Lab 1: Deploying and Managing F5 Distributed Cloud Web Application Firewall Configuration


If you are using multiple labs in one course, understand that some steps below may be redundant depending on labs deployed. To gain full benefits from this lab, please delete any objects created in your prior lab and continue with this lab as all necessary objects will be recreated.

Lab 1 will focus on the deployment and security of an existing hosted application using F5 Distributed Cloud Platform and Services. This lab will be deployed in a SaaS only configuration with no on-premises (public or private cloud) elements. All configurations will be made via the F5 Distributed Cloud Console and within the F5 Distributed Cloud Global Network services architecture.

For the tasks that follow, you should have already noted your individual namespace. If you failed to note it, return to the Introduction section of this lab, follow the instructions provided and note your namespace accordingly. The Delegated Domain and the F5 Distributed Cloud Tenant are listed below for your convenience as they will be the same for all lab attendees.

Following the tasks in the prior Introduction Section, you should now be able to access the F5 Distributed Cloud Console, having set your Work Domain Roles and Skill levels. If you have not done so already, please login to your tenant for this lab and proceed to Task 1.

Expected Lab Time: 25 minutes

Task 1: Configure Load Balancer and Origin Pool

The following steps will allow you to deploy and advertise a globally available application. These steps will define an application, register its DNS and assign a target as an origin.

  1. Following the Introduction section instructions, you should now be in the Web App & API Protection configuration window. If for some reason you are not in the Web App & API Protection window, use the Select Service in the left-hand navigation, and click Web App & API Protection as shown in the Introduction Section

  2. In the left-hand navigation expand Manage and click Load Balancers > HTTP Load Balancers

  3. In the resulting screen click the Add HTTP Load Balancer in the graphic as shown.




    You have defaulted to your specific namespace as that is the only namespace to which you have administrative access.

  4. Using the left-hand navigation and in the sections as shown, enter the following data. Values where <namespace> is required, use the name of your given namespace.

    • Metadata:Name ID: <namespace>-lb

    • Basic Configuration: List of Domains: <namespace>

    • Basic Configuration: Select Type of Load Balancer: HTTP

    • Basic Configuration: Automatically Manage DNS Records: (Check the * checkbox)

    • Basic Configuration: HTTP Port: 80


  5. In the current window’s left-hand navigation, click Origins. In the adjacent Origins section, under Origin Pools, click Add Item.


  6. In the resulting window, use the drop down as shown and click Add Item.


  7. In the resulting window, enter <namespace>-pool in the Name field and click

    Add Item under Origin Servers as shown.


  8. In the resulting window, Public DNS Name of Origin Server should be selected for Select Type of Origin Server.

  9. In the DNS Name field enter the following hostname: and then click Apply


  10. After returning to the prior window, make sure Port: within the Origin Servers section, under Origin Server Port is configured for 80.

  11. Leave all other values as shown while scrolling to the bottom and click, Continue.

  12. After returning to the next window and confirming the content, click Apply.




Task 2: Configure WAF Policy on the Load Balancer

The following steps will guide you through adding a Web Application Firewall (WAF) Policy. These steps will demonstrate various aspects of the configuration.

  1. Continuing in the HTTP Load Balancer section, on the left-hand menu click on the Web Application Firewall (WAF) drop down and select Enable.


  2. In the resulting Enable field drop down, select Add Item.



    The “shared/base-appfw” policy is in the “shared namespace” which can be applied to multiple Load Balancer configurations across namespaces, reducing policy sprawl.

  3. In the new window’s Metadata section enter <namespace>-appfw for the Name.

  4. Under Enforcement Mode, change the mode to Blocking.

  5. In the Detection Settings section, click the Security Policy dropdown.

  6. Select Custom from the dropdown menu. Additional configurations will become available



  7. In the expanded configuration, in the Attack Signatures section use the dropdown for Signature Selection by Accuracy and select High, Medium, and Low.


  8. Leaving all other values as default, scroll to the bottom and click Continue.



    Automatic Attack Signatures Tuning is enabled which engages an automatic False Positive suppression engine. Any suppressed events are logged within Security Events.


    Attack Signatures Staging is disabled. This can be enabled should an Application Firewall with new or updated attack signatures be staged (monitored) for a period of prior to enforcement (blocking).

