Edge WAF (Web Application Firewall)

Edge WAF (Web Application Firewall)

From the concept of “firewalls” in building construction to Edge WAF in the digital world, the notion of a barrier has always been associated with protection and safety. The concept of Edge WAF embraces this very idea and amplifies it, creating a more secure environment for web-applications by stopping malicious traffic from infiltrating into the origin, thereby becoming the core of dynamic traffic.

With it standing all as a crucial pillar in web security, your digital assets should be protected against the rising waves of cyberthreats right? But how does Edge WAF even work, and how can you benefit from it?

In this article, we’re going to discover the specifics of Edge WAF and understand how it enhances origin security - present on the CDN layer. 

What is Edge WAF?

With the rapid shift towards cloud technologies and edge computing, Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) have seen significant adaptations, particularly the emergence of Edge WAFs. 

While a traditional WAF protects web applications from threats by monitoring, filtering and blocking HTTP traffic to and from the web application’s origin, Edge WAF takes this a step further by functioning at the edge of the network. 

The benefit? Being positioned on the edge network close to the end users, an Edge WAF can inspect traffic while keeping it as far as possible from the origin, ensuring optimal security. The Edge WAF's distinct location, further from the origin, enables it to implement predefined rules to effectively filter out malicious traffic. 

This positioning reduces the likelihood of malicious traffic reaching the origin, thereby significantly enhancing the security layer, especially in Content Delivery Network (CDN) environments.

This non-reliance on the origin-resources is what makes Edge WAF so useful.


What is the Purpose of WAF verse to Other Security Services?

Contrasting WAF with other security services like Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) or Network Firewalls is crucial to understanding its distinctive role. While IPS and Network Firewalls operate at the network level, a WAF operates at the application layer of the OSI model.

While Network Firewalls and IPS offer a broad spectrum of security, they are not designed to counter application-specific attacks like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection, and CSRF. Conversely, a WAF, particularly an Edge WAF, is tailored to detect and block these sophisticated, application-targeted attacks. 

A key factor of an Edge WAF is its ability to inspect both incoming and outgoing traffic - much like a traditional WAF. 

However, this bi-directional traffic inspection capability, coupled with its strategic edge network placement, makes an Edge WAF a formidable security service, especially in the context of a CDN. 

Features and Capabilities of an Edge WAF

Edge WAFs are highly capable and come equipper with several cutting-edge features:

  • Bi-Directional Traffic Inspection: An Edge WAF is capable of inspecting both incoming and outgoing traffic, enabling effective detection and prevention of application-layer threats. 
  • CDN Integration: By integrating seamlessly with a CDN, an Edge WAF can leverage the CDN’s distributed nature to provide protection closer to the source of threats. 
  • Threat intelligence: Advanced Edge WAFs can utilize thread intelligence to detect and block malicious IPs, thus proactively thwarting potential attacks. 
  • DDos Mitigation: Edge WAFs can identify and mitigate DDos attacks by inspecting traffic patterns and volumes, and blocking traffic from identified malicious sources. 
  • Predefined Rule Implementation: Predefined WAF rules can be implemented to identify and block specific types of malicious traffic, increasing the effectiveness of the WAF layer.

WAF Under Multi-CDN Architecture

In a multi-CDN architecture, managing security across various CDNs can be a complex task. Relying on individual Edge WAFs provided by each CDN is often ineffective. Configuring WAF rules to ensure identical performance across different CDNs is almost an insurmountable challenge. 

Moreover, each Edge WAF can only monitor the traffic flowing through its respective CDN, rendering it blind to the traffic in other CDNs. 

To address these challenges, the viable solution is to employ a third-party WAF. However, this adds an extra tier to the architecture and may adversely affect performance.

Whether the WAF is provided by a third-party service or by the CDN itself, it can effectively inspect and filter traffic, blocking threats before they reach the web application. 

Through this “functioning at the edge” approach, an Edge WAF can respond to threats swiftly and efficiently, thereby offering superior CDN security. This also allows for redundancy for dynamic content, ensuring an uninterrupted, secure user experience. 

Today, beside the Virtual Edge of IO River there is no solution for Edge WAF which runs on multiple Edge providers.


In essence, Edge WAF is an innovative solution for enhancing security in the modern cloud and CDN environment. It’s redefining norms of web application security. 

Whether it’s protecting from application-specific attacks, mitigating DDoS threats, or integrating seamlessly with CDNs, Edge WAFs showcase why they are at the forefront of application security solutions.

Published on:
December 28, 2023
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