Enhancing Silverline with F5 Device ID+

Setting the Scene

If you haven’t heard already, F5 closed out the year of 2020 by announcing a new and completed free of charge service called F5 Device ID+. The free service is available for all F5 customers with up to 20 million devices. This number of 20 million, refers to the number of unique customer devices that visit your Websites, Applications, and Web based Services.

The concept of a Device ID isn’t exactly a new thing, but the way it’s delivered by F5, and the fact that it’s offered at no cost, does make it a unique and revolutionary offering.

We have already published a board range of information relating to the service, including a Video Introduction, and Introductory page on F5.com, as well as the getting Started documentation on F5 Cloud Docs.

There are multiple ways to configure and consume the new F5 Device ID+ service, and the one we wanted to talk about today, was how and why to combine this new capability through the F5 Silverline Security-as-a-Service solution. 

What is F5 Device ID+?

F5 Device ID+ is a real-time, high-precision device identifier that utilizes advanced signal collection and proven machine learning algorithms to assign a unique identifier to each device visiting your site. Deployment is simple, with immediate benefits for the security, networking, fraud, and digital teams. Never has understanding the unique devices visiting your applications been so easy.

When each user visits your website, F5 Device ID+ leverages JavaScript to collect information about the browser, device’s OS, hardware, and network configuration. These attributes feed into F5 Device ID+ service built on F5 Shape’s industry-recognized AI and machine learning capabilities. The data is processed in real time, and a unique identifier is assigned to the device, unless it is already a known device. For returning devices, behaviour, actions, and other properties can be recorded, learned, and studied to facilitate the reduction of fraud and a smooth experience for known good users.

Further information on the Use Cases for F5 Device ID+ can be found on the Product overview Datasheet

What is F5 Silverline?

F5 Silverline is a cloud-based security-as-a-service platform. That can be deployed in front of any application or app infrastructure no matter where they reside across the multi cloud world. It can deliver a broad range of services to secure those applications from emerging and sophisticated threats.

F5 Silverline is a fully managed service that combines a 24 by 7 security operations center. With an industry leading technology platform. The SOC is populated with over 150 security experts on hand to facilitate policy lifecycle management and to analyze logs with you to look at threats and the mitigation actions instigated to block them.

The Service is managed through an Easy to use customer Portal, which provides rich contextual dashboards, and a comprehensive knowledge base for customers wishing to be self-sufficient and maximise their return on investment.

At present the Silverline service can be consumed as 3 primary standalone solutions, or combined together for holistic application and infrastructure protection.

F5 Silverline DDoS Protection service, provides comprehensive, high performance protection from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, with real-time cloud scrubbing services.

F5 Silverline Shape Defense solution, prevents a broad range of online automated fraud to keep your applications and digital assets safe, and Bot Free.

F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall service, will help defend your application capital from emerging and sophisticated threats, to ensure business continuity for critical applications and your digital presence.

We also have an additional Add on Service for F5 Silverline Threat Intelligence, which integrates dynamic lists of threatening addresses based on IP reputation to give additional context for policy decisions.

All of these Services are designed to help organisations tackle the challenges of their digital transformation journey.

And as of December 2020, we now also offer the F5 Device ID+ service to all F5 Silverline Customers, in order for the Silverline Cloud to inject the required Javascript in to all HTTPS traffic flow to Applications secured through the Silverline Service. 

Why enable F5 Device ID+ for F5 Silverline?

F5 is the industry leader in Application Delivery and Application Security Services. F5 Silverline is the simplest and most cost effect way to deploy and operated a globally dispersed Application Services solution, and F5 Shape provides the most innovative and comprehensive range of anti-bot and anti-fraud solutions, with a laser focus on effectively identifying devices and their intentions.

F5 Silverline provides a zero-effort way to activate and consume the F5 Device ID+ service, powered by the machine learning analysis of Device, Browser, network and environmental signals and telemetry discovered by the F5 Shape Cloud AI engine. Bringing these two great services together is a bit of a no brainer, and existing F5 Silverline customers, can simply flip a Toggle switch to get the HTTPS enabled applications provisioned to start processing traffic in real time, and assigning a unique identifier to every device interacting with your websites and Apps.

If you're new to F5 and want to take advantage of this unique combination of Fully Managed Services, you can request a free trial of the F5 Silverline WAF or F5 Silverline Shape Defense at F5.com.

How to Onboard Your Silverline Protected Applications with Device ID+

Device ID+ can only be configured on HTTPS services for Applications provisioned as an Application Proxy within the Silverline system.

Application proxies are the recommended way to deploy HTTP & HTTPS Services to your protected Web Applications and allow you to take advantage of the Silverline Regional POPs and newer services such as Multi-FQDN configuration and Silverline Shape Defense.

