In this article, we will be discussing the work of Cloudflare, an American company that provides many services such as a DNS, a content delivery network (CDN), and many other items that help make websites faster and more secure. There are over 26 million sites using Cloudflare, and as a result more than 1 billion IP-addresses are processed each day as a result of using this service.
Matthew Price, Lee Holloway, and Michelle Zatlyn, the founders and CEOs of Cloudflare, founded the company in 2009. It is their goal to assist in building a better internet as part of their mission. Multiple free and paid services have been launched as a result of their efforts to achieve this goal. Based on their results in 2019, it is evident they are doing something right. Over 287 million dollars were generated by Cloudflare in 2019.
How does Cloudflare work?
Cloudflare's massive network of servers is the core of the company's success. Across 93 countries, the network covers more than 200 locations in almost half of the world. On a massive scale, these servers serve as both cache servers and firewalls.
There are multiple Cloudflare servers around the world that cache segments of data from the site.
Visitors will receive cached data from the closest location when they request the site from Cloudflare. A result of this is that visitors usually have the ability to receive information much faster than if they made a direct request to the website themselves. Moreover, Cloudflare monitors all data passing through its servers. By doing so, they will be able to prevent potential attacks, filter out bad actors (such as bots) and do anything else that helps make your website as secure as possible.
Cloudflare's services have significantly improved over the years. More elements have been added every time, making it better, faster, and stronger.
So far, what does it got to offer?
- Cloudflare offers a variety of services, including:
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Domain Name System (DNS)
- Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Load Balancing
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
- Caching possibilities
- Video Streaming
- Domain registrar
- Workers (for developers)
In the following, we will explore the most important ones:
Cloudflare DNS service
Using DNS (Domain Name System), computers can be identified by their names and numeric addresses on the internet. When people visit a website, they don't have to remember their IP addresses; they just enter a name instead.
According to Cloudflare, their DNS service has unmatched redundancy, is fast when responding (reaction time), and is secured by DNSSEC and a DDoS blocker.
A 100% uptime is achieved thanks to Cloudflare's worldwide distribution network of 200 servers.
This works because when you bring your DNS under Cloudflare and use the SSL certificates offered by Cloudflare, you will automatically receive their WAF (Web Application Firewall).
Since Cloudflare scans most IP addresses around the world, they can detect wrong IP addresses very quickly and can then block them immediately. Because they are the largest, they examine the most IP addresses. Due to this, they are able to block all IP addresses with bad intentions the quickest.
Cloudflare CDN service
With the Cloudflare CDN feature, the visitor has the option of communicating with the nearest Cloudflare server, which is the main advantage of this feature. As a result, websites will load more quickly. There is no doubt that this is an absolute must-have for international websites.
There are even more advantages to using Cloudflare's CDN than you might expect. There is a caching module that is built into the software. It is the caching module that ensures that the server does not have to load every page every time a visitor lands on the website. Your caching is fully customizable with Cloudflare.
Cloudflare Web Application Firewall (WAF) service
Organizations can use the WAF to protect their websites and other applications against cyberattacks without modifying their existing infrastructure. WAF-dashboard allows you to add rules to be even better protected with Cloudflare. A rule engine checks every request entering the WAF against the rules you set. The workflow will make sure that suspicious requests are blocked on time, recorded according to the needs of the user, as well as directing reasonable requests to the right place.
Turning on the OWASP Core Ruleset is a simple setting in WAF. As a result, SQLi and XSS attacks are protected against standard attacks.
Cloudflare SSL/TLS Encryption service
This is also a benefit of using Cloudflare. A secure connection is established using the Security Socket Layer (SSL). SSL certificates are now required for every website. Google has mentioned that websites without valid SSL certificates suffer from lower search engine rankings. As a result, visitors to this website will be informed that the site is not secure, which may alarm them.
To obtain an SSL certificate for your website, you will be able to use Cloudflare if you own a website. It is, of course, the mission to build a better internet that this contributes directly to.
In general, Cloudflare's free version comes with many features. As a member of this program, you will have access to a CDN, basic caching, and DDoS protection.
In order to utilize all the Cloudflare services, however, you have to subscribe to the Cloudflare Pro version if you wish to make use of all their services. In addition to the automatic compression of images, Cloudflare's WAF, automatic mobile automation, etc., you will receive a lot more features with the Pro version.
The add-ons are also available for purchase separately if you prefer.
You can find all the prices of Cloudflare's subscription options in the following table:
- No charge
- $20 for the Pro version
- $200 for businesses
- On request for enterprises
As an alternative to Cloudflare, the following options can also be considered:
- Amazon CloudFront
Amazon CloudFront and Cloudflare have similar ambitions regarding securing and speeding up websites. One of the advantages (or downsides for some technicians) is how easy it is to use Amazon CloudFront. Amazon CloudFront can be seen as a traditional CDN, while Cloudflare is seen as a CDN with a reverse proxy.
Because Akamai has existed for a much longer period than Cloudflare, Akamai has a much larger market share than Cloudflare. In addition to offering CDN services, Akamai offers a wide range of security features. The configuration of Akamai will take a little longer since it is more restricted.
3. Imperva Incapsula
At approximately the same time that Cloudflare launched, Incapsula was launched. In their eyes, they are one of Cloudflare's biggest competitors. There are a lot of similarities between Cloudflare and this service.
But let's see why Cloudflare will be the better one to choose:
You can access a wide range of L3-L7 network services through Cloudflare's architecture. Throughout our global network, it is designed to run all of our services on every server in every data center in every location around the globe. Besides that, it also gives your developers the ability to deploy serverless code instantly across the globe on a flexible, Internet-scale platform. There is no need for software or hardware. Setup, use, and maintenance are simple.
- Many hosting companies include Cloudflare's CDN in their packages.
- Cloudflare provides excellent protection against DDoS attacks. This service helps mitigate many types of attacks.
- With Cloudflare, you can generate your pages from local servers, so visitors from around the world will be able to access your site.
- Cloudflare continuously updates its services to meet the needs of customers.
And let's add:
It also stops malicious traffic before it reaches your origin server, hidden from attackers by Cloudflare's IP address. WAF and DDoS protection provided by Cloudflare mitigate security risks automatically.
In addition to serving proxied traffic as a Content Delivery Network (CDN), Cloudflare also optimizes asset delivery by caching static resources.
Visitors' requests are routed to the nearest Cloudflare data center by Cloudflare's globally distributed Anycast network.