A secure web gateway (SWG) is a security checkpoint that thoroughly inspects all internet-bound traffic before entering an organization’s internal network. It monitors and tracks applications and can even detect and block malware infections.
SWGs analyze web content in real-time against corporate policies. Content contravening policy is blocked, so employees cannot access websites with vulnerabilities or malware.
A secure web gateway is an effective security solution that protects your business from cyber threats. It prevents employees from accidentally clicking on a malware-laden link or downloading a suspicious payload. It monitors their internet activity and ensures they only connect to legitimate websites. This solution is vital in today’s remote work culture, where employees can access company data from multiple locations and devices.
SWGs are typically deployed on-premise or in the cloud and are a layer of defense between the internet and your internal network. They can be used as a stand-alone system or with other security solutions, such as a next-generation firewall or CASB.
Most SWGs operate on a proxy server, a device that makes requests and receives responses on behalf of another computer or user. When a user browses a website, their browser sends a request to the SWG, which checks the destination against a list of known malicious websites and other sources. If the site is deemed to be dangerous, it will be blocked.
A SWG can also be equipped with data loss prevention functionality, which scans outgoing traffic for unique patterns and identifies sensitive information such as passwords, IP addresses, medical records, and intellectual property. This feature will prevent unauthorized data from leaving the enterprise’s network, protecting it from being stolen by hackers or leaked to unauthorized parties.
With more and more enterprises adopting remote work and empowering mobile workforces, the need for secure web gateways becomes apparent. These are devices that employees use to access their work applications from home, public Wi-Fi networks, and even their smartphones. These unsecured endpoints have widened the enterprise attack surface, making it easy for cyberattacks to breach company systems and steal sensitive data.
A secure web gateway monitors and inspects Internet traffic in real-time to block content that violates corporate policies. It can include malicious URLs, phishing sites, and file-sharing applications like P2P that have been known to spread malware. In addition, these systems can filter and prioritize traffic based on its importance so that high-risk incidents are handled first.
Some SWGs also integrate with existing security technologies to provide a more robust solution to preventing threats from reaching the network. It can involve integrating with AV solutions to eliminate false positives, blocking access to new and unknown dangers, or using sandboxing to execute suspicious code in a virtual environment to prevent data leaks.
In a more comprehensive approach, some SWGs can monitor and track all online activities to give companies granular control over their network. It enables them to enforce strict regulatory compliance mandates like PCI-DSS and GDPR. It is made possible by the ability of these systems to classify online traffic based on fields and properties like URL, application, and device type.
In addition to a wide range of threat detection and blocking capabilities, secure gateways also have to support a variety of Internet protocols. It is crucial today, where more and more work is being done remotely from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
To effectively protect users and their devices from threats, security teams need to be able to inspect web traffic in real time. Legacy solutions require that all Internet-bound traffic be backhauled to the data center for inspection. It can slow down performance and increase the risk of lateral movement within the network, directly opposing the fundamental tenets of zero trust.
A modern secure web gateway provides distributed enforcement by decrypting and inspecting Internet-bound traffic at the edge, using a combination of local on-device inspection technologies and cloud-based analysis services. It reduces network latency and eliminates the need for lengthy VPN connections and expensive hardware appliances.
A modern SWG must also provide effective data loss prevention (DLP) that stops sensitive information from leaving the network. It is especially crucial as more and more employees use software-as-a-service applications such as instant messaging and video conferencing to collaborate with coworkers in remote workplace settings. Employees need to be aware of the potential consequences of their actions in a professional background. By being mindful and taking appropriate precautions, employees can help safeguard confidential information, prevent financial loss, and protect their organization’s reputation.
Modern trends such as cloud migration, the shift to a hybrid workplace, and the use of personal devices for the workplace put intense pressure on business networks. They are also becoming increasingly susceptible to cyber-attacks and data breaches. A secure web gateway (SWG) helps businesses mitigate these risks and protects their assets, reputation, and customers.
SWGs inspect inline network traffic between users and the internet to stop unauthorized data from leaving an organization’s network. These solutions ensure safe internet access for employees by blocking malicious websites and content. They also prevent data exfiltration, which is the theft of critical and sensitive information from a company’s systems.
To do this, a SWG scans network traffic to look for malware. It includes monitoring for suspicious URLs, examining the contents of files for malicious code, and detecting unauthorized applications by checking them against a list of known bad apps. Some SWGs even use sandboxing to execute potentially malicious code in a controlled environment to see potential problems.
Whether a business uses a SWG as software running in the cloud or as a physical hardware device that plugs into their IT infrastructure, they all operate roughly the same way. They position themselves at the network’s edge to filter outgoing data, much like a security guard does with items before they can pass through a checkpoint.