At Securus Communications, we believe that the Secure Web Gateway (SWG) security model offers a cost-effective security solution for all businesses, from SME’s to huge multinationals.

With massive uplift in cloud computing, remote working and anywhere operations (AO), the demand placed on IT Teams to deliver secure end-to-end network services has never been so intense.

Users can now be located anywhere on the planet, yet still have fast and efficient access to every security teams nemesis, the public internet. They need to share sensitive data with other team members, existing clients, and potential new customers, therefore introducing additional risk.

As networks evolve, the security perimeter has become more and more disjointed. Access requirements to allow BYOD, IoT, and trusted 3rd party access only add to the overall problem. Secure Web Gateway can help.

What Is Secure Web Gateway?

Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is a security layer positioned between the user and the public internet to provide advanced security protection from a multitude of cyber threats.

Cyber threats such as malicious websites, viruses and ransomware can be identified, defended against, and alerted upon, all in real-time. SWG is more than just an application-layer firewall; it is a security defence model that can be delivered on-prem, cloud, or as part of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) network architecture model.

Main Features Of Secure Web Gateway

Key security features of Secure Web Gateway include URL filtering, SSL Inspection, Antivirus, Application Control, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP). Secure Web Gateway also provides seamless integration into the SASE network architecture. Let’s now cover each feature in a little more detail.

URL Filtering

URL filtering is a security feature that allows administrators to restrict access to certain malicious or inappropriate websites by URL. What’s more, even the URL of a single web page can be blocked.

Web content ‘categories’ such as alcohol, gambling, firearms and nudity can also be filtered. These ‘categories’ can be applied globally, regardless of which website they are identified on, so your users are protected.

Rather than blocking access to a particular website or streaming service, security administrators can also apply bandwidth limitations that allocate a defined amount of bandwidth per URL.

URL filtering also has extensive logging capabilities. Administrators can identify which websites are being visited by which employees, and log this information, including timestamp and session duration.

SSL Inspection

SSL Inspection (also known as HTTPS Inspection) is a method of intercepting encrypted SSL traffic that flows between a users web browser and the website server. Encrypted HTTPS traffic can be seamlessly decrypted, inspected, and re-encrypted as it traverses the Secure Web Gateway.

This process allows antivirus and anti-malware services to scan for threats within the encrypted HTTPS traffic payload that would typically be impossible to evaluate thoroughly. 

Many email solutions now use end-to-end encryption, so SSL filtering is perfect for email inspection and filtering designed to seek and destroy potential phishing and ransomware attacks.

SSL Inspection may not be an option for data from trusted applications containing personal information, patient records, or financial information due to regularity compliance. These data types can be added to a bypass policy so that the data is left full encrypted end-to-end. 

Antivirus, Malware & Ransomware Protection

The internet can be like the wild west, but rather than bullets flying, it’s malicious software designed to either steal your data, destroy it, or hold you to ransom for its safe return. SWG’s antivirus & ransomware scanning feature is a must.

Although most workstations and laptops will run local antivirus software, cracks begin to appear if it’s not updated with the latest version. Devices such as mobile phones, IoT and BYOD devices are seldom running localised antivirus protection and are incredibly insecure. 

By scanning for specific data signatures that may be hidden in the payload of user traffic, Secure Web Gateway can run a search-and-destroy mission for the latest virus, malware, trojans and ransomware threats.

Application Control

As the use of apps, widgets and plugins increase, Application Control is becoming an integral part of overall network security. Secure Web Gateway allows administrators to create user or group based policies that can restrict or limit the usage of particular application type, defined risk-level and potential business ‘productivity loss’ score.

Non-corporate applications such as instant messaging, dating, social media, games, and video streaming can all be easily profiled and restricted.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP is a feature integrated into SWG that allows administrators to restrict the flow of sensitive data across the network and beyond. Network administrators can create one or more Data Loss Prevention policies that define how the movement of sensitive data is handled.

These powerful DLP policies can track events and control data movement in real-time, helping maintain compliance with ever-changing industry regulations and standards. This Data Loss Prevention feature is easily managed and maintained from a central SWG admin portal.

SASE Integration

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a network architecture that combines SD-WAN capabilities with enhanced security features, delivered as a single, robust service. 

Custom security policies can be created by the Secure Web Gateway (SWG) element of SASE. Each user session is restricted to the network entity’s identity (e.g. user, device or location) and the ‘context’ of that connection (e.g. data sensitivity, storage location, trust level).

The organisation’s security and compliance policies can then be applied while conducting an ongoing assessment of the risks present during each session.

Secure Web Gateway vs NGFW Firewall

The Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are both designed to protect your network, yet they go about security in subtly different ways.

Next-Generation Firewalls inspect traffic at the application layer and can identify and protect against a multitude of security threats. However, they do so in a more individual manner, with one firewall not knowing which threats other firewalls are currently defending against.

As malware, ransomware, viruses and phishing attacks evolve and grow ever more sophisticated, a well-orchestrated response is necessary. This is where SWG comes into its own, with its ability to have centrally managed and maintained security policies and threat signatures that are rolled out to the entire gateway in an instant, and monitored in real-time.

Secure Web Gateway focuses more on using these central security policies to identify and protect against advanced internet-based threats at the application layer that can evolve and mutate in a heartbeat.

Benefits Of Secure Web Gateway

There are many network security benefits with the Secure Web Gateway (SWG) model that no company should ignore.  SWG is centrally managed, and its protection is far-reaching. Branch sites, remote workers, cloud, and edge can all fall under the same umbrella of security protection from SWG. 

  • Inline malware & virus protection
  • Malicious website blocking with URL filtering
  • Ransomware prevention
  • Email filtering
  • Security for remote users 
  • Central security policy enforcement
  • Real-time security monitoring
  • SSL Inspection
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Decisive application control

Conclusion

With business-crippling cyber-attacks on the rise and ever sophisticated ransomware attacks occurring daily, the legacy model of placing firewalls (even NGFW) at every ingress point of your network needs urgent review.

The Secure Web Gateway (SWG) model has a multitude of security features designed to protect your network in this modern age of cybercrime. Securus Communications is well-placed to help you better understand the overall concept of SWG, and the relevant pros & cons for your business.

SWG can also be fully integrated into the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) model to allow your business to efficiently and securely move and share data between users whilst maintaining stringent security policies.

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