Secure web gateways inspect data and only pass it on if it doesn’t violate established security policies. They can keep malware from calling home and downloading payloads and prevent sensitive corporate data from being sent to untrusted sites. Available as hardware or software, SWGs sit between your internal staff and the internet. They provide visibility and granular control to enforce security policies without slowing productivity.
Inline Traffic Inspection
The premise behind SWG solutions is that they act as checkpoints that monitor web traffic before it enters or exits the organization’s network. As a result, a safe web gateway prevents unsecured internet data from entering the business network and avoids malware infections or cyberattacks on employees. This is possible by analyzing the data packets themselves. The gateway performs this by checking against a list of approved sites and security policies. The gateway then filters the traffic to ensure it doesn’t violate any rules before allowing the location into the organization.
In addition to examining web content, SWGs can detect and prevent shadow IT applications on the network. By identifying and addressing the risks associated with these apps, companies can protect their data from cyberattacks while ensuring that all information is handled according to compliance policies.
Another way in which SWGs help prevent data breaches is by preventing the theft of company data through outbound web traffic. This is accomplished by examining outgoing data for patterns indicative of a violation and then blocking any suspicious files or traffic from the network.
For a deeper level of protection, many SWG solutions include a database that categorizes websites and detects suspicious activities such as downloads or unauthorized access. Some even use emulation to mimic the framework of a suspicious website, allowing them to detect and block malware before it can attack the organization’s network.
A secure web gateway is a network security solution that sits inline between the organization’s internal staff and the internet, whether deployed as hardware, software or a cloud service; SWG proxy all web requests and enforce security policies around who, when, where and how internal users can access the internet to prevent malicious websites, viruses, malware, and data exfiltration from entering the organization’s IT systems.
SWGs also can inspect web pages in real-time and remove nefarious code, preventing it from being downloaded by employees. This feature helps improve employee productivity and protects the organization from phishing attacks that deliver malware directly into the system via downloads.
Cybercriminals continually develop new threats and attack methods at a breakneck pace. The cost and time commitments associated with upgrading legacy gateway hardware to stand up to these recent attacks are prohibitive, causing many organizations to delay or skip critical updates altogether and leave themselves exposed.
As an alternative, SWGs can decrypt HTTPS traffic to examine the content of outgoing files for suspicious activity and ensure that all sensitive information is protected when working remotely. They also perform data checks on outgoing files for unique patterns and can prevent information leaks, even when the original file is encrypted.
Uniform resource locator (URL) filtering compares URLs accessed by end-users against lists of approved and blocked sites to prevent them from accessing content that is objectionable, harmful, or not work-related. This kind of web filtering also helps increase network security and enforces an organization’s policy on acceptable use of resources.
As employees become increasingly mobile, working from home and other remote locations, it’s critical to safeguard data. Many companies don’t have a central office to protect physical hardware, and working remotely leaves sensitive information at risk for phishing attacks, ransomware infections, malware downloads, and other threats.
A secure web gateway with URL filtering prevents malware and phishing sites from spreading over the internet and blocks time-wasting behaviors that detract from employee productivity. It provides complete visibility and inspection of traffic and websites and offers customizable and targeted web filtering controls like blacklists, custom categories, database customization, and whitelists.
In addition, a good SWG can distinguish between phishing sites detected by other security features like an IPS or sandbox and those that cannot be seen so that it can block access to the area in question. It should also be able to determine whether a user has entered a configurable password to override the policy and continue to visit a website or application that is critical for work.
The growth of remote work has spawned an explosion in cyberattacks targeting businesses and their workers. This is due to the ease of access for attackers to unprotected endpoints, especially those running on unknown public networks. To mitigate these attacks, secure gateways (SWGs) provide application controls that help organizations protect their employees from downloading and using unsafe applications and websites. For example, a SWG can block peer-to-peer (P2P) apps that are popular among users for sharing music, movies, games, and other files and are often used to distribute malware.
In addition, SWGs help prevent data loss by preventing unauthorized data from leaving the organization’s network. This helps ensure that sensitive information about clients, employees, and company systems is not leaked outside the organization. Whether you’re looking for a solution that offers SWG, CASB, or DLP, Forcepoint has the platform to meet your needs. Our next-gen security solution combines advanced threat protection with a single policy engine for consistent enforcement. With inline security scanning and full content inspection, it stops advanced threats that hide in dynamic web content and enables you to securely help cloud and web apps for workers on the go. It also delivers granular control over thousands of cloud apps—including the shadow IT ones led by lines of business and users vs. IT—with comprehensive threat intelligence and user ratings.