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Qualys Announces Open Source Web Application Firewall Project

Led by the team behind ModSecurity, Qualys today announced an open source web application firewall project dubbed “IronBee,” with the goal of producing a web application firewall sensor that is secure, high-performing, portable, and freely available – even for commercial use.

Led by the team behind ModSecurity, Qualys today announced an open source web application firewall project dubbed “IronBee,” with the goal of producing a web application firewall sensor that is secure, high-performing, portable, and freely available – even for commercial use.

Open Source FirewallA Web Application Firewall (WAF) is typically an appliance, server plug-in, or software-based filter that applies a set of rules to an HTTP conversation in order to monitor and control the movement of data, thus keeping it secure from possible attacks. By customizing the rules of a WAF, many attacks can be identified and blocked. The increasing use of web applications and the transition to cloud computing makes it necessary to deploy WAF technology to protect data and meet regulations such as payment card industry (PCI) compliance. With the launch of IronBee, Qualys is creating a sustainable community for commercial and open source contributors that will ensure that companies of all sizes are able to use next-generation WAF technology to protect their data and IT assets.

The IronBee project is open to all parties interested in joining the development effort and will provide:

• An application security inspection engine that provides new processing tools and analysis for HTTP traffic.

• Apache Software License v2, a non-viral open source license that allows individuals and commercial organizations alike to participate, creating a community of users as well as a community of developers.

• Portability, built from the ground up to work in multiple deployment modes, such as passive, embedded, out of process, and reverse proxy.

• Modular architecture, enabling contributors to easily implement their own modules without requiring deep understanding of the IronBee architecture, as well as allowing straightforward packaging of configuration information and modules appropriate to user needs.

• Community collaboration effort in order to capture, centralize and share the information needed to defend web applications.

“We are excited about the unveiling of the IronBee open source web application firewall project,” said John Summers, vice president of product management for Akamai Technologies. “Akamai and Qualys share a vision that web security must evolve to become an intercommunicating ecosystem of controls located both in the cloud and within the user’s infrastructure. Akamai looks forward to IronBee improving the industry’s ability to address the escalating number and sophistication of web application attacks.”

“It’s increasingly clear that no matter how good we are at secure programming (SDLC), and no matter how effective our code scanning and vulnerability analysis tools are, neither approach can ‘solve’ our web application security problem…The key mantra is shield and patch. When we discover a new vulnerability, we (if possible) shield ourselves through firewalls and other perimeter techniques to buy us time to fix (patch) the underlying problem. No, it doesn’t always work and we still have a heck of a lot of progress to make, but it is a fundamentally sound approach,” said Rich Mogull, founder of Securosis.

“Due to the proliferation of cloud computing and web applications, it is quite obvious that no single company alone can fight the sophistication of attacks we are now facing,” said Philippe Courtot, chairman and CEO for Qualys. “We are now enthused to introduce IronBee as an open source project so we can leverage the collective intelligence of the community to develop a cloud-based WAF with a diverse rule set that can help protect us all against cyber attacks.”

More information on IronBee is available at

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