A secure web gateway (SWG) is a software solution or hardware appliance that inspects web traffic in real time to ensure it complies with company policies. It may be used with other security endpoint devices or as a standalone. It may include URL filtering, malware protection, SSL inspection, and application control. Some provide data loss prevention (DLP) to stop confidential information such as social security numbers or credit card details from leaving the network.
Identify Your Needs
A secure web gateway (SWG) sits between the network and the internet, preventing malicious website traffic, malware infections, and other cyberattacks from entering and accessing an organization’s systems. Using inline inspection and traffic monitoring, an SWG also prevents data exfiltration, where sensitive information is stolen from a system. An SWG typically uses techniques to monitor and protect network traffic, including URL filtering, malicious code detection, and application control.
Some gateways also utilize a zero-trust model to authenticate users before granting them access to the network. Many SWG solutions offer real-time traffic inspection, meaning threats are detected and blocked in real-time. This efficiency allows organizations to detect issues before they become full-blown security breaches. Some SWG solutions include data loss prevention functionality, which performs outbound web traffic inspection to look for specific patterns that match social security numbers, credit card information, medical information, and intellectual property, all examples of sensitive corporate data.
Depending on the solution, outgoing data is either blocked or flagged for further investigation, effectively preventing data theft from a corporate network. Many SWGs also employ a method called emulation to analyze suspicious websites. By running a suspected malware code in an emulated framework, SWGs can identify and block potentially dangerous websites before they can cause any damage.
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With today’s workforce increasingly reliant on remote work and cloud-based applications, the need for organizations to secure their internet connectivity is more critical than ever. Secure Web Gateways (SWG) protect business processes by acting as an intermediary between users and the internet, inspecting outgoing web traffic to identify security threats such as phishing attacks, malware infections, data breaches, and more. An SWG solution comprises a series of technologies and functions that provide enterprises with advanced protection. These include URL filtering, application control, SSL inspection, and threat detection.
They can also block unsanctioned and potentially risky web apps that expose sensitive information to cyber threats, such as file-sharing, collaboration, or cloud data storage tools. Some SWG solutions also provide device-level data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities to detect and prevent the upload of sensitive information to P2P applications. This allows businesses to enforce policies on employee devices to ensure that the most critical information isn’t being downloaded to unauthorized destinations. SWGs can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid solution.
Some are physical hardware appliances that plug into your IT infrastructure, while others are software-only solutions that can run as a workload on a virtual or physical server. The growing popularity of cloud-delivered SWGs is helping to simplify environments, accelerate cloud migration, and provide security that scales with business needs.
A secure gateway monitors and filters internet traffic to block access to websites and applications that may be malicious or contain sensitive information. It also helps enforce security policies and regulations to protect users, data, and the organization. SWGs are helpful for organizations that have distributed workforces, as they allow employees to work from home or other remote locations and still have control over the security of their devices and networks.
SWGs typically use a list of known bad websites to filter web requests and prevent users from visiting risky sites. They can also use sandboxing to test for malware, running code in a controlled environment to see if it behaves like known malware before allowing the request to pass.
A SWG can also help to prevent data leaks by monitoring and preventing unauthorized downloads from external servers. A good SWG will perform a real-time inspection of all incoming web requests. This will detect if any of the web content violates your company’s security policy, and it will notify you immediately.
It should also be able to identify and block encrypted web traffic. This is an essential feature because hackers often use encryption to hide their attacks, which would go unnoticed by traditional endpoint security tools that decrypt traffic.
Whether an organization seeks to reduce the number of costly malware infections that affect internal systems or improve the security of remote workers’ access to company data and applications, a secure web gateway is a must. A gateway sits between internal systems and the internet, scanning all traffic for malicious content and other risks. It can be implemented as a physical hardware device or run in the cloud as a software-only solution. Evaluating vendors can be a time-consuming and challenging task. Using established models and processes to organize requirements and criteria and prioritize what’s critical to the business is essential.
Otherwise, stakeholders may find themselves comparing apples and oranges. Adding to the challenge is that the traditional corporate network perimeter has disappeared. As employees work from more locations and rely on cloud applications, implementing comprehensive cybersecurity programs that can mitigate threats is more critical than ever. In addition to a robust firewall, a secure web gateway is an ideal solution for layered protection.
It can also help reduce costs associated with data breaches, which average more than $2.5 million for enterprises. With the right tools, a secure gateway can ensure that internal users only access legitimate and approved web resources. This helps limit the risk of malware infections and other cybercrimes compromising productivity and sensitive information.