Modern trends like cloud migration and shifting to a remote workforce have increased pressure on business networks. Fortunately, SWGs provide an essential layer of defense.
An SWG uses blocklists and sandboxing to scan network traffic for malware by running suspicious code in an emulated environment. It also enables granular control over data, which helps meet compliance requirements.
Protects Against Malware Attacks
With cyberattacks at an all-time high and a rise in remote workforces using insecure devices on public networks, many companies need a solution like the secure web gateway (SWG). An SWG is a checkpoint that safeguards the network by inspecting all online traffic for malicious activity before passing it along to users.
SWGs monitor the Internet for any signs of malware and phishing attacks, which can be hardware or software-based. In addition, most SWGs offer URL filtering, malicious code detection and scanning, and application controls for web-based applications. Some SWGs use sandboxing, which examines suspicious code in a controlled environment to see how it behaves before allowing it into the organization.
SWGs can also decrypt HTTPS traffic so they can scan it for malware. They can also route a suspected phishing email to remote browser isolation, a process in which the user’s device opens a risky website in read-only mode to prevent credential theft or malware injection. The gateways can even block sites that decrease productivity, such as social media or explicit websites not meant for the workplace.
Protects Against Data Breach
A secure web gateway protects against data breaches caused by ransomware attacks and malware that try to steal or access sensitive information like login credentials, credit card numbers, medical records, and intellectual property. An SWG filters and blocks content, allowing IT teams to define policies that prevent users from unknowingly visiting malicious websites or downloading suspicious files.
These systems also enable granular viewing of Internet traffic to gain visibility into the entire network’s previous and current site activity. This visibility is essential for detecting potential security breaches, risky behavior, and threats that may have bypassed other endpoint protection devices.
Typically, an SWG filters and blocks outgoing data for any suspicious patterns. Some solutions also feature sandboxing, which emulates an environment to run outgoing data to see how it interacts with other system software. This allows policies to be applied to specific data per regulatory compliance requirements. These advanced security capabilities allow a secure web gateway integral to any business cybersecurity strategy.
Protects Against Identity Theft
In addition to protecting against malware attacks and data breaches, SWGs protect users from identity theft. Many cyber criminals use online pop-ups and phony websites to steal login information, credit card numbers, medical records, and intellectual property. SWGs can prevent these threats by filtering outbound data for specific patterns and phrases that match social security numbers, passwords, bank account information, and other personal information.
SWGs can categorize web traffic based on attributes and fields, allowing security teams to apply policies per regulations such as PCI and GDPR. This granular control increases security and improves compliance.
SWGs can be hardware, software, or cloud-based and work as a proxy between an organization’s internal staff and the Internet. When an employee tries to access a website or app online, the SWG inspects the request and passes it along only if it does not violate established security policies. This is similar to how security guards scan people and their possessions at a physical checkpoint before letting them through. This is how SWGs protect against phishing, social media, and other websites that decrease productivity.
Protects Against Data Loss
Through internet traffic, a secure gateway protects against losing confidential files and intellectual property, such as customer data or proprietary software. It stops malware from calling home, prevents sensitive information like credit card numbers or medical data from leaving an organization, and acts as a barrier against unauthorized applications from accessing internal networks (e.g., P2P file-sharing).
SWGs can be hardware, software, or cloud-based services. Positioned along a network perimeter, they inspect incoming and outgoing web traffic. For incoming web traffic, they inspect and block URLs that are suspicious or known to be malicious, as well as websites that violate company policy.
For outgoing data, they check for patterns and phrases that match social security numbers, credit card numbers, medical records, and other sensitive information to prevent the data from being stolen. A robust SWG will also include remote browser isolation, preventing malicious code from reaching the organizational network by running it in a disposable virtual environment outside the normal endpoint browser. Lastly, an SWG can categorize web traffic to allow for policies to be enforced per regulatory requirements such as PCI and GDPR.
Protects Against Data Exfiltration
A secure web gateway monitors incoming and outgoing data by policies and rules you create with your administrator, ensuring that your organization adheres to the regulations set by regulatory bodies like PCI-DSS and GDPR. It scans and blocks malware to prevent lateral movement within the network infrastructure.
With the rise of remote task forces and cloud computing, many business processes occur outside an organization’s private network. This has led to an increase in cyberattacks targeting internal systems and data. A gateway solution protects against these threats by requiring remote workers to access the Internet through it, preventing malware from calling home or sensitive information from being leaked from employee devices.
A top-rated secure web gateway uses several methods to prevent data exfiltration, including URL filtering. This prevents users from loading websites known to be dangerous by comparing them against a list of blocked sites. Other tools include sandboxing, which executes potentially malicious code in a virtual instance to test for vulnerabilities. The gateway may also encrypt web traffic to protect against attacks that spy on or tamper with the data in transit.