A secure web gateway (SWG) is a critical security tool for protecting organizations against escalating cyber threats and attacks. SWGs identify and block unauthorized applications and content and enforce acceptable use policies across the organization. They also safeguard users against hidden malware and threats, including those camouflaged within encrypted web traffic.
Cyberattacks are a permanent, lingering threat that costs global organizations billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. A web security gateway (SWG) is essential to any company’s cybersecurity defenses. It prevents ransomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious infections from infiltrating company devices and networks. It also reduces the risk of phishing attacks that steal corporate credentials.
URL filtering is a vital tool for business networks, allowing admins to set up categories that will block users from accessing certain types of websites or pages. The best solutions will allow admins to customize the categories to better meet their organization’s needs.
When a user attempts to access a page, the solution will compare that webpage against the URL category list to determine whether it is safe. Then, the SWG will allow the request or direct it to a block page. The solution can use local lookups on a limited number of on-device databases or query a master cloud-based database for the latest website categorization information.
A cloud-based URL filtering solution can save on hardware and eliminate CPU strain, so it is a good option for companies that want to avoid expensive hardware investments and the hassle of software updates. The best solution offers a simple, web-based management portal accessed from any device with an Internet connection. It also has the benefit of improved uptime since the filtering mechanisms operate in the service provider’s data center and are automatically updated.
A vital component of any web security gateway is a sophisticated anti-malware engine. This feature sifts through all incoming traffic, identifying and quarantining suspicious packets. This keeps malware off devices and prevents unauthorized data from leaving an enterprise’s network.
A web security gateway also monitors outgoing data for patterns identifying sensitive information, such as social security numbers, credit card details, medical information, and intellectual property. By implementing DLP functionality, the SWG can prevent these details from being leaked from an organization.
SWGs effectively enforce policies on a wide range of web applications, preventing access to potentially harmful content such as adult websites and cloud storage. They can also stop unauthorized uploads of sensitive information to remote servers, safeguarding intellectual property and mitigating risk from potential cyber threats or data leaks.
SWGs also help eliminate shadow IT within organizational networks by identifying and blocking illicit software on all endpoint devices, whether in the office or on the go. This feature is essential in the age of flexible work arrangements, where remote employees can be exposed to many more threats while operating outside an organization’s digital perimeter. SWGs can reduce bandwidth usage and improve network performance by caching frequently accessed content.
Today, over 80% of data traffic is transmitted via SSL-encrypted connections. Encryption protects against hackers and snoopers by keeping sensitive information private. But that doesn’t mean users can trust every website with an SSL certificate. A malicious attacker could set up a website that uses an SSL certificate but has hidden malware within it. That’s why HTTPS inspection is so critical.
Firewalls with HTTPS inspection decrypt traffic to expose hidden threats and then re-encrypt the data before it’s sent out of the network. This allows cyber security solutions to identify the applications using the connection, enforce URL filtering and other policies, detect malware and data exfiltration attempts, and more.
Another benefit of HTTPS inspection is that it can help uncover encrypted malware that would otherwise escape signature-based antivirus protection. 67% of malware in 1Q20 was delivered over encrypted HTTPS connections. HTTPS inspection can identify the encryption by linking with cyber security software that can test content in a sandbox or remove malicious content from files.
To enable HTTPS inspection, you must first deploy an outbound CA certificate or import a trusted CA certificate for each of your Security Gateways.
They are functioning as meticulous scrutineers of web traffic, secure gateways shielding users and their devices from the boundless expanses of the internet and ensuring safe and compliant interactions. This is done by analyzing, enforcing, and blocking web-based and cloud applications prone to unauthorized use and data leakage. For example, a financial services organization can utilize an SWG to restrict access to high-risk gambling sites. At the same time, a healthcare entity can leverage one to avert unauthorized patient data uploads.
SWGs rely on URL filtering, anti-malware scanning, and application control capabilities to detect malware and other threats. To protect against sophisticated threats, they implement advanced techniques such as emulation to run suspicious web pages in an emulated network environment and block the malicious code. Furthermore, they can inspect encrypted HTTPS traffic to identify hidden malware and other threats that evade traditional antivirus and CASB solutions.
In addition, they can block P2P applications that are commonly used for sharing music, movies, games, and other files. This helps prevent unauthorized file uploads, safeguarding intellectual property and confidential information from potential security risks. SWGs can also identify phishing attempts to harvest access credentials by mimicking real websites with login screens. This feature helps protect remote employees, who may be more susceptible to cyberattacks, from unauthorized sensitive data uploads.