Secure Web Gateway: an Overview
A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is a security technology designed to protect organizations, networks, users and devices from internet-related threats. SWGs perform two primary functions: they filter out unsafe content from web traffic, and they block risky or unauthorized user behavior.
Web-borne threats are growing as workforces become more remote, networks increasingly distributed, and companies relying more heavily on software as a service (SaaS) solutions. In this environment, a Secure Web Gateway is an integral part of a multi-layered approach to security. Yet, because SWGs can impact performance, choosing the right technology is essential.
How a Secure Web Gateway Works
A Secure Web Gateway may be a software solution, a cloud-based service or a physical appliance. Positioned at the edge of a network, SWGs inspect incoming and outgoing traffic, using company policy to determine whether web traffic should be allowed, blocked or quarantined.
Features of a Secure Web Gateway may include:
- URL filtering. A Secure Web Gateway can block user access to specific URLs, including websites that are known to be suspicious or malicious or that violate company policy.
- Application control. By determining which applications employees are using, SWGs can control the resources that various applications can access or block dangerous or unauthorized applications altogether.
- Data loss prevention (DLP). To prevent data leaks and loss, Secure Web Gateways can inspect traffic leaving the network and block any sensitive, confidential or unauthorized content from being maliciously or inadvertently leaked.
- Antivirus software. Using real-time virus signatures, SWGs can proactively detect, prevent and mitigate viruses, trojans and adware.
- HTTPS inspection. Secure Web Gateways can scan and secure SSL encrypted traffic by decrypting it with the sender’s public key, inspecting and filtering out illegitimate traffic, then re-encrypting the content and sending it back to the sender.
- Anti-malware detection and blocking. By comparing code in internet traffic to known malware, SWGs can block malware within internet traffic or in files uploaded or downloaded.
- Access control. To enforce acceptable use policies and compliance requirements, SWGs may restrict access to the internet and websites at specific times, by the roles of individual users, or by the type of websites visited.
The Benefits of a Secure Web Gateway
With Secure Web Gateway technology, organizations can:
- Block threats effectively. SWGs can block access to malicious websites and applications, prevent malware infections, and enforce compliance policies and regulations to keep users, data and the organization safe.
- Enforce security policies for workers everywhere. Security inevitably becomes more complex as workforces grow increasingly distributed. A Secure Web Gateway can enforce security policies anywhere, allowing employees to authenticate and use the web safely anywhere they work.
- Prevent data leaks. From customer information and credit card numbers to personally identifiable information and intellectual property, SWGs can prevent sensitive and important data from being accidentally or purposefully leaked.
- Support SASE architecture. Secure Web Gateways are an integral part of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) approach to security, along with Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN).
Challenges of Implementing Secure Web Gateway
Despite the ability of Secure Web Gateways to protect users, data and organizations, implementing SWGs may present several challenges for IT teams.
- Added complexity. When deployed as a standalone environment, SWG functionality can become one more security point product to manage. However, when integrated with other security technologies as part of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) approach to security, security teams can gain greater visibility and control over web access while enforcing security policies more easily.
- Poor user experiences. When securing internet traffic with traditional infrastructure, organizations can see a loss of performance in low-bandwidth locations. This drives up costs and slows web traffic, hindering productivity and frustrating users.
- Continual upgrades. As threats evolve and cyber criminals develop new avenues of attack, legacy gateway technology must be constantly updated. Yet the cost, time and expertise required to do so is often prohibitive, causing IT teams to postpone or skip critical updates and leaving gateways vulnerable to attack.
Forcepoint Secure Web Gateway
To solve the challenges of implementing Secure Web Gateways, Forcepoint SWG – part of the Forcepoint ONE security platform – offers distributed enforcement that allows organizations to adjust SWG inspection based on the needs of the workforce. Forcepoint can decrypt and inspect traffic in the cloud or locally on endpoint devices, foregoing the need for on-premises appliances, VPNs or extended network hops to distant proxies.
Forcepoint delivers SWG technology that is:
- Fast. Distributed enforcement enables remarkable speed. Forcepoint routes traffic directly to destinations with fewer bottlenecks and chokepoints.
- Flexible. Hosted on AWS in over 300 data centers, Forcepoint SWG scales up or down automatically with traffic needs.
- Reliable. Since 2015, Forcepoint SWG has delivered 99.99% uptime. Over 300 points of presence (PoPs) ensure low latency.
With Forcepoint SWG, you can:
- Streamline security. Forcepoint SWG is part of Forcepoint ONE, a Security Service Edge (SSE) cloud-native platform that simplifies cybersecurity with an all-in-one solution that is easy to deploy, configure and manage.
- Block threats. Forcepoint SWG automatically scans file uploads and downloads for malware, discovering and quarantining threats before they can get to the network.
- Reduce risk. Multiple forms of protection help to guard against web-borne malware by enabling Zero Trust-based advanced threat protection, in-line scanning of downloaded files and the ability to block categories of websites.
- Get control over shadow IT. Quickly identify managed and unmanaged cloud apps in real-time and detect when users attempt to share data on non-managed cloud apps.
- Strengthen DLP. Forcepoint SWG offers advanced DLP capabilities to keep sensitive information from leaking onto websites and shadow IT applications.