Increasing access to the web and the expansion of remote workforce and business mobility has led to the emergence of security measures such as the Secure Web Gateway (SWG) in the cloud. In simple terms, an SWG is a browser anti-malware proxy solution that detects and filters web traffic.
An SWG uses both traditional and more modern techniques to accomplish this, but how exactly does it work? Is this product right for you? Let’s find out below.
What is a secure web gateway?
SWGs have unique characteristics compared to other information security systems that have been implemented in companies for many years, such as Unified Threat Management (UTM), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and other security systems. computer security, which add application control functionalities based on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and anti-intrusion, based on authorization or authorization, to the traditional port use firewall, and therefore of associated applications, based on defined policies by the company, group, or user.
So, an SWG is cybersecurity hardware that protects company information and implements security agreements and policies. This security posture operates between company employees and the Internet (and the cloud). In simple terms, an SWG is like a water filter in your kitchen, which will remove all dangerous impurities so that the drain water is safe to drink. In the same way, an SWG filters unsafe content from web traffic to stop cyber threats and data leaks. They also block risky or unauthorized user behavior.
Why use a secure cloud web gateway?
In the past, security business processes were carried out primarily within an internal corporate network. But with the increased reliance on remote workforces and cloud computing, organizations have to use the Internet in addition to internal private networks. And as the variety and number of threats on the Internet continue to grow, from phishing attacks to malware-infected web pages and malicious cloud applications, SWGs are becoming essential to many organizations that rely on the cloud and force remote work.
How does a secure cloud web gateway work?
Some SWGs work with proxy servers. A proxy server basically represents a different device on the Internet that makes requests and receives responses on behalf of your device; this is how if a document contains malware, it stays in the SWG and not on your device. It is important to note that an SWG (this proxy server) can be an actual physical server deployed as local devices, or in some other cases a cloud-based virtual machine.
Whether a SWG is implemented on-premises or not, they all work more or less the same way. When a client device (in this case, your computer, phone, or desktop) sends a request to access a website or application, (the request) first goes through the SWG. The SWG will then inspect the request and return it to your device if it determines that it does not violate established and default security policies.
It is very similar to physical security; For example, an airport screening officer will not only take you through the x-ray, but will also check you before letting you through. A similar concept is applied in an SWG where all incoming data is inspected before being passed to user devices.
Ideally, an SWG is used by companies that manage employees remotely, typically relying on the cloud. This allows workers to access the Internet through a Secure Gateway (SWG), preventing data leaks on your employees’ devices and networks.
How do secure web gateways enforce security policies?
For an SWG to work properly, a user must set a policy that all network traffic must follow, for example, that all traffic must be encrypted. This policy would mean that SWG would be blocking websites that do not use HTTPS. For a SWG to implement all of these policies, it uses the following measures:
URL filtering is a way to control which websites a user can load, just like in the example above. URL filtering will generally involve the use of a block list. If a user tries to load a website on the block list, the SWG blocks the request and the website does not load on the user’s device. This is something a firewall will do; will restrict access to sites based on your online reputation. An SWG is similar to the Tinywall firewall, allowing you to tailor the types of sites you don’t want to access.
Antimalware detection and blocking works similarly to an antivirus, except one of a SWG will constantly scan your device and the internet for the most elusive or evolved ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks. This means that a SWG examines the data that is passed and checks if it matches known malware code. Some gateways also use sandboxes to check for malware; they run potentially malicious code in a controlled environment to see how it behaves. If malware is detected, the gateway blocks it.
An SWG will detect which applications employees use. This is useful because a SWG can moderate how much access an app gets to your device. Application control can also be extended based on a user’s identity or location.
This works similar to a firewall that blocks content that the SWG developer deems inappropriate or dangerous. Naturally, you or your company’s IT department must customize it extensively to optimize content filtering policies.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
DLPs don’t necessarily save your data to make sure you don’t lose it if your hard drive or cloud gets wiped. Instead, a DLP works like a reverse firewall. It will scan all data leaving your device and block it from leaving if it detects that it is sensitive or the company has access control. Not all SWGs will have this feature, but it can be valuable in preventing data leaks and safeguarding critical information.
Who Should Get a Secure Cloud Web Gateway?
Not having a secure web gateway isn’t as bad as not having an antivirus on your computer, but it’s definitely a nice addition. Remember that an SWG is classified as a very advanced protection layer.
However, a secure web gateway is essential if you have a company that relies heavily on the cloud and has multiple employees working remotely.