WAF Features MSPs Should Evaluate

WAFs vary in the technologies they use, features, and delivery. Evaluate each thoroughly to ensure you make the best choices for your clients and your business.

Web Application Firewall

With more of your clients doing business and providing services on the internet, a web application firewall (WAF) has become an essential part of a comprehensive security strategy. Web application firewalls address threats on various layers where communication – and cyberattacks – occur, unlike network firewalls that typically only protect the network and transport layers. However, how a WAF protects your clients’ websites and web applications can differ from product to product.

Evaluate these web application firewall features as you compare solutions to keep your clients and your business secure:

DDoS Defense

In a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, hackers flood a website or service with too much traffic, causing it to crash. Leading web application firewall features include measures to defend against DDoS exploits, such as:

  • Geoblocking: Traffic with IP addresses from specific countries or regions is prohibited.
  • IP and domain reputation: A web application firewall can block traffic from IP addresses or domains where spam or high traffic volumes originate.
  • Bandwidth throttling: WAF technology allows you to set request thresholds or rate limits to control traffic and prevent floods.
  • Request filtering: This function blocks the types of HTTP requests that can reach the server. It rejects requests based on preset rules.
  • Load balancing: This capability allows traffic to be rerouted from one server to another, making it harder to overload a single resource.

AI and Machine Learning

A significant cybersecurity challenge is stopping zero-day attacks. While blocking known attacks is relatively straightforward, zero-day attacks are not known. Instead, they exploit vulnerabilities that developers haven’t patched or, in some cases, haven’t discovered yet.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can analyze traffic to identify potentially harmful code, even if it’s part of a previously unknown type of attack. Web application firewalls with these features dynamically monitor traffic for atypical behavior or traits. Then, advanced systems evaluate the suspect code to determine if it’s a threat and stop it.

Machine learning and other forms of AI can also identify and stop unwanted bot traffic.


Although web application firewalls provide vital types of protection and mitigate risks, they are just a part of a comprehensive, layered approach to security. Evaluate any WAF you are considering for integration with solutions such as malware protection, authentication services via SAML, advanced DDoS prevention service, logging service, automation mechanisms, and public cloud services.

You may also want to ensure the WAF is integrable with a security information and event management (SIEM) solution for heightened visibility into events in your clients’ IT environments.

Scalability and Multitenancy

Your clients may need to protect an expanding IT environment, so ensure the web application firewall you implement can address their growing needs. Also, consider how easy the WAF solution will be for your team to manage, especially when providing security services to multiple customers.

More Web Application Firewall Features to Consider

In addition to the features of a web application firewall itself, also consider these factors when choosing the optimal solution:

  • Delivery – Web application firewalls are available in a variety of form factors. You can choose from appliance- or virtual appliance-based, public cloud instances or WAF as a Service, a hosted, cloud-based service managed by the WAF vendor. Choose the best method of delivery for the use case.
  • Pricing – Although you don’t want to base your decision solely on price, it’s crucial to understand how WAF billing will impact your client’s (and your) budget. For example, you may be charged based on back ends or user identities protected, throughput, cost of a perpetual license for VM solutions, or a monthly or annual fee for WAF as a Service. Ensure your team and clients understand charges and billing before executing a contract.

With data security now topping most businesses’ and enterprises’ priority lists, it’s vital to implement the right WAF. Read our Web Application Firewall Product Comparison for more information on WAFs available to you and your clients. 

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of Managed Services Journal (formerly XaaS Journal) and DevPro Journal.