The online world seems to become more dangerous with every passing minute. There’s always some news channel reporting about a company falling victim to a cyber attack as thousands of their users and clients’ personal information were leaked. Luckily, there are viable options for staying safe online and keeping up with cybercriminals.

The term “firewall” is thrown around everywhere and most of us know firewalls are necessary for protecting our information online. Alongside the one meant for computers’ incoming and outgoing connections, there are also web application firewalls, or WAF’s. A WAF stops online attacks against these applications, ensuring businesses’ services remain functional and that sensitive data is kept safe. Here are five threats that WAFs can help deal with.

DDoS Attacks

DDoS, otherwise known as denial of service, is used to temporarily or permanently disrupt the services of a host connected directly to the internet. This is usually done by flooding a target with an enormous barrage of irrelevant information. This is repeated until the service can no longer function properly because of a lack of resources to complete all of the requests. The actual service isn’t down, per se. Instead, it simply can’t keep up with the overflow of information.

Most of the time, this is important for large servers hosting an online service. We frequently hear about users losing access to their accounts after a DDoS attack has affected a video game, like World of Warcraft. The premise of this practice spreading to other venues is frightening. However, having the option to protect against these types of attacks is where we can get a sense of relief.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a method in which a person, or group of people, attempts to steal valuable information by way of a falsified form online. Users think they’re entering their email address and password on a well-known site such as Facebook for example, but they’re actually filling out a fake form made by some criminals. Once they hit enter, they automatically send the data to these individuals.

These attacks put users and companies alike in a vulnerable spot, but they’re so easy to prevent. Some simple verification of established connections is key to squishing this one and this is how WAFs come into play.


This technique is used to trick users into clicking something they don’t mean to, which can result in the loss of confidential information. There are even situations where this can lead others to take complete control over users’ devices. Misclicks can put users at extreme risk for merely browsing the web or using certain web applications.

Although there are many tools that can help keep these attacks to a minimum, nothing beats a program or extension that monitors situations such as this. The best way to prevent this is with firewalls tailored to specific scenarios.

Ad Fraud

Also known as invalid traffic, ad fraud replicates organic clicks and user responses to advertisements online. Banner, video, and application ads are generally the most affected ads. When these attacks are successful, companies lose out on large sums of money. Even though this might not sound like something that would affect users directly, it’s important to note that this sort of tampering still puts their data at risk.

In fact, anything that can modify users’ online footprint is putting them at risk. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.


Any software that forces a user to pay or supply its creator with some sort of recompense is called ransomware. While web application firewalls aren’t built to remove or fix the issue once it’s started, they can play a part in preventing it. As the overall online interface becomes more and more complicated, programmers with ill intent can weave their harmful code into a larger variety of applications.

As we’ve mentioned before, detecting incoming and outgoing connections is key to identifying what, exactly, we’re dealing with. A firewall built-in to certain applications and browsers can keep dangerous programs and sets of codes at the gate. If nothing gets in, there will be no legitimate attacks.

To sum it up, you should stay as safe while surfing the web as while riding a bike – think of WAFs as the necessary elbow and knee pads every bike rider needs when cycling around!

DDoS stock photo by igorstevanovic/Shutterstock