2017-05-05 14:14:00 UTC

F5 vs. Imperva WAF?


We are in the process of implementing a WAF, but we need to decide which WAF to acquire based on 3 main aspects:

1. Security: Which one offers the best response to known and 0 day threats?

2. Administration: Which one is more intuitive and easy to administrate?

3. Benefit vs. cost

 Thanks

Guest
1313 Answers
author avatar
Real User

Firstly, implementing WAF is an excellent decision. With application logic and date being at the core of the technology stack value, WAF is the most reasonable place to monitor application traffic and defend from hacker's attacks.

I have recently published a blog post on the issues one needs to consider when selecting a WAF.

In addition, here are some thoughts on the specific questions you are asking

Both F5 and Imperva are excellent WAF offerings with long track records and both will likely do a good job detecting known OWASP 10 threats. That said, both F5 and iMPERVA are signature based WAF technologies. For zero-day threats for which no signatures exist, no protection is provided until someone creates a signature and is able to write a rule for protection. For more agile 0 day threat protection you may want to consider a machine-learning driven solution which creates application-specific security rules automatically.

As far as administration is concerned, F5 natively integrates with the application delivery system (ADC) which makes deployment & routing administration easier.

The other aspect of the administration is addressing false positivies that WAF generates to avoid interfering with normal application operations. Because of false positives, many of the iMPERVA and F5 customers deploy these solutions in non-blocking mode with the main goal of providing visibility.

Deciding which detected incidents require action is what requires the bulk of administration by security experts with deep knowledge of web application code and web application security.

On the subject of costs and benefits, a lot of the benefits of the traditional WAF systems are centered around compliance. These are often hard to quantify but are the cost of doing business.

Other than that, costs of WAF, as with most security solution, come less from the cost of the licenses and more from the cost of administering the solution and putting in integrations with other systems to derive real benefits. Again, machine learning-based system can help here with an automated and continuous approach. Essentially such system performs the jobs of a Red Team and a Blue Team in AI.

Overall, both iMPERVA and F5 are good solutions, but before making your final decision consider if you want to go with a signature-based WAF or deploy a machine-learning driven solution like Wallarm.

2017-07-13 23:13:16 UTC
author avatar
Consultant

In order to achieve the core objective of a WAF (Web Application Firewall) definitely you are focusing on the External Facing application, for external facing application IMPERVA INCAPSULA has a high ratio of payload collector which identify and capture the payload entered by the malicious user without tempering the original content of a Payload. Once the paylaod has been captured, you can easily block the content appeared in the payload and this can be done automatically as well. Another good feature of this WAF is even if a malicious user is using NAT environment or Proxy based environment it will show the A.S (autonomous System) of the last region and also in some cases reveals the NAT IP Address from where the payload is actually captured.

2017-07-13 16:24:25 UTC
author avatar
Real User

Hi,

Follow below.
1. F5 has a protection to L7, but dont work as a sand-box.2. F5 has a nice GUI with many options to understand whats happen in real-time3. F5 isn't cheap but is cheaper than Imperva.
 Att,
Fernando Camargo

2017-07-11 17:28:06 UTC
author avatar
TOP 20Real User

Hi!

I don’t know anything about Imperva WAFs, but I can tell you that F5 makes security a high priority, and they respond quickly to threats with either recommendations on things to change or updates. Plus, F5’s products are very intuitive and have GUIs that make administration a breeze, as well as a large support community and KB to consult for command line stuff or more complicated administration via the GUI. F5 products do cost a lot, though, and I would say that’s the main drawback.

Regards,

​​​​​Ethan McGuire

2017-07-11 15:48:53 UTC
author avatar
Vendor

You'll need to weigh your specific requirements and ideally POC both solutions. In our case, after having used both F5 and Imperva WAF solutions we found Imperva to be a more comprehensive fit for our needs.

One of the primary issues with the F5 ASM solution was the performance implications on the load balancers for which it was enabled. If you have the option and budget, I'd suggest a review of Silverline vs. Incapsula to reduce the maintenance and administration overhead. This would have removed the performance issue from the equation for us.

2017-07-10 16:11:50 UTC
author avatar
Real User

Hi There;

Yes I can help !

