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Cloudflare Enterprise Add-on: A Deeper Look Into the Security Features

Updated on July 21, 2022

8 Min Read
cloudflare enterprise add on

Application security and performance have always been Cloudways’ top priorities, along with a commitment to give flexibility and value to agencies, developers, and SMBs through an enhanced managed cloud hosting experience.

And it works! Web creators love the flexibility of add-ons based on their needs and the control they have over their resources, spending, and budget. They have rated us 4.8 out of 5 on G2, and we’ve grown into a big team of 280 souls in 20+ countries serving over 70K businesses worldwide.

In March 2022, we introduced the Cloudflare Enterprise add-on to leverage cutting-edge technology and infrastructure — all within the Cloudways Platform. Unsurprisingly, the partnership generated curiosity around the broad range of features, from intelligent firewalls to high-performance at the edge.

To answer questions our users have had since launch, here’s a deep dive into those features and their benefits.

What Is Cloudflare Enterprise?

It’s hard not to have heard about Cloudflare nowadays. It is a DDoS (Distributed Denial-Of-Service) mitigation and Content Delivery Network (CDN) service used by millions of sites worldwide, spanning over 100 countries and covering more than 200 unique locations.

Cloudflare also offers the Cloudflare Enterprise plan. On its platform, it comes with exclusive access to advanced functionality for security and performance, and most importantly guaranteed enterprise-level uptime, performance and security.

Since this is the level of value we wanted for all of our Cloudways users, we’ve integrated with Cloudflare and created an add-on powered by Cloudflare Enterprise. All advanced settings are taken care of by us in the backend, while users simply need to activate the add-on for a domain to benefit from enterprise-level performance, uptime and security.

What Makes Cloudflare Enterprise Crucial for Performance?

Today’s digital consumers demand websites, applications, and APIs that load instantaneously and never go offline. Recognizing this, Google uses page speed as a ranking factor for desktop and mobile searches.

Cloudflare mentions that every 100 miles of geographic distance between an app or website and its visitor adds 0.82 milliseconds of latency. So when a user visits a website without the appropriate optimizations, the request is delayed by going all the way to that server where the website is hosted.

TLDR: The longer the distance, the slower your website loads.

When there are too many simultaneous requests, the server gets overloaded, slowing down your or your customers’ websites. The severity of impact on performance can range from a few seconds of delay to the entire application being unresponsive or unavailable.

However, even small issues can have a noticeable impact on engagement and conversion rates:

  • Google found site latency as small as 100 — 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on consumer behavior.
  • One additional second of load time can cause conversions to drop by 7%.
  • About half of mobile users expect apps to respond in 2 seconds or less.

How Does the Cloudflare CDN Work?

The Cloudflare CDN acts as a proxy between your website visitors and the server. Website visitors won’t communicate with your server anymore; instead, they communicate with the Cloudflare network.

The Cloudflare Enterprise CDN spans a global network of data centers that cache content in the closest possible location to users. This minimizes latency and reduces the number of requests to your server while allowing more visitors to access your website faster.

At the same time, all the data passing through the Cloudflare servers is monitored to proactively block malicious traffic, filter out bad actors (like bots), and keep your website safe from any potential attacks.

Cloudflare stands further apart from other CDNs. It is a massive, horizontally scaled architecture in which every node can perform DNS requests, security checks, and performance transformations.

Additionally, Cloudflare employs Anycast routing to ensure web users are automatically routed to their nearest data center and around any failures. This combination of architecture and network produces a reliable, high-performance service.

What Does the Enterprise CDN on Cloudways Offer?

Priority Network – Enterprise Networking prioritizes your traffic over all other Cloudflare traffic. Enterprise Internet assets are placed on dedicated IP ranges for prioritized routing and protection to ensure maximum speed and availability.

Reserved IPs for Cloudways Customers – As part of our Cloudflare integration, all sites on Cloudways will have unique Cloudflare IP addresses. This means your site will not share an IP with adult or spam sites that might use the regular Cloudflare network.

Argo Smart Tiered Caching – The Smart Tiered Cache improves cache hit ratios by allowing some data centers to serve as caches for others before the latter have to request the origin. With the Tiered Cache, certain data centers are reverse proxies to the origin of other data centers.

The asset will already be cached in the proxying data center, ready for proxied data centers that make requests for the same asset. This way, it can be retrieved from there rather than from the origin. That means even fewer overall requests to the origin.

Automatic SSL provisioning – Preconfigured wildcard SSLs are now available with our Cloudflare integration. Unlike Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates which require you to point the domain to your server to install SSL, users will have SSL on their site before they even take their site live on Cloudways via DigiCert.

This means long-term peace of mind for the user with regard to SSL renewal. Compared to Let’s Encrypt SSL, which requires renewal every 3 months, these certificates will be issued for a year and will be automatically renewed at Cloudflare.

Support for HTTP/3 –  HTTP/3 further accelerates traffic delivery through the latest Internet transport protocol. In supporting HTTP/3, Cloudways enables faster and more secure connections to APIs and websites.

TCP Turbo –  This automatically optimizes TCP settings to further accelerate your website’s latency and throughput.

What About Automatic Content Optimization?

The Internet today is not what it was even five years ago. Web pages and applications are heavier and more dependent on external resources and services. Application backends are more complex thanks to the continued evolution of cloud technology and changes in internet protocols.

This heavy, unoptimized static content adds yet more latency, especially on mobile devices, where nearly 60% of web searches originate.

