What is a secure web gateway (SWG) for the cloud?


The increase in web access and the spread of remote workforce and enterprise mobility have led to the emergence of security measures such as the cloud-based Secure Web Gateway (SWG). Simply put, an SWG is a browser antimalware proxy solution that detects and filters web traffic.

An SWG uses both traditional and more modern techniques to achieve this, but how exactly does it work, and is this product right for you? Let’s find out below.


What is a Secure Web Gateway?

SWGs have unique features compared to other IT security systems implemented in enterprises for many years, such as Unified Threat Management (UTM), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), prevention systems (IPS) and other computer security systems, which add application control based on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and anti-intrusion, based on activation or authorization, to the firewall. traditional control of port usage, and therefore associated applications, based on policies defined by the company, group, or user.

Thus, an SWG is cybersecurity hardware that secures company information and implements security provisions and policies. This security posture operates between the company’s employees and the Internet (and the cloud). Simply put, an SWG is like a water filter in your kitchen, which will remove all dangerous impurities to make drain water safe to drink. Similarly, an SWG filters dangerous content from web traffic to stop cyber threats and data leaks. They also block risky or unauthorized user behavior.

Why Use a Secure Cloud Web Gateway?

In the past, security business processes mostly took place within an internal corporate network. But with the increased reliance on remote workforces and cloud computing, organizations must use the Internet in addition to internal private networks. And as the variety and number of threats on the Internet continue to grow, from phishing attacks to malware-infected web pages to malicious cloud applications, SWGs are becoming essential for many cloud-dependent organizations. and remote workforce.

How does a secure cloud web gateway work?

Some SWGs work with proxy servers. A proxy server essentially represents a different device on the Internet that makes requests and receives responses on behalf of your device; this is so that if a document contains malware, it remains in the SWG and not in your device. It is important to note that an SWG (this proxy server) can be an actual physical server implemented as local devices or, in some other cases, a cloud-based virtual machine.

Whether an SWG is implemented on-premises or not, all work more or less the same. When a client device (in this case, your computer, phone, or desktop) sends a request to access a website or application, it (the request) first goes through the SWG. The SWG will then inspect the request and forward it back to your device if it finds that it does not violate the established security policies already pre-determined.

It is very similar to physical security; for example, a screening officer at the airport will not only give you the X-ray, but will also check you before letting you through. A similar concept is applied in an SWG where all incoming data is inspected before being transmitted to user devices.

Ideally, an SWG is used by companies that manage remote employees, which typically rely on the cloud. This allows workers to access the internet through a protected gateway (SWG), which prevents data leaks on their employees’ devices and networks.

How do secure web gateways enforce security policies?

For an SWG to work properly, a user must set a policy that all network traffic must follow, for example, that all traffic must be encrypted. This policy would mean that the SWG would block websites that do not use HTTPS. For a SWG to implement all of these policies, it uses the following measures:

URL filtering

URL filtering is a way to control which websites a user can load, like in the example above. URL filtering will usually involve the use of a blocklist. If a user attempts to load a website on the block list, the SWG blocks the request and the website does not load on the user’s device. This is something a firewall will do; it will limit access to sites based on their online reputation. A SWG is similar to the Tinywall firewall, which lets you customize the types of sites you don’t want to access.

Malware scans

Antimalware detection and blocking works the same way as an antivirus, except that an SWG will constantly scan your device and the internet for the most elusive ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks. more evolved. This means that an SWG examines the data passing through and checks whether it matches known malicious code. Some gateways also use sandboxes to check for malware; they run potentially malicious code in a controlled environment to see how it behaves. If malware is detected, the gateway blocks it.

App control

An SWG will detect applications used by employees. This is useful because an SWG can moderate the degree of access an app has to your device. Application control can also extend based on a user’s identity or location.

Content filtering

It works like a firewall that blocks content that the SWG programmer deems inappropriate or dangerous. This naturally needs to be heavily customized by you or the corporate IT department to optimize content filtering policies.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLPs don’t necessarily back up your data to ensure you don’t lose it if your hard drive or cloud is wiped. Instead, a DLP functions as a reverse firewall. It will scan all the data that leaves your device and block it from leaving if it detects that it is sensitive or has company-controlled access. Not all SWGs will count with this modality, but it can be useful to prevent data leaks and protect critical information.

Who Should Get a Secure Cloud Web Gateway?

Not having a secure web gateway isn’t as bad as not having antivirus on your computer, but it’s definitely a good addition. Remember that an SWG is classified as a very advanced layer of protection.

However, a secure web gateway is essential if you run a business that relies heavily on the cloud and has multiple employees working remotely.


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