Securing the Digital Frontier – The Essential Role of Secure Web Gateways

Secure web gateways are like your personal online bodyguard, examining all the information across your network and ensuring it complies with your security policies. They accommodate remote employees, who may be more vulnerable to cyber threats. They work in tandem with Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW). Together, these technologies help to safeguard sensitive data and prevent cyberattacks.

Understanding Your Risks

What is secure web gateway? A secure web gateway (SWG) is an Internet security product that inspects network traffic, applies and enforces acceptable use policies for corporations, and blocks cyber threats. The gateway can take the form of a hardware appliance or software. It is positioned along the organization’s network perimeter and acts as a proxy between internal staff and the Internet. It can filter out sexually explicit content, spam websites, virus-infected websites, and much more. It can also block peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, which distribute files such as music, movies, and games over the Internet. These types of programs have been linked to malware attacks and data breaches. A SWG can monitor and control P2P activity by analyzing the contents of each file to determine whether it is malicious. A SWG can also protect against advanced Internet-based attacks by performing deep packet inspection, which examines network traffic to determine whether it is safe. It can also detect and mitigate malware such as spyware, adware, trojans, worms, and viruses, which traditional endpoint security devices often miss. By constantly monitoring web traffic and incorporating emerging attack signatures, a gateway can provide up-to-the-minute protection against sophisticated threats. It can also log user activities, threats, and policy violations to make forensic analysis easier for IT teams.

Advanced Security Measures

The shift to remote workplaces exposes employees to broader cyber threats. And despite most data breaches caused by malicious hackers, employee negligence remains the most significant risk and can be very costly for businesses. SWGs help protect against this by detecting and preventing non-work related web usage, malware infections, data leaks, and other cyber threats that could cause financial damage and damage to your reputation. The most basic form of security a SWG provides is URL filtering. This scans network traffic for patterns that match known malicious websites and blocks access. This is a critical tool in stopping malware from calling home, payloads from being downloaded, and other threats from entering the network. Many SWGs also offer anti-malware detection and prevention by examining code in internet traffic and comparing it to known malware signatures. In addition, some use sandboxing to execute potentially harmful code in a controlled environment and prevent attacks. SWGs can also help prevent data leaks by inspecting outbound data and preventing sensitive, confidential, or unauthorized information from leaving the network. This is done through data loss prevention (DLP), which looks for and redacts sensitive information like credit card numbers, medical records, or intellectual property so that it cannot be inadvertently leaked. Some SWGs offer DLP functionality natively, while others utilize integration partners to perform this function.

Regular Employee Training

Keeping employees trained is an essential component of a layered security strategy. However, training them on every potential cyberattack and scam they might face while working from home or in the field is often impractical. A next-generation SWG can offer the protection they need to recognize threats and practice good security habits without stifling workflows with blanket bans on specific applications. A SWG can be software, a cloud service, or a physical appliance that positions itself between an organization’s network and the open web. As a result, it can inspect all traffic and ensure that the information passing between the two is safe. In this way, a SWG can prevent malware infections, data breaches, and other cyber-attacks that originate from malicious websites or downloads. SWGs are designed to include various features, including URL filtering, malicious code detection, and sandboxing (executing potentially malicious code in a controlled environment to see how it behaves). Many also support the security of popular web-based applications. They can be configured to log user activity and security threats for monitoring and auditing purposes. Some advanced gateways even offer a feature called “data loss prevention” (DLP). DLP is like content filtering in reverse, stopping confidential data from leaving a company network, for example, redacting 16-digit credit card numbers before they are sent out over email.

Cyber Insurance

As companies move more of their data into the cloud, ensuring security measures remain effective becomes more challenging. This is why secure gateways are crucial for a comprehensive network security strategy. A secure web gateway is a sentinel at the gateway between an organization’s internal networks and the Internet, scrutinizing every piece of incoming and outgoing network traffic for malicious content and compliance with security policies. It can be deployed in a hardware appliance, as software, or in the cloud and typically includes multiple layers of network security. These layers may include URL filtering, phishing, malware detection, malware prevention by running suspicious code emulating the network environment, and data leakage protection (DLP) to prevent unauthorized data from leaving the organization’s networks. It also provides granular visibility into the types of applications used across the network, including unsanctioned ones like file-sharing apps and cloud data storage tools that could expose the business to a breach. With this visibility, teams can set security controls to block or restrict access to such applications and sites to help ensure that the organization’s data remains secure. In addition, it enforces security policies anywhere workers are – an essential feature as workforces become more remote and the network perimeter grows more distributed. This helps mitigate the risk of unauthorized sensitive data uploads and prevents malware infections that can expose the business to costly cyber threats.