A web application firewall is essential software that protects your website from malicious requests and content, keeping your visitors safe and safeguarding your intellectual property, time, and resources invested in developing your website.
This firewall software is installed on the same server as your website, and it can protect against various types of attacks such as SQL injection, Cross Site Scripting (XSS), malicious file upload, directory traversal, and brute force attacks.
SQL injection involves unauthorized access to a database, which can result in reading sensitive information, adding harmful data, or even deleting the database, thereby destroying your entire website.
Malicious file uploads are usually targeted against websites that publish user-generated content, which can be defaced or used for phishing attacks.
Directory traversal attacks allow access to restricted directories and execute commands outside the web server’s root directory.
Brute force protection is another important feature of the web application firewall. This feature blocks repeated login attempts and is particularly useful when automated bots are hammering your website. The firewall can be configured to limit unauthorized login attempts to a specific number and then lock out further attempts for several months.
In addition to protecting against specific types of attacks, the firewall can apply generic rules using pattern matching to identify potentially malicious requests. This helps prevent 0-day attacks, which are already circulating but not yet identified by your firewall. Depending on your firewall type and subscription to its update service, your firewall can update automatically as new threats emerge, providing real-time protection for your website.
If you have a WordPress website, you can do a plugin search for “firewall” to get a list of these and other security plugins:
Once the firewall is configured, its continued effectiveness will depend on the timeliness of plugin updates. Letting firewall plugin updates lapse will leave your website in a vulnerable state. This is important because the updates will include protection against the latest cybersecurity threats.
Nathan Muller is the author of 29 technical books and over 3,000 articles that have appeared in 75 publications worldwide. He also writes articles, blogs and social media content for tech companies and their executives.