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Security in the Cloud as a Service By @LMacVittie | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

Web application security is, after all, a stack

Web Application Security in the Cloud as a Service

Web application security. Everyone knows how important it is (and if they don't, they should) and yet the complexity of managing services that provide it often result in, shall we say, less than holistic coverage of applications. At least that seems to be the case given some rather disturbing statistics around the rise of bots and malware, which can often be deposited thanks to some overlooked or obscure web application vulnerability. Some in the application itself, others in the platform (remember Apache Killer?), and still others in the protocols used by just about every web application in existence (HT to Heartbleed).

Web application security is, after all, a stack.

In fact, throughout the 21st Century, nearly half of the biggest (in terms of records exfiltrated) breaches were the result of an exploited web application vulnerability. The exfiltrated data ran the gamut from credentials to personal information to credit card numbers.

At the same time, everything seems to be taking a back-seat to speed of application deployment. More than 9 out of 10 executives reported they face increased pressure "to release apps more quickly" according to a CA and Vanson Bourne 2014 survey. Other survey and research shows the network is still in the way in this respect, taking much longer to push an app through the production pipeline than organizations would like. 39% of respondents say "slow manual processes to reconfigure infrastructure to accommodate change" and 31% "slow provisioning of new applications" are key IT pain points, according to EMA research.

To address these pain points, agile and DevOps approaches are expanding to include operationalization of network and application services, but rarely mention security. Some worry that applying agile development methodologies to security could be akin to promoting the deployment of minimal viable security policies. Fast, yes, but incomplete and only covering the most obvious of attacks. Leaving the application - and organization - vulnerable to attack.

And then you add cloud to the picture, which is like adding that 4th variable in a polynomial math problem. The complexity is exponential and often seems unsolvable. It's not just a matter of putting the protections into place for cloud hosted applications; it's also a matter of managing those protections in a completely different context - a new environment that may or may not be supportive of the security solutions needed to fully cover the app. Yet security professionals are still experiencing pressure to step up the pace with respect to deploying security as it relates to apps moving through the production pipeline and support apps deployed in cloud computing environments.

So basically the ultimate solution is something that's fast to deploy without sacrificing completeness, covers the entire application security stack and supports both on-premise and cloud deployed applications with equal alacrity. Oh, and it can't cost an arm and a leg, either.  Cost efficacy is important to cost-conscious C-everything-O's today.

One possible solution that meets all the criteria is web application security - as a service.

Security Meets SaaS with F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall

silverline waf protection againstF5 Silverline Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a subscription-based, cloud-hosted "as a Service" security solution. Based on BIG-IP ASM (Application Security Manager), recognized as the most scalable WAF on the market and deployed in more datacenters worldwide than any other WAF, F5 Silverline WAF allows organizations to remove the complexity of WAF management, increase the speed with which new policies are deployed, and keeps policies consistent for applications moving to - or from - the cloud.  synthesis-delivers-sdas-silverline

More importantly, perhaps, it keeps apps protected. After all, NSS Labs recommends BIG-IP ASM as a web application firewall based on tests that demonstrate 99.89% overall security effectiveness with minimal false positives (.124%). That may be why when we asked our customers how confident they were in being able to withstand an application security layer attack, 92% responded they were confident. Full-stack confident.

F5 Silverline WAF is supported by highly specialized security experts who build and maintain web application firewall policies to defend organizations against web attacks and help achieve regulatory compliance in a hybrid (across traditional and cloud) environments. Because it's based on BIG-IP ASM, it inherits technologies unique to F5, like iRules, which provides the flexibility and agility needed to respond to new attacks in real-time, and iApps, which enable organizations to operationalize application security in a way that emphasizes standardization of core security policies as a way to ensure consistency in an increasingly hybrid architectural world.

F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall joins F5 Silverline DDoS Protection as the second service available from our cloud-based application services platform. F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall extends F5 Synthesis' ability to deliver the Software Defined Application Services (SDAS) organizations need to defend and deliver applications to any one, at any time from any where. Because it's based in the cloud, it can extend its protection against bots, spiders, malware and attacks to applications in cloud environments and primary or secondary traditional data centers with less friction and impact on performance than would be required to extend an on-premise solution to applications deployed outside the same on-premise location.

The complexity and costs associated with replicating and enforcing consistent and proven web application security policies across traditional and cloud environments results in higher expenses and introduces latency into response time when faced with threats and extends timelines in order to maintain regulatory compliance. Organizations must choose between employing specialized IT security teams in-house—resulting in higher expenses and increased time to deploy policies—or offloading the complex WAF policy management and compliance to a service to drive efficiencies.

F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall enables IT organizations to meet the strict demands of corporate security policy and compliance without sacrificing consistency or speed by mitigating the complexity of web application security in not just in a hybrid cloud architecture, but in any architecture.


f5 silverline waf architecture

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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