A Trip Down WAF Memory Lane: The Evolution of Web Defendersby@d0znpp
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A Trip Down WAF Memory Lane: The Evolution of Web Defenders

by Ivan WallarmApril 6th, 2023
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Web Application & API Protection (WAAP) is a new generation of web application firewalls. WAFs have come a long way from their humble beginnings in the 2000s to the mighty protectors they are today. WAAPs are armed with the power of machine learning and advanced heuristics to ensure our web applications and APIs stay safe.
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Picture this: it's the early 2000s, Y2K panic has subsided, and everyone is wearing cargo pants while jamming to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men. Back then, web application firewalls (WAF) were still learning to crawl, providing basic protection for web apps like a baby bouncer for the internet.

Fast forward a decade, and WAFs have leveled up like Super Mario on a power-up, now boasting better protection for web apps in the 2010s. As we cruise into the age of Next-Generation WAFs (NGWAF), these cyber guardians are flexing their muscles like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, ready to combat advanced threats with newfound strength.

But wait, there's more! Introducing the Web Application & API Protection (WAAP) squad. These modern-day superheroes swoop in to save the day with comprehensive protection for both web apps and APIs. Not even zero-day exploits can escape their watchful eye.

To make sense of this whirlwind journey, we've crafted a comparison table that takes a fun and informative look at the evolution of WAFs, from their humble beginnings in the 2000s to the mighty protectors they are today. Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through WAF history!


WAF (2000s)

WAF (2010s)

Next-Generation WAF (NGWAF)

Web Application & API Protection (WAAP)

Main Value

Basic web application protection

Improved web application protection

Advanced web application protection

Comprehensive protection for web apps & APIs


Protecting web apps from basic attacks

Protecting web apps from more sophisticated attacks

Protecting web apps from advanced attacks, including automated threats

Protecting web apps & APIs from a wide range of attacks, including zero-day exploits

API Security



Improved API security

Full API security, including schema validation and behavioral analysis



HTTP, HTTPS, WebSockets

HTTP, HTTPS, WebSockets, HTTP/2

HTTP, HTTPS, WebSockets, HTTP/2, gRPC




High performance with low latency

High performance with low latency and optimized resource usage


RegEx-based rules

RegEx-based rules, some heuristics

Machine learning, advanced heuristics

Machine learning, advanced heuristics, and risk-based policies


Limited protection

Moderate protection

Improved zero-day protection

Advanced zero-day protection with real-time threat intelligence

And so, dear readers, we've reached the end of our exhilarating rollercoaster ride through the twists and turns of WAF history. From the early 2000s, when WAFs were as basic as flip phones, to the present day, where they stand tall like a Transformers movie with a better plot, our web guardians have come a long way.

Now, as we embrace the age of WAAP, we find ourselves surrounded by digital bodyguards fit to protect Tony Stark himself. Armed with the power of machine learning and advanced heuristics, these cyber sentinels ensure our web applications and APIs stay safe, even when faced with the digital equivalent of a zombie apocalypse.

But let's not forget that, like a fine wine, WAFs only get better with age. So, as we look to the future, we eagerly anticipate the next generation of web and API protectors – maybe they'll come with holographic displays or be fueled by avocado toast, who knows?

In the meantime, let's raise a glass (or a can of Surge, if you're feeling nostalgic) to the brave

WAFs and WAAPs of today, who tirelessly shield our precious web apps and APIs from the cyber boogeymen lurking in the shadows of the internet. May their vigilance never waver, and may their protective powers continue to grow like a Chia Pet after a week in the sun.

So, fellow netizens, as we sign off and surf into the digital sunset, remember to appreciate the ever-evolving WAFs and WAAPs that have our backs. After all, they're the ones ensuring we can continue to scroll through our endless social media feeds, binge-watch cat videos, and, of course, enjoy hilarious articles about the evolution of web security without a care in the world.