That's a really good question as the answer is always 'it depends'.

There's really no obvious vendor answer between Imperva and F5 - more pros and cons that you need to match to your use case checklist so I can throw out a fairly standard scouting report of the two and hopefully you'll spot which one more suits your WAF needs.

Ps The first question I'd ask as a precursor is 'why do you need a specific WAF ?

Many UTM / NGFW vendors (eg the Fortinet, Palo Alto, Cisco, Checkpoint best of breed quartet) roll WAF as a standard service / feature and it's usually 'good enough'.

Presuming you already have firewalls and a subset of their UTM sheet turned on - eg IPS, IDS, VPN,.....simply turn on WAF as the quickest and cheapest route to done.

Second question is if starting from scratch why not look more at future state SDN solution like say Big Switch that offers a more flexible security policy workflow orchestration and automation approach to WAF and other services in your data scrubbing food chain.

Back to F5 vs Imperva

F5 Pros
Cadillac - feature rich
- highly programable, flexible
- central APM suite extends to WAF
- good for complex rules/policy
- load balancing kingpin

F5 Cons
Overkill. - complicated to set up/maintain
- high priced/skilled PS work
- takes over your ecosystem and doesn't integrate well with others
- expensive

Imperva Pros
Integrated Knitting - plays well in sandbox
- good enough features for price
- easier / cheaper

Imperva Cons - service play vs product
- more about ps team than polished product
- unclear product roadmap, corporate longevity (ie buy out target)
- lots of custom code, scripts to maintain in knitting

There you go - it's a case of premium beer vs brew your own so depending on whether you are Fortune 500 or SME - budget vs on hand security design talent - that's dictates your direction on vendor vs any sort of Gartner MQ comparison....(IMHO)

And please see questions 1 and 2....I see WAF as not existing in a couple of years - either absorbed as a commodity by UTM space or greatly improved by SDN space

Karl

2017-07-10 15:59:30 UTC
author avatar
Vendor

Imperva are a market leading WAF vendor, whilst F5 are a market leading load balancer (ADC) vendor. That said, the F5 WAF is awesome, and will offer all the security functionality you're ever likely to need. My advice would be to do some homework on price, as both options will provide an intuitive interface and offer excellent threat response times.

2017-07-10 14:10:15 UTC
author avatar
User

We really have experience in WAF solutions, but our main Partner is Akamai KSD(Kona Site Defender) and in our opinion is the more completed solution in these market

About F5 and Imperva solution I can’t answer those questions.

Regards

Ricardo Zovaro

2017-07-10 12:49:11 UTC
author avatar
Real User

The answers are not so simply because seems to be.
In very draft – for the moment I’ ll be back in details later – my answers :

1) Security  Both are very good solutions, with a huge amount of successful cases. The “response” is something that we can discuss it. We have cases with the one is better than the other and reverse. If you discussing about the response when you are opening a ticket for example, our experience says F5.
2) Depends on what experience the engineer has. I mean is not a crystal clear to say one or the other. The ways that F5 works is by far more powerful than IMPERVA.
3) Well, if we would have this discussion 2 years before the answer would be IMPERVA. BUT F5 made a great job these two years, with a huge investment regarding the Cloud and also the functionality. The disadvantage is scaling license of F5 because the F5 upgrades the FQDNs in 5. On the other side IMPERVA upgrades in 1. Another disadvantage is that F5 has no less than 50 MBps license (regarding the SilverLine solution), when IMPERVA starts from 1MBps

PLEASE SEE BELOW some details :

1. F5 ASM - Web Application Firewall Solution

F5® BIG-IP® Application Security Manager™ (ASM) is a web application firewall (WAF), deployed in more data centers than any enterprise WAF on the market. With advanced firewall capabilities, it secures applications against layer 7 distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, malicious bot traffic, and application vulnerabilities where other WAFs fail. Built on F5’s industry-leading Application Delivery Controller with the F5 TMOS® operating system, BIG-IP ASM delivers flexible and comprehensive protections wherever apps reside and without compromising performance—all on a platform that consolidates application protection and access management.

