What is a Secure Web Gateway Solution?
Secure Web Gateway Solutions Defined
A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) protects an organization from a wide range of threats by monitoring web activity and blocking traffic that seems suspicious or violates security policy. A secure web gateway solution may be a physical appliance, a software solution or a cloud-based service. Located at the edge of a network – between users and the internet – SWG solutions deploy a variety of protections including URL filtering, malicious code detection and filtering, application control, data loss prevention, antivirus and HTTPS inspection.
Because of fundamental changes to IT environments and a rapidly evolving threat landscape, secure web gateway solutions have become an essential technology for protecting organizations and their data, networks and users. By applying security policies to incoming and outgoing web traffic, SWG security solutions can block malicious traffic, viruses, malware and ransomware from accessing a network, and prevent users from accessing malicious websites or downloading malicious content. This web security solution can also enforce acceptable use policies, preventing users from accessing social media, online shopping sites or other websites deemed inappropriate or unacceptable during business hours.
How a Secure Web Gateway Solution Works
A secure web gateway service, software or appliance inspects all web-related traffic entering or leaving the network and allows it to move along only if it does not violate the organization’s security policies. To accomplish this, a web secure gateway solution relies on various technologies.
- URL filtering. Using a database of websites and website categories that are known to be malicious, a secure web gateway solution can prevent malicious payloads from being downloaded, stop malware from calling home and block malicious code from using internet-based resources.
- Anti-malware scanning. SWGs can inspect web content in real time to identify malicious code, blocking access to it or removing it to provide users with a malware-free webpage.
- Application control. SWG solutions let administrators create granular policies to block or limit the use of web applications and widgets to ensure that data used by applications or shared with applications is private and secure.
- Data loss prevention (DLP). SWGs inspect outbound traffic to search for phrases, patterns and content such as credit card data, personal health information, Social Security numbers, intellectual property and other sensitive data. When an SWG detects a potential data leak or loss, it can block the traffic, quarantine it, enforce encryption and alert security teams.
- Antivirus controls. Using real-time virus signatures, SWGs detect, prevent and remove viruses and other threats like Trojans or adware.
- HTTPS inspection. Secure web gateways scan and secure SSL-encrypted traffic as it passes through the gateway, decrypting the traffic with the sender’s public key and re-encrypting it after inspection.
- Access control. To ensure productivity and security, administrators may configure an SWG to restrict access to the internet based on schedules or the type of content being accessed.
The Challenges of Deploying an SWG
For all its benefits, a secure web gateway solution may present IT teams with several challenges.
- Performance issues. Organizations using legacy SWGs may see a loss of performance in locations with low bandwidth, a result of routing all traffic through the secure web gateway. Performance issues can increase costs, slow web traffic, reduce productivity and cause frustration for users.
- Time-consuming upgrades. Legacy secure web gateway solutions must be continually updated to keep pace with an evolving threat landscape and new attack vectors. When updates are too time-consuming or require expertise that an organization lacks, short-staffed IT teams may postpone or skip updates, creating vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit.
- Complex management requirements. Secure web gateway solutions that are deployed as a standalone security tactic often become one more point solution that overwhelmed IT teams must manage.
Organizations can overcome these challenges by deploying next-generation SWGs as part of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) approach to security.
Advantages of a Secure Web Gateway
A superior secure web gateway solution offers many benefits to organizations and security teams.
- Stronger protection. By inspecting all web traffic, SWGs discover threats that may evade detection by firewalls and other security solutions. Often, a secure web gateway solution is the only way to detect and prevent an attack. SWGs can decrypt traffic to ensure there are no threats hidden in encrypted content. SWG technology can also protect users by blocking access to high-risk and malicious websites and applications.
- Uniform policy enforcement. Secure web gateway solutions can enforce security policy across a highly distributed IT environment, enabling employees to safely work from anywhere.
- Increased visibility. By constantly monitoring and logging web-based activity within the organization’s network, an SWG solution delivers deeper visibility and control over web traffic and how the network may be targeted by attackers.
- Easier compliance. Secure web gateways enable policies around regulatory requirements to be applied at the user level. This can be especially helpful for complying with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA or PCI DSS that have strict requirements for how data must be handled.
A Secure Web Gateway Solution from Forcepoint
As part of Forcepoint ONE – an all-in-one, cloud-native security platform – Forcepoint’s secure web gateway solution enables users to securely access any website or download any document while enjoying the high-speed performance required for productivity. As a leader among secure web gateway vendors, Forcepoint offers a solution that monitors and controls all web activity, blocks access to websites, prevents downloads of malware, stops uploads of sensitive data and detects shadow IT.
With Forcepoint ONE SWG, organizations and security teams can:
- Ensure safe access with high-speed performance. Administrators can apply security policies in the cloud or on endpoints with distributed enforcement for secure, high-speed access to the web.
- Enforce Zero Trust. Remote Browser Isolation tools protect against compromised or untrusted websites while Content Disarm & Reconstruction capabilities enable users to safely download any document.
- Extend best-in-class DLP to the web. Forcepoint ONE SWG secures data in use across the web with 190+ pre-defined data security policies and customized controls that streamline compliance.
- Streamlined management. With Forcepoint ONE SWG, administrators can set policies once and apply them everywhere, including cloud apps and private apps.