More information on the configuration and Application Proxies can be found on the support knowledge base HERE

Navigate to the Application Proxy you wish to enable for Device ID+ and follow these steps to activate the configuration:

1.    Navigate to the HTTPS Service on the Application Proxy

2.    Navigate to the Shape Security Tab

3.    Switch the DeviceID+ Toggle to the ON position

4.    Fill in the Javascript Insertion Service Configuration section:

a.    Define the Shape Javascript Path – create a name for the Javascript you want to insert on to the pages

                                              i.    Must be unique and cannot already be in use in your Application

                                             ii.    Do Not Use a name that indicated Shape or Silverline in the path

b.   Define the Javascript Insertion Location – to indicate where you want the Javascript to be inserted in the page

                                              i.    Before <script>

                                            ii.    After <head> (our preferred option)

                                           iii.    After <title>

                                           iv.    Other – Customer-configured

c.    Specify any Excluded Paths – Define any HTTP Paths where you do NOT want to insert the F5 DeviceID+ Javascript

If you are not able to locate the Shape Security Tab, or the Device ID+ Toggle switch, please contact the Silverline SOC for assistance.

Working with an F5 Device ID+ Deployment

In order for you to then be able to leverage the F5 Device ID+ identifiers, there will be some work that you need to do in your Application logic.

Full details on how to work with this solution can be found on the F5 Cloud Docs website HERE

You will find the details of the two unique identifiers the solution creates. residue-based identifier and an attribute-based identifier. The residue-based identifier is based on local storage and cookies. The attribute-based identifier is based on signals collected on the device. The two identifiers always have different values.

The residue-based identifier will change whenever local storage is deleted, such as when a user clears cookies. We expect this identifier will have lower persistence and hence high divisions, that is, the same device might appear to have different residue-based identifiers over time. On the other hand, because the residue-based identifier is a sufficiently long random string, there is nearly no chance of collision (that is, when one identifier is shared by more than one device).

The attribute-based identifier, based on signals collected from the device, is more persistent in that it will remain the same even when the user clears local storage. However, the attribute-based identifier could change when certain events occur such as a browser update, configuration change, or hardware change. Device ID+ continuously strives to base the identifier on the most persistent of signals, those least likely to change.

The attribute-based identifier, however, does not guarantee persistence. It is possible for two devices to share an attribute-based identifier if the devices are sufficiently similar. Again, F5 performs continuous research to collect signals that will minimize collisions. 

Maximising the use of F5 Device ID+

Your initial thoughts may well be that the solution seems limited in its current form, and that we are asking your development teams to do the heavy lifting, to actually start to leverage the Device identifiers.

In some ways this is true, however it’s likely that you are already using some kind of session tracking or device identifier, such as cookies. All we are providing is a more reliable and tamper proof alternative identifier, as part of this free service.

This service will enhance your visibility and awareness of the users and devices traversing your websites and application, but the story doesn’t end there.

F5 does offer several additional Security solutions that leverage this fundamental Device ID+ to provide advanced Bot Detection, and other anti-fraud capabilities.

The F5 Device ID+ service should be seen as a foundational element to your overall security posture.

As such, in the very near future, we will be enhancing the F5 Silverline Customer Portal with some additional Dashboard charts built on the Device ID+ Analytics.

Future Visibility for Device ID+ in F5 Silverline

In the next phase of development, we will be adding additional visibility and analytics gathered from DeviceID+ into the Silverline Dashboards, charts and Statistics.

Existing customers can get details as they are released by subscribing to our release notes by following the details in this Support Knowledge Base Article 

What this means for you

The F5 Silverline Portal already provides a very rich set of analytics, performance and security related dashboards, statistics and charts. All aimed at increasing your situational awareness of your Application Security posture.


Adding F5 Device ID+ to this already powerful set of analytics, will further enhance your awareness of application traffic, and any potential risks to your infrastructure, Websites, and Services.

F5 Silverline delivers Industry leading protection for multi-cloud hosted applications and services.

It ensures that Applications stay online and available to improve the end user experience, while delivering business continuity for critical application and digital assets.

The Service will help you reduce operating costs in the time and management of Application security, as well as the operational overhead on in-house IT resources and skills, by leveraging the Silverline SOC cyber security experts to augment IT security staff 24x7

The comprehensive mitigation techniques implemented through the F5 Silverline Web Application Firewall service help drive efficiencies in your application security and deliver complete visibility and insight into application attacks.

F5 Silverline Shape Defense has been a huge hit with our customers so far, as the zero impact deployments really help demonstrate a rapid return on investment, while reducing the time to achieve and the cost of managing Bot and automate fraud prevention.

Adding Device ID+ Dashboard charts will provide unparalleled visibility and reporting for all human, automated and/or bot traffic, while ensuring your applications and digital assets are online and available.

Published Jan 12, 2021
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