There has been a surge in the number of container-based applications in recent years, moving away from monolithic apps. The upshot is that this has made applications on all desktop and mobile platforms far simpler to deploy and handle. On the flip side, it has created new challenges to secure them from the threat of cyber-criminals.

When it comes to app developers devising a sufficient security strategy for apps within containerized environments, today’s most suitable firewall candidates are container firewalls and web application firewall offerings that filter incoming web traffic to any application. However, things are not that straightforward when it comes to distinguishing between the benefits of each firewall type and the role each can play to keeping container-based applications safe from external threats today and in the months ahead.

Container firewalls explained

The premise of a container firewall is that it monitors all traffic from within a containerized environment – on top of traffic connecting external networks or older applications to the same environment. This is a key differentiator between a container firewall and a web application firewall as the latter filters traffic from external clients to front-end applications rather than internal clients.

Container firewalls are built to help container-based applications to survive an internal attack. The application intelligence within a container firewall helps to understand the intent of those accessing applications internally and weed out those who are deemed to be acting inconspicuously. Container firewalls can also operate autonomously once provided with whitelist rules to recognize appropriate internal behavior. Their responsivity alters immediately in the event whitelists are altered down the line. Crucially, container firewalls are also designed to mitigate distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), DNS attacks and other typical attacks made at the application level.

Web application firewalls explained

Web application firewalls, also known as WAFs, focus on detecting and guarding against well-known and potentially damaging app security breaches from external sources. WAFs are equipped to spot SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and other popular external attack methods. They are also designed to support common object formats within an application, including JavaScript, HTML, XML and more.

A WAF that works to the best of its ability should be able to filter out illegitimate users of an application without any service disturbances to legitimate users. Instead of using CAPTCHA prompts that are time-consuming and frustrating for some users, the best WAFs will allow you to operate your app in blocking mode, while you work to eliminate all of the false positives within the environment.

Further still, if you are suddenly aware of vulnerability or glitch within your app – and you don’t have a readymade patch to shore up the issue – WAFs can act as temporary patches using their impregnable blacklist policies.

If you are considering designing and deploying a containerized application in the near future, make sure that you have security technology stacks that are capable of monitoring and protecting these new environments. A container firewall and a web application firewall should be able to work in perfect harmony together to thwart both internal and external threats.

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