AWS WAF vs AWS Shield : Which should you choose in 2022

Cyber attacks are increasing day by day at a lightning rate, primarily Distributed Denial of Service(DDoS) attacks. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is when numerous compromised systems attempt to flood a target with traffic.

A DDoS attack might prohibit legitimate users from accessing your services and cause the target to crash due to excessive traffic volume. And protecting your application against those DDoS attacks is critical.

When you develop an application with AWS, it offers you a couple of security features. Some of them are free, and some are paid. AWS WAF and Shield are two popular security features of AWS. Here in this article, we will learn more about WAF and Shield.

What is AWS WAF?

AWS WAF or Amazon Web Application Firewall is a web application firewall that allows you to regulate content access and monitor HTTPS and HTTP requests delivered to Application Load Balancer, AppSync GraphQL API, REST API, and CloudFront. 

At the most basic level, AWS WAF allows you to select perform one of the following tasks:

Allow and block specific requests

You can specify which requests need to be answered and which one needs to be blocked. You can also contrarily use this. For example, you can deliver content to a limited or specific website and block all others. 

Count requests fitting the criteria

You can monitor your traffic or requests without changing the handling process. For example, you can accept and refuse requests based on specific rules. So the AWS WAF will count and match the requests with those rules.

Implement CAPTCHA

You can also use CAPTCHA to restrict bot or unwanted traffic. 

    Benefits of using AWS WAF

    1. Additional security against online cyber threats based on rules you set. You can define these rules based on the different request attributes, such as – IP address requests coming from, request country, Request header values, Strings in value, Request length, presence of harmful script, or SQL code. 
    2. WAF rules help you accept, refuse, and count the request and check if the request matches specific criteria. In addition, you can reuse the WAF rules in different apps. 

    What is AWS Shield?

    You can use AWS WAF to minimize the Distributed Denial of Service(DDoS) attack, and Amazon offers AWS Shield for additional protection against DDoS attacks. It majorly protects the perimeter of your application which acts as the first entry point for traffic. In addition, the shield provides advanced protection to your EC2 instances, CloudFront, Load Balancer, Route 53, and AWS Accelerator from DDoS attacks.

    Shield Standard’s automated security features are available to all AWS users at no additional cost. It protects your application from the most prevalent and frequent transport and network layer DDoS attacks. However, Shield Standard benefits all services; CloudFront, Global Accelerator, and Route 53 benefit most.

    Moreover, You may opt for AWS Shield Advanced for enhanced security against cyber threats. It helps you protect your application from external threats like Volumetric bots and DDoS attacks. While AWS Shield standard is free to use, AWS Shield Advanced is a paid feature. The pricing of AWS Shield Advanced is $3,000/month with a commitment of at least one year. 

    AWS WAF vs AWS Shield: Which should you choose in 2022

    The main difference between AWS WAF vs AWS Shield is that WAF is an excellent solution if you want to defend your application from typical online threats by permitting the relevant traffic and blocking the rest. On the other hand, AWS Shield is always enabled in all AWS accounts and is used to protect the application from DDoS attacks. AWS Shield Advanced should be considered if your website is vulnerable to more extensive or sophisticated DDoS attacks.

    You can always use a combination of Shield and WAF for improved security posture, but it will depend on your requirements. 

    AWS WAF vs AWS Shield: Use Case

    WAF defends against typical web threats such as DDoS, Cross-site scripting, SQL Injection, etc. Whereas Shield primarily guards against DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial-Of-Services). 

    AWS WAF vs AWS Shield: Operating Layer

    WAF works at the Application Layer (layer 7). Shield, on the other hand, acts in the Transport Layer(Layer 4), Network Layer (Layer 3), and Application Layer (Layer 7) in the case of Shield Advanced.

    AWS WAF vs AWS Shield: Pricing

    AWS WAF charges $5 per month for Web ACL, $1 per month for Rule, and $0.60 per one million requests. Next, you can subscribe for Bot control at $10 per month and CAPTCHA at $0.4 per thousand attempts. It also offers a free tier with Bot control and accounts takeover prevention, for which you are given 10 million requests every month and 10,000 shots per month, respectively free. At the same time, AWS Shield offers two levels – Shield standard and shield advanced.

    There are no charges for using the shield standards. However, shield advanced costs $3000 monthly with a one-year commitment. 

    AWS WAF vs AWS Shield: Complete Comparison Overview

    AWS WAF AWS Shield
    Owner Amazon Amazon
    What is? AWS WAF is a web application firewall that protects the 7th layer (application layer) of the OSI reference model AWS Shield mainly protects your applications from DDoS attacks
    Features AWS WAF has the following features :

    • Easy of deployment 
    • Cost-effective


    AWS Sheild has the following features :

    • Easy to setup
    • Cheap
    Protection AWS WAF can protect following security attacks

    • SQL injection attacks
    • Cross-site scripting attacks
    • OS command injection attacks
    • DDoS attacks(layer 7 of OSI Model)
    AWS Sheild can protect web services from DDoS attacks at layer 3 and 4 of the OSI reference model.
    Pricing AWS WAF charges $5 per month for Web ACL, $1 per month for Rule, and $0.60 per one million requests. AWS Shield offers two levels – Shield Standard and Shield Advanced.

    • Shield Standard – No Charge
    • Shield Advanced – It costs $3000 monthly with a one-year commitment

    Wrapping up

    With a rise in technology and internet use, security concerns also rise, and so does the demand for enhanced protection of applications. Fortunately, AWS provides a comprehensive set of security services that substantially ease the design and maintenance of application security.

    AWS WAF employs several security rules to fortify the cloud firewall in apps and maintain their availability in the case of a malicious assaults addition, lt. Additionally, AWS Shield offers dedicated DDoS protection designed to prevent assaults on your application.

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