All these problems are mitigated by Cloudflare Enterprise, which automatically optimizes your content for the end-user through a slew of features:

Automatic HTTPS rewrites – Finding and fixing mixed content is challenging and time-consuming. Cloudflare eliminates the manual process of updating resource paths with automatic HTTPS rewrites which is provided by default with our add-on.

Mobile optimization – Mirage automatically optimizes image loading through virtualized and lazy-loaded images. It detects the visitor’s browser type and optimizes performance for the particular device, dramatically improving the performance of images on a mobile connection.

Image optimization – Cloudflare Polish is an automatic image optimization product. Polish strips metadata from images and reduces image size through lossless compression to accelerate the speed of image downloads.

When an image is fetched from your origin server, Cloudflare systems automatically optimize it in the cache. Subsequent requests for the same image will get the smaller, faster, optimized version of the image for better website speeds.

Polish also creates and caches a WebP version of the image and delivers it to the browser if the Accept header includes WebP. The compressed image is significantly smaller than the lossless compression.

Brotli Compression – Brotli is a lossless compression format developed by Google. Supported by all major browsers, it achieves better compression ratios than gzip. Cloudflare uses the Google Brotli library to compress web content dynamically. All the sites hosted via Cloudflare have Brotli compression enabled by default.

Auto Minify – Auto Minify removes on the fly all unnecessary characters—i.e., the “whitespace”—from HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files, saving 20% of a file’s size without changing any of the functionality. Cloudflare implementation of Auto Minify is easily 100x faster than the next closest approach.

Why Do Companies Want to Secure Their Applications?

Well, it boils down to:

  • Stronger, more sophisticated, and highly motivated attackers
  • A growing attack surface area with more public APIs, higher SaaS adoption, and the integration with more third-party applications
  • Heightened public and government scrutiny of data, privacy, and security

Attackers are increasing their frequency and volume of DDoS attacks. According to Cloudflare Radar, the first quarter of 2022 saw a massive spike in application-layer DDoS attacks but a decrease in the total number of network-layer DDoS attacks. Application-layer or “Layer 7” attacks are harder to detect. They often require fewer resources to bring down a website or application and disrupt operations.

From August 2020 to March 2021, Cloudflare’s Galileo project participants (which includes 1,600 organizations in 111 countries) experienced over 13 billion cyber threats — more than 53 million daily attacks on average. The most common attacks used by hackers included exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities, user agent anomalies, and fake search engine bots.

types of cyberattacks

How Does Cloudflare Secure Your Application?

The foundation of Cloudflare’s advanced application security portfolio is its Web Application Firewall (WAF) which keeps applications and APIs secure, mitigates attacks, keeps bots at bay, and detects anomalies and malicious activity. Through our Cloudflare Enterprise add-on we offer this by default and on the fly, when a user activates the add-on for a domain.

cloudflare waf

With Cloudflare’s WAF layered defenses, users are protected by most attacks without worrying about false positives – unlike most WAF service providers that only rely on the OWASP Core Rule Set set to protect the user’s application.

By default, Cloudways customers using the Cloudflare Enterprise add-on are also protected by the Cloudflare Managed Ruleset. This ruleset is based on observations on millions of web applications that sit behind the Cloudflare Platform, and it is updated frequently by Cloudflare to cover new vulnerabilities and reduce false positives.

In addition, Cloudways users are also protected by a 3rd rule set: the Cloudflare Exposed Credentials Check. The ruleset is a set of pre-configured rules for well-known CMS applications (like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, etc.) that perform a lookup against a public database of stolen credentials and block the use of stolen/exposed credentials that may lead to account takeover.

Finally, Cloudflare’s WAF layered defenses also include the automated Browser Integrity Check – BIC, which evaluates request headers and blocks the ones used most commonly by spammers. It also challenges visitors without a user agent (e.g., visitors without a browser’s user agent that signifies a real visitor) or with a non-standard user agent commonly used by abusive bots, crawlers, or visitors.

Cloudflare DDoS Protection and Mitigation

Cloudflare Enterprise protects customers from large-scale attacks that involve millions of requests per minute! Application-layer DDoS attacks disrupt a web server’s ability to process real user requests if bombarded with more requests than it can process, resulting in poorer performance or downtime.

Cloudflare’s DDoS protection system scans for and protects against these attacks and works in parallel with Cloudflare’s centralized DDoS protection detection mechanism, Gatebot, which resides in Cloudflare’s network core. This way, Cloudflare can mitigate large, distributed volumetric attacks requiring coordination.

Check out this graph to see how it handles millions of requests across 7k+ domains in a 72-hour time span for Cloudways.

cloudflare events summary

Summary

Whether you’re a small, medium, or large-sized business, our Cloudflare Enterprise add-on is the right choice. Our integration and reasonable pricing have made it accessible to all sizes of websites and applications that mean business to our customers.

And you can count on Cloudways, no matter the revenue of the company you represent, to have access to the same high-quality services the largest corporations in the market have.

This desire to deliver value and make Cloudflare hosting as simple and effective as possible for everyone, drives the strategies and processes we use to keep our prices fair. So, activate the Cloudflare Enterprise add-on, explore our other ones, and keep an eye on what comes next; the future is with Cloudways.

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Marianna Siouti

Marianna Siouti is a Product Marketing Manager at Cloudways. She has over 14 years of experience in the hosting industry, in Marketing and Product. She is someone who falls in love with problems and works towards solving them with technology. You will find her working remotely from warm places, or on LinkedIn.

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