  9. Returning to the HTTP Load Balancer window, scroll (or click in the left-hand navigation) to the Other Settings section and note the VIP Advertisement setting.

  10. Click Save and Exit at the bottom of the HTTP Load Balancer configuration screen.



    The above selection controls how/where the application is advertised. The “Internet” setting means that this application will be advertised globally from the F5 Distributed Cloud Global Network utilizing Anycast.

  11. In the HTTP Load Balancers window, note the application hostname under the Domains column (This was done in Task1: Step 4).

  12. Click the Action dots, and then in the subsequent menu Manage Configuration.


  13. Click DNS Information in the left-hand navigation.

    The value for a CNAME is listed under Host Name. The associated “Default/Tenant IP” is also shown under IP Address. The “Default/Tenant IP” is uniquely assigned to each F5 Distributed Cloud Tenant. Additional Public IPs can be added to the Tenant.


  14. Click JSON in the horizontal navigation at the top-left of the screen. The JSON payload (or YAML format, from dropdown) provides for the entire Load Balancer configuration. This can be used for backup or subsequent CI/CD automation operations.


  15. Click Documentation in the horizontal navigation at the top of the screen.

    The Documentation screen provides details on the F5 Distributed Cloud Console API.

    All operations in the F5 Distributed Cloud Platform are API-first. This includes all GUI actions and associated audit logging.

  16. Click Cancel and Exit to return to the HTTP Load Balancers screen.


Task 3: Testing the WAF Policy & Reviewing Event Data

You will now perform basic testing of the Web Application Firewall (WAF) Policy. You will also review the generated event data to make additional configuration changes.

  1. Open another tab in your browser (Chrome shown), navigate to the newly configured Load

    Balancer configuration: http://<namespace>, to confirm it is functional.

  2. Using some of the sample attacks below, add the URI path & variables to your application to generate security event data.

    • /?cmd=cat%20/etc/passwd

    • /product?id=4%20OR%201=1

    • /../../../../etc/shadow

    • /cart?search=aaa'><script>prompt('Please+enter+your+password');</script>

  3. In the resulting block screens, note the URL and the Support ID. (copy and paste to a notepad or note resource).




  4. Returning to the F5 Distributed Cloud Console, use the left-hand menu to select Overview > Performance section. This dashboard will provide a summary view for all of the configured Load Balancers.



    As you have not run many requests, summary analytics may not be available in the dashboard view yet.

  5. Scroll to the bottom and select your load balancer.


  6. From the Performance Dashboard view, using the horizontal navigation, click Requests.

  7. Change the viewable time period from 5 minutes (default) to 1 hour by selecting the dropdown shown, click Last 1 hour then click Apply.



    Security Event data may take 15-20 seconds to populate in the Console. Please force a refresh using the Refresh icon next to the Time Period selection in step 6.

  8. Expand one of the requests and note the Information tab link. This summarizes request details and provides request duration timing.


  9. Click on the JSON link to get more data about the request.

  10. Click Add Filter as shown to see how you can filter by key identifiers.


  11. The resulting Search input field and listed Keys, can be used to filter requests in this view.



    The available Key list to search is dynamically updated based on the requests in the selected time view.

  12. Closing the filters view, note the available Quick Filters for Response Codes which allows quickly filtering the requests by toggling on or off each response code category.

  13. Click the Forensics tab on the right side of the view as shown.


  14. The Forensics Filter provides summarized top categories which provides quicker analysis of the request log data. Collapse the Forensics view when done using the indicated arrow.



    Individual forensic categories can be changed using the noted pencil icon to surface additional top data details.

  15. Using the left-hand navigation, under Overview select Security.


  16. Review the Security Dashboard display (you may have limited data).


  17. Scroll to Load Balancers section and click the <namespace>-lb object.



    This is a multi-application view. Here you could get the summary security status of each application (iw Threat Level, WAF Mode, etc) and then click into one for more* specific details.

  18. From the Security Dashboard view, using the horizontal navigation, click Security Analytics.


  19. Expand your latest security event as shown.



    If you lost your 1 Hour Filter, re-apply using Task 3: Step 6

  20. Note the summary detail provided Information link and identify the Request ID which is synonymous with Support ID (filterable) from the Security Event Block Page.


