Study: Businesses don't grasp Web app security threats

Lack of understanding leaves businesses open to application-layer attacks

Businesses may unwittingly leave themselves open to application-layer attacks because they don't understand their networks lack defenses to deflect them, according to a study by Forrester Research.

"[M]ost enterprises are not even aware that their traditional network firewalls cannot protect against these attacks," according to the study Web Application Firewall Forecast: 2007 to 2010. The report says demand for Web application firewalls (WAFs) will increase over the next three years, then drop.

This lack of awareness may prove harmful to businesses because Web applications are rife with weaknesses, according to a report by Symantec on Internet security threats over the last six months of 2006. "Sixty-six percent of vulnerabilities disclosed during this period affected Web applications," according to the white paper Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Trends for July-December 06.

In addition, the same study says 77 percent of easily exploitable vulnerabilities affected Web applications.

The Forrester study differentiates between traditional firewalls that examine packets and WAFs that examine flows of packets that represent sessions with Web servers. "What many firms do not understand is how [WAFs] differ from a traditional network firewall," the study says.

Awareness of Web application threats may grow as businesses come into compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards for data security intended to protect credit card numbers and other personal data transferred during credit card checks and online transactions, Forrester says. These standards actually require WAFs as one of two options for protecting against unknown attacks on Web applications. The other option is reviewing the security of individual Web applications and fixing flaws, according to the Forrester study.

Businesses face a deadline in mid-2008 to comply with the PCI standards, and up until that point knowledge of Web application security and WAFs will grow, as will sales of WAFs, Forrester predicts. After that, sales of WAFs will dip because businesses will have complied, especially retailers that depend on use of credit cards to do business.

As businesses move their defenses to higher layers of the IP hierarchy, so do those looking to pilfer private data, Forrester says. "Attackers are also moving up the stack, with application layer and session layer attacks increasing in frequency and destructiveness - but traditional network firewalls don't help," the report says.

While many customers will buy stand-alone WAFs devices to meet these threats by mid-2008, gradually the functionality of these boxes will be absorbed by other equipment, Forrester says, such as application acceleration platforms and generalized security appliances. The analyst firm predicts some WAFs vendors will be bought up by larger networking firms. "This consolidation will further push prices lower as WAF gets included as part of a packaged network security or application delivery offering," the report says.

Forrester lists Breach Security, Citrix Systems, F5 Networks, Imperva, NetContinuum and Protegrity as the leading WAF vendors.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?