assist consultants in providing the finest scenario and executing design in the organization.

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