  21. Scroll to the bottom of the information screen to see specific signatures detected and actions taken during the security event.

  22. Next, click on the Add Filter link just under the Security Analytics title near the top of the Security Analytics window.


  23. Type req in the open dialogue window and select req_id from the dropdown.

  24. Next, select In from the Select Operator dropdown.

  25. Finally, select/assign a value that matches one of your copied Support IDs from Task 3, Step 2 as shown. You can also optionally just paste the Support ID in the value field and click Apply.




  26. You should now be filtered to a single “Security Event”, as shown with your selected filter. You can expand and review the request as desired using the arrow icon.

  27. Under the Actions column, click on the three Action dots (Scroll to right).

  28. Select Create WAF Exclusion rule from the dropdown that appears.



    Adding requestor/client to “Blocked or Trusted Clients” is also available.

  29. In the subsequent Simple WAF Exclusion Rule window, review the settings (which are editable) by scrolling through the window. The values have been auto-populated based on the selected event to be excluded. Note the various sections and possible controls.

  30. In the Expiration Timestamp field enter a timestamp 10 minutes from now at which the exclusion should expire. (helpful when testing/validating). the format should be as shown YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS+00:00 (2023-05-30T01:21:00+00:00). HH must be in 24 hour format (there is no AM/PM).


    Timestamps are in GMT

  31. Click Apply when complete.




  32. Click Apply on the WAF Exclusion Rules summary screen.

  33. Click on Security Configuration in the left-hand navigation and note the added WAF Exclusion Rules configuration.

  34. Scroll to the bottom of the HTTP Load Balancer configuration window and click the Save and Exit button.


    Rerunning the attack you just excluded, you will see that it is no longer blocked.




Task 4: Understanding Exclusions and Customizing WAF Policy

In this task you will come to understand how exclusions are applied. You will also further customize the WAF policy just built.

  1. In the HTTP Load Balancers window (Manage > Load Balancers > HTTP Load Balancers) Click on the three action dots in the Actions column then Manage Configuration from the dropdown menu.


  2. Click on the JSON tab in the horizontal navigation as shown and scroll to find the waf_exclusion_rule section. Observe that the exclusion rule is associated with the Load Balancer configuration and not the WAF Policy.


    This allows for policy reuse and reduces the need for specific application WAF Policies.

  3. Click on the Cancel and Exit to return to the prior window.


  4. In the left-hand navigation menu, navigate to Manage section and click the App Firewall link.

  5. On your App Firewall policy <namespace>-appfw, click the three dots in the Actions column and then click Manage Configuration.


  6. Click Edit Configuration in the top right corner.

  7. Use the left-hand navigation and click on Advanced Configuration.


  8. Click the drop down menu for Blocking Response Page in the Advanced Configuration section.


  9. Click the dropdown on Blocking Response Page and select Custom from the dropdown.


  10. In the Blocking Response Page Body replace the existing text with the text provided below. Click Save and Exit when completed.


    Sample Blocking Response Page to be copied:

    <style>body { font-family: Source Sans Pro, sans-serif; }</style>
    <html style="margin: 0;"><head><title>Rejected Request</title></head>
    <body style="margin : 0;">
    <div style="background-color: #046b99; height: 40px; width: 100%;"></div>
    <div style="min-height: 100px; background-color: white; text-align: center;"></div>
    <div style="background-color: #fdb81e; height: 5px; width: 100%;"></div>
    <div id="main-content" style="width: 100%; ">
    <table width="100%"><tr><td style="text-align: center;">
    <div style="margin-left: 50px;">
    <div style="margin-bottom: 35px;"><br/>
    <span style="font-size: 40pt; color: #046b99;">Rejected Request</span>
    </div><div style="font-size: 14pt;">
    <p>The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator.</p>
    <p>Your Support ID is: <span style="color:red; font-weight:bold">{{request_id}}</span></p>
    <p><a href="javascript:history.back()">[Go Back]</a></p>
    <div style="background-color: #222222; position: fixed; bottom: 0px; height: 40px; width: 100%; text-align: center;"></div>
  11. You can rerun an attack from Task 3: Step 2 to see the new custom block page.


End of Lab 1: This concludes Lab 1, feel free to review and test the configuration.

A brief presentation will be shared prior to the beginning of Lab 2.