BIG-IP ASM is uniquely offered as an appliance, virtual edition, and as a managed service, providing automated WAF services that meet complex deployment and management requirements while protecting your apps with great precision. It is the most effective solution for guarding modern web applications and data from existing and emerging threats, and maintaining compliance with key regulatory mandates.

Key Benefits

F5 BIG-IP® Application Security Manager™ (ASM) is an advanced web application firewall that protects critical applications and their data by defending against application-specific attacks that bypass conventional firewalls.

BIG-IP ASM is a flexible web application firewall that secures web applications in traditional, virtual, and private cloud environments. It provides unmatched web application and website protection, helps secure deployed applications against unknown vulnerabilities, and enables compliance for key regulatory mandates—all on a platform that consolidates application delivery with data center firewall capabilities, and network and application access control.

Deliver comprehensive security
BIG IP ASM blocks web application attacks in minutes, to help protect against a broad spectrum of threats, including the latest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and SQL injection attacks. It also helps secure interactive web applications that use the latest coding, such as AJAX widgets and JSON payloads. Advanced vulnerability assessment integrations can scan web applications and BIG-IP ASM patches vulnerabilities in minutes to help protect against web threats. BIG-IP ASM stops hackers and attacks from any location and ensures that legitimate users can access applications.

Achieve compliance cost-effectively
Advanced, built-in security protection a demote auditing help your organization comply with industry security standards, including PCI DSS, HIPAA, Basel II, and SOX, in a cost-effective way—without requiring multiple appliances, application changes, or rewrites. Detailed PCI reporting determines if PCI DSS compliance is being met and it guides administrators through the necessary steps to become compliant.

Get out-of-the-box protection
Equipped with a set of pre-built and certified application security policies, BIG IP ASM gives you out-of-the box protection for common applications such as Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Lotus Domino Mail Server, Oracle E-Business Financials, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. A rapid deployment policy secures any internal or third-party application.

Improve performance
Unlike many other security solutions, with BIG IP ASM you don’t have to choose between security and performance. The F5 TMOS® architecture provides significant performance advantages, including SSL offload, caching, compression, TCP optimization, and more. BIG-IP® Local Traffic Manager™ integration enables protection from DDoS and other network attacks, and delivers data center firewall capabilities. And because BIG IP ASM works on the same platform with other BIG IP® modules, you can benefit from centralized, secure access control and even greater performance improvements.

BIG-IP ASM Features and Specifications

The volume and sophistication of attacks makes keeping up-to-date on security threat types and protection measures a challenge for application administrators and security teams. With industry-leading capabilities, predefined signatures, and superior flexibility, BIG-IP ASM delivers advanced, cost-effective security for the latest interactive Web 2.0 applications.

BIG-IP ASM secures any parameter from client-side manipulation and validates login parameters and application flow to prevent forceful browsing and logical flaws. It also allows organizations to effectively guard against existing and emerging Layer 7 application attacks—preventing costly data breaches, thwarting DDoS attacks, and maintaining compliance. BIG-IP ASM is the first leading WAF that supports the transition from AJAX/HTTP to Web Sockets for greater efficiencies and less overhead with bi-directional streaming data. BIG-IP ASM uniquely provides visibility into Web Socket traffic—enabling companies to transition to protecting chat sessions and streaming information feeds (such as stock tickers) from data exposure, tampering, and theft. Users benefit from an extensive database of signatures, dynamic signature updates, DAST integration, and the flexibility of F5 IRules® scripting for customization and extensibility.

Organizations rely on BIG-IP ASM to protect the world’s most visited web applications wherever they reside, with the highest level of security and without compromising performance. BIG-IP ASM enables organizations to detect and mitigate layer 7 threats including web scraping, web injection, brute force, CSRF, JSON web threats, DoS-heavy URLs, and zero-day attacks—providing early warnings, while mitigating threats per policy. It automatically defends against multiple, simultaneous, volumetric application-layer threats including stealthy, low-bandwidth DDoS attacks. BIG-IP ASM also prevents execution of fraudulent transactions, stops in-browser session hijacking, and reports regular and repeated attacks from IPs.

