ARTICLE

WAAP Buying Guide

Unseen Threats Just Got a Lot Less Threatening

RELATED CONTENT

Prevent Account Takeover Fraud and Keep Customer Trust

Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) Buying Guide eBook ›

Learn how effective and easy-to-operate Web App and API Protection can preserve business agility and customer experience to shift the perspective of security from a cost center to a digital differentiator. 

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INTRODUCTION

New decentralized computing architectures based on clouds, containers, and APIs are fueling a new generation of digital innovation. However, these dynamic, distributed environments also expand the threat surface and increase opportunities for compromise, downtime, and abuse that leads to fraud. Learn how effective security solutions protect legacy and modern apps from exploits and abuse while reducing operational complexity and optimizing the customer experience.

How Did We Get to Web App and API Protection (WAAP)?

The web application security market has evolved to keep pace with the new digital economy. While the web application firewall (WAF) has proven to be an effective tool for mitigating application vulnerabilities, a proliferation of APIs and advancements in attacker sophistication has sparked a convergence of WAF, API security, bot defense, and DDoS prevention into WAAP solutions to protect apps from compromise, downtime, and fraud.

A highly competitive digital landscape has led organizations to embrace modern software development to get ahead in the market, resulting in rapid release cycles to introduce new features and a mashup of integrations, front-end user interfaces, and back-end APIs. While it is not a weakness or defect to have a shopping cart or loyalty program, the endpoints that facilitate commerce and customer engagement are a prime target for attackers, requiring that all user interaction and business logic be protected from software vulnerabilities as well as inherent vulnerabilities that exploit logon, create account, and add to cart functions.

Today, customers have unprecedented choice and low tolerance for bad experiences. Any security incident or friction when transacting may result in revenue loss and even brand abandonment.

The new digital economy thus requires a new era in web application security to safely unleash innovation, effectively manage risk, and reduce operational complexity.

Why the Pressing Need for WAAP?

Innovation and widespread adoption of cloud has led to an array of architectures and interdependencies between application components. Traditional three-tier web stacks and legacy apps are being retrofitted or even replaced with modern apps that leverage decentralized architecture such as containers and microservices to facilitate API-to-API communication. Cloud-native toolkits and business continuity have driven the adoption of multiple clouds. Easily accessible mobile apps and API integrations that speed time to market are key to maintaining competitive advantage in a market defined by continuous digital innovation.

Architectural decentralization, agile software development, and third-party integrations have increased the threat surface and introduced unknown risks, necessitating renewed focus on Shift Left principles such as threat modeling and ensuring that security and access control policy can be deployed and maintained consistently across architectures. In addition to mitigating exploits and misconfiguration, InfoSec must now protect their CI/CD pipelines, secure open source components, and defend their apps from automated attacks that abuse business logic.

Customer and Revenue Growth

Organizations that consistently deliver secure digital experiences will achieve customer and revenue growth.

Competitive Advantage

Cybersecurity incidents and customer friction are the biggest risks to digital success and competitive advantage.

Expanded Threat Surface

Architectural sprawl and interdependencies have dramatically expanded the threat surface for sophisticated attackers.

What Makes for Good WAAP?

Due to the complexity of securing web apps and APIs from a constant onslaught of exploits and abuse, cloud-delivered as-a-Service WAAP platforms are growing in popularity. These platforms have emerged from a variety of vendors, including CDN incumbents, application delivery pioneers, and security vendors that have expanded into adjacent markets through acquisition.

Effectiveness and ease-of-use are often cited as key buying criteria for WAAP but are subjective and difficult to verify during vendor selection.

A more practical approach is to define and group WAAP value propositions into table stakes, short list capabilities, and differentiators to help organizations make the most informed choice.

     

 

Table Stakes Short List Capabilities Differentiators
Easy onboarding and low maintenance monitoring

 

Positive security model with automated learning

 

Visibility and consistent security across apps and APIs

 

Comprehensive security analytics

 

Behavioral analysis and anomaly detection

Maximum detection rate (efficacy)

Sophistication beyond signatures, rule, reputation

 

Evasion countermeasures

 

Minimal false positive rate
API discovery and policy enforcement
False positive remediation

Transparent protection that reduces CX friction

 

Scalable bot and DDoS protection
Integration with security ecosystems and DevOps tools

 

 

Easy to use, operate, and integrate

 

 

 

What Makes the Best WAAP?

Best-in-class WAAP helps organizations improve their security posture at the speed of business, mitigate compromise without friction or excessive false positives, and reduce operational complexity to deliver secure digital experiences at scale.

Improve security posture at the speed of business

  • CI/CD pipeline integration
  • Dynamic API discovery and enforcement
  • Automated protection and adaptive security

Mitigate compromise with minimal friction and false positives

  • Real-time mitigation and retrospective analysis
  • Accurate detection without strict security challenges
  • Resilience during attacker retooling, escalation, evasion

Reduce operational complexity

  • Mitigate risk of “shadow IT” and third-party integrations
  • Streamline security across data center, clouds, and microservices
  • Remove CDN, cloud, and architectural constraints to deploy security on-demand

The best WAAP delivers effective and easy-to-operate security on a distributed platform.

     

Effective Security Distributed Platform Easy to Operate
Real-time mitigation  

 

Visibility across clouds and architectures

 

Self-service deployment

 

Retropective analysis

 

 

 

Self-tuning security

 

Low friction

 

Consistent policy enforcement

 

Comprehensive dashboards
Low false positives

 

Drill-down contextual insights

 

 

The F5 WAAP Advantage

F5 WAAP adapts as apps and attackers evolve to secure customer experiences in the new digital economy.

Real-Time Mitigation

Robust security, threat intelligence, and anomaly detection protects all apps and APIs from exploits, bots, and abuse to prevent compromise, ATO, and fraud in real-time.

Retrospective Analysis

Correlated insights across multiple vectors and ML-based evaluation of security events, login failures, policy triggers, and behavioral analysis enables continuous self-learning.

Automated Protection

Dynamic discovery and policy baselining enable auto mitigation, tuning, and false positive remediation throughout the development/deployment lifecycle and beyond.

Adaptive Security

Autonomous security countermeasures that react as attackers retool deceives and convicts bad actors without relying on mitigations that disrupt the customer experience.

Distributed Platform

Declarative policy abstracts underlying infrastructure to prevent misconfiguration and deploys security on-demand where needed for consistent protection from app to edge.

Ecosystem Integration

API-driven deployment and maintenance that easily integrates into broader development frameworks, CI/CD pipelines, and event management systems.

Credential Stuffing Attack Example

 

Condition Identification

 

Abuse

 

 

Anomoly detection

 

 

Intent

 

 

Behavioral analysis

 

 

Origination

 

 

Stage 1 ML

 

 

Evasion

 

 

Stage 2 ML

 

Credential Stuffing Playbook


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