Some days ago another advisory related to a web application firewall (WAF) product was published. This time the product Airlock by Ergon was affected by a vulnerability that combines Encoding and NULL Byte attacks to circumvent the pattern based detection engine. We have described these attacks in detail in our newsletter “Web Application Firewall Security and The Swiss Army Knife for Web Application Firewalls” because they belong to a well known category of attacks against WAFs.
The product is commonly used in the swiss banking industry to ensure PCI DSS compliance and serves as another proof that WAFs can’t protect web applications from skilled attackers as already stated by me in an earlier post that you can find here. Beside these “5 myths of web application firewalls” we can also look at WAFs based on the typical attack vectors against web applications:
These attack vectors are described in detail in the famous “Web Application Hackers Handbook” and if you’re doing web application assessments they belong to the mandatory test methodology. Based on our WAF research we have compiled a little nice diagram that reflects the technical capabilities of WAFs to protect against these attack vectors:
As you can see especially authorization (user A can access data of user B) attacks and also logic flaws can not be addressed by WAFs because they can not be detected by pattern matching and even by whitelisting approaches. By the way when testing banking web applications one of the most relevant questions to answer is “can customer A see account information of customer B” :-). This raises the question “Why is the banking industry using WAFs to protect their customers data instead of fixing vulnerabilities in their applications or in general ensuring the quality?”. And again, finally we end up realizing that implementing a Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) would fulfill our “security needs” in a more effective way, but this time just from an attackers point of view.
Have a great day