Using automatic learning capabilities, dynamic profiling, unique anomaly detection methods, and risk-based policies, BIG-IP ASM can impose needed protections to prevent even the most sophisticated attacks from ever reaching servers.

WAF Security

L7 DoS and DDoS detection including: HASH DoS, Slowloris, floods, Keep dead, XML bomb

Yes

Web scraping prevention

Yes

OWASP Top 10 prevention

Yes

Automated attack defense and bot detection

Yes

Advanced protections against threats including: Web injections, data leakage, session hijacking, HPP attacks, buffer overflows, shellshock

Yes

Geolocation blocking

Yes

IP intelligence reputation services

Yes - with F5 Intelligence Services

SSL termination with re-encryption

Yes

Security incident and violation correlation

Yes

Client-side certification support

Yes

Client authentication

LDAP, RADIUS

Database security

Yes – with Oracle Database Firewall

Response checking

Yes

Violation risk scoring

Yes

Web service encryption and decryption

Yes – and with signature validation

Device-ID detection and finger printing

Yes

Live signature updates

Yes

WebSocket traffic filtering

Yes
Integrated XML Firewall Yes
ICAP Support for SMTP and SOAP Yes
PCI Reporting Yes
Data Guard and Cloaking Yes
CSRF Protection Yes

HTTP protocol security
– Header name with no header value: Specifies that the system checks requests for valueless header names, which are considered illegal.
– Several Content-Length headers: Specifies that the system examines each request to see whether it has more than one content-length header, which is considered illegal.
– Chunked request with Content-Length header: Specifies that the system examines chunked requests for a content-length header, which should not be permitted.
– Null in request headers: Specifies that the system inspects request headers to see whether they contain a Null character, which is not allowed.
– Content length should be a positive number: Specifies that the system examines requests to see whether their content length value is greater than zero.
– Bad HTTP version: Specifies that the system inspects requests to see whether they request information from a client using a legal HTTP protocol version number (0.9 or higher).
– Host header contains IP address: Specifies that the system verifies that the request’s host header value is not an IP address.
– Unparsable request content: Specifies that the system examines requests for content that the system cannot parse, which is not permitted.
– Bad host header value: Specifies that the system inspects requests to see whether they contain a non RFC compliant header value.
– Check maximum number of headers: Specifies, when checked (enabled), that the system compares the number of headers in the requests against the maximum number you specify.
– Request Checks: Examine lengths (URL, Query strings, Requests, Posts etc), allowed methods (get, put, post etc), disallowed files types, mandatory headers.

CSRF Protection
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks work by forcing the user to run unwanted actions on a website in which the user is currently authenticated.
For example, an attacker may iframe code into a web object that forces the user to request a specific URL without the user's knowledge.
When you enable the CSRF Protection feature in the security policy, the BIG-IP ASM system differentiates between legal requests and forged requests by generating and storing a unique session token in the BIG-IP ASM cookie. The BIG-IP ASM system then verifies the ingress requests, and attempts to match the HTTP parameter value with the BIG-IP ASM cookie value in the request.

Web Scraping
Web scraping is a technique for extracting information from web sites that often uses automated programs, or bots (short for web robots), opening many sessions, or initiating many transactions. You can configure Application Security Manager™ (ASM) to detect and prevent various web scraping activities on the web sites that it is protecting.

Data Guard
In some web applications, a response may contain sensitive user information, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers (U.S. only). The Data Guard feature can prevent responses from exposing sensitive information by masking the data (this is also known as response scrubbing).
Note: When you mask the data, the system replaces the sensitive data with asterisks (****). F5 Networks recommends that you enable this setting especially when the security policy enforcement mode is transparent. Otherwise, when the system returns a response, sensitive data could be exposed to the client.
Using Data Guard, you can configure custom patterns using PCRE regular expressions to protect other forms of sensitive information, and indicate exception patterns not to consider sensitive. You can also specify which URLs you want the system to examine for sensitive data.
The system can examine the content of responses for specific types of files that you do not want to be returned to users, such as ELF binary files or Microsoft Word documents. File content checking causes the system to examine responses for the file content types you select, and to block sensitive file content (depending on the blocking modes), but it does not mask the sensitive file content.

