A secure web gateway (SWG) is a cybersecurity solution that protects your network against unwanted software or malware users may encounter on the web. It does this by granting your IT or SecOps team granular control over what users on the company network can do while online. For example, your team can use an SWG to prevent users from connecting to sites that pose a security risk. Your team can also use a secure web gateway to control what users can do using web-based applications, enforcing company policies, or lowering the risk of data loss.
In this blog, we unpack how a secure web gateway can fit into your security stack. And if you’re ready to invest in an SWG security solution, we recommend downloading our free Gartner™ Quick Answer: How Do We Optimize the Cost of Secure Web Gateways?1 In this guide, analysts discuss ways you can make the most of your investment by optimizing your SWG to fit your organization or planning and monitoring SWG usage to avoid surprise expenses.
Why Does Your Organization Need a Secure Web Gateway?
Gone are the days of poorly spelled letters from fake foreign dignitaries – modern cyberattacks look sophisticated enough that even the internet-savvy can fall victim to them. Instead, users might receive a professional-looking email prompting them to click on a link and update their login information for a popular tool. Or, they may encounter a pop-up warning them that their security software is out of date and an update needs to be downloaded immediately.
Attackers design these online pop-ups and phony websites to look almost identical to the real versions. And the prompts seem just legitimate enough to entice users to input their login information, share sensitive information like bank account numbers, or download a file. This is where a secure web gateway comes in handy.
How Does an SWG Fix These Security Problems?
While training users to recognize scams and practice good online safety is important, having an SWG in your security stack also gives your team the tools to protect your network when user error happens. Think of a secure web gateway like a security post between your organization’s network and the open web. With an SWG, your team can inspect any traffic traveling from your network to the web, or from the web to your network. And if that traffic poses a risk to your network, your security team can use an SWG to block it.
A secure web gateway can be used to:
Enable Web Filtering by Category, Domain, or URL
A secure web gateway gives your IT or security team granular control over the kinds of websites that users can access when on your network. Frequently, teams use this functionality to keep users from unwittingly accessing known malicious domains. However, it can also be used to enforce company policies. Don’t want employees accessing adult content on your network? Want to prevent employees from spending their work hours on social media? An SWG puts your team in control over employees’ web-based activities.
Perform Malware Analytics on Suspicious Files
Some domains have developed a reputation for hosting malicious programs. Others are more dubious. For example, popular aggregation sites often host both benign and malicious files. Your security team can use an SWG to safely inspect files, figuring out whether they pose a risk to your network before allowing users to download them.
Detect Malicious Code and Prevent Users From Downloading Files Containing It
If your team finds that a file on the web contains malicious code, they can use a secure web gateway to prevent users from downloading it. This is especially useful on sites mimicking legitimate sources, where users may assume that they’re downloading a much-needed program or software update.
Control Web-Based Application Use
These days, web-based applications keep enterprises afloat, enabling collaboration or allowing employees to easily access business-critical data. However, unsanctioned web apps – like file sharing apps or cloud data storage tools -can expose an organization to the risk of data loss. With a secure web gateway, your team can put controls on how these web apps can be used and block those deemed risky.
Ready to Integrate an SWG in Your Security Stack?
Download the Gartner™ Quick Answer: How Do We Optimize the Cost of Secure Web Gateways? today to learn some tips for fitting an SWG into your budget and making the most of your investment.
1 Gartner, Quick Answer: How Do We Optimize the Cost of Secure Web Gateways?. John Watts, Lawrence Orans, 15 Apr 2021.