Reporting and Analytics

Customizable charts and reports

Yes

Security overview report
Yes – drill down capabilities to granular details

Combined network and application attack report

Yes – with combined BIG-IP AFM and BIG-IP ASM deployment

WAF health monitoring

Yes

Compliance support

PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOX, Basel II

Automatic policy sync between WAF devices

Yes

Layer 7 DDoS Protection

– Proactive Bot Defense during attacks (this feature requires JavaScript support from the browsers): defense against bot attacks by detecting and stopping them before the attacks start to grow, by performing the following:
• The system sends a client-side JavaScript challenge to the browser.
• If the challenge is met, the system adds a cookie to the second request. This cookie is active until the session ends, and the system does not add any more cookies to further requests during that session.
• The system drops requests sent by browsers that do not answer the system’s initial JavaScript challenge, assuming they are bots that do not support JavaScript.

– Bot Signatures: Allow requests from legitimate (benign) bots and malicious bots to bypass the proactive bot defense and give them visibility in the reports.

– TPS-based DoS Detection. Configures the detection of DoS attacks based on high volume of incoming traffic.

– Stress-based DoS Detection. The system automatically detects an increase in server stress and mitigate DoS attacks causing it.

– Client Side Integrity: Τhe system determines whether the client is a legal browser or an illegal script by sending a JavaScript challenge to each new session request from the detected IP address, and waiting for a response. (Legal browsers are able to respond, while illegal scripts cannot.) Client Side Integrity can be enabled in several attack types whenever TPS is suspiciously increased.

– Behavioral protection: Enables the system to automatically detect Layer 7 DoS attacks using behavioral data, characterize the offending traffic, and automatically mitigate the offending traffic.

– Heavy URLs protection: This feature allows protecting Heavy URLs during DoS attacks. Heavy URLs are a small number of site URLs that might consume considerable server resources per request, even with a low TPS count. Heavy URLs respond with low latency most of the time, but may easily reach high latency under specific conditions. Heavy URLs are not necessarily heavy all the time, but are potentially heavy, especially during DoS attacks.

– Brute Force Protection: The system considers it to be an attack if either the detection interval exceeds the history interval by a relative amount specified on this screen, or the failed logon rate reaches a specific number specified on this screen

2017-07-10 12:47:01 UTC
author avatar
Real User

1. Imperva SecureSphere Web Application Firewall
2. Imperva SecureSphere Web Application Firewall
3. Imperva SecureSphere Web Application Firewall

2017-07-10 12:39:30 UTC
author avatar
User

Hi,

1. Security: Which one offers the best response to known and 0 day threats?

WAF products cannot provide 0 day security but some vendors has integrations with sandbox products (like imperva with fireeye etc..) I’ve been deploying F5 ASM and Imperva WAF for years and I can say that Imperva is just security focused company and signatures are being released very fast and stable. Implementation is better comparing to F5. F5 is basicly known for ADC so their focus is not security, that’s why they accuired a company for WAF.

2. Administration: Which one is more intuitive and easy to administrate?

I can honestly say that Imperva is best to manage. You can configure every function easyly and quickly.

3. Benefit vs. Cost

F5 can give you a possibility to configure everything you want with Irules. Imperva is limited as for the advanced stream config. Imperva is expensive but F5 ASM is cheaper.

2017-07-10 12:29:50 UTC
author avatar
User

I’m more familiar with F5, Netscaler & FortiADC products. I don’t know Imperva but i can give you my opinion on these products :

Comprehensive : F5 = Netscaler > FortiADC
Depending of your needs. If you have a Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop architecture, it’s preferable to choose Netscaler to inspect ICA flows.
For the rest, F5 is better.

Financial :
FortiADC > Netscaler > F5

Intuitivity :
FortiADC > Netscaler > F5

Dynamic security signatures :
FortiADC > F5 > Netscaler

Benefit vs. Cost :
If the needs are lites :
FortiADC > Netscaler > F5
If the needs are strongs :
Netscaler > F5 > FortiADC

If you need it after the 1st of January 2018, FortiADC should be a very nice choice.

2017-07-10 12:24:09 UTC
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