What is an SWG (Secure Web Gateway)?
Remove data breaches from the equation by filtering the content your employees are able to access while connected to the company network!
SWG (Secure Web Gateway) is a product used for cyber security that implements security measures and secures sensitive data. This product works between the Internet and the employees of the company. To learn more about the SWG, we can compare it to a water filter which gets rid of all the nasty particles from the water and makes it safe for drinking. SWG goes through the content on the Internet and filters everything that is considered unsafe in order to stop data breaches and cyber threats. Also, this product blocks any unauthorized or risky user behavior.
Every SWG product has these technologies:
- Anti-Malware detection and blocking
- URL filtering
- Application control
SWGs may also have content filtering, DLP (data loss prevention), and other similar Internet traffic filters.
Why are SWGs important?
Until 2020, most business processes took place within the company’s internal network. However, with the increase of remote workers and cloud computing, many organizations have decided to use the Internet on top of their secure private networks or entirely instead of internal networks. The Internet is filled with numerous cyber threats, including phishing attacks and malware, and with the use of SWGs, many organizations can protect themselves.
How does it work?
There are some SWGs that actually run on proxy servers. Proxy servers represent devices on the Internet that make requests on behalf of the client and receive responses. A proxy server can either be a virtual machine in the cloud or a physical server for an SWG.
There are also SWGs that are software-only. They can either run in the cloud or on the company’s grounds. The last type of SWGs can be deployed as on-site appliances. Those are physical hardware devices that need to be plugged directly into the IT infrastructure.
It doesn’t matter where or how SWGs are deployed; they all work pretty much the same. The client sends a request to a certain website or application, and the request needs to go through the SWG. The SWG will inspect the request before passing it along, but only if it complies with the security policies, just like a security guard wouldn’t let some suspicious person inside a building. This process looks the same in reverse. All incoming data needs to be inspected by the SWG, and only then can it be forwarded to the user.
SWGs have become very helpful for managing remote workers because they can run anywhere. Workers are required to access the Internet through an SWG, meaning companies will be able to prevent data breaches much easier, even if they don’t have control over the devices or networks of workers.
How does an SWG enforce a security policy?
First of all, a security policy is a rule made to prevent data breaches or other cyber attacks. All network traffic and data within a company must follow every security policy in order to keep everything secure. For example, companies can set up a rule that requires all network traffic to be encrypted. By enforcing this policy, every website that doesn’t start with HTTPS will be blocked. SWG is just one of the ways to implement a security policy because it can filter out all network traffic that doesn’t start with HTTPS.
SWGs have several purposes and can perform several actions on the web traffic that needs to be inspected and forwarded in order to enforce security policies:
SWGs scan network traffic for malware. In other words, they examine the data passing through and compare it to the already-known malware. The data will be blocked if the code matches, preventing data breaches. Some SWGs can use sandboxing to test for malware. This means that they execute potentially hazardous code in a controlled environment to see what it would do if it got into the company’s network.
Keep in mind that much network traffic on the Internet is encrypted with HTTPS. In order to scan the traffic for malware, multiple SWGs can decrypt HTTPS traffic. After the inspection is done, the gateway will encrypt all the traffic once again and will forward it to the person or device who made the request. Also, a web server can make this request on behalf of the user. The name of this process is HTTPS inspection, and it is used by many companies in order to keep all their data secure.
Encryption is the process of changing data so that it becomes random to anyone who is looking at it. You won’t be able to get anything useful out of this encrypted data until it is decrypted by using the proper software. Decryption could be considered like the reverse process of encryption.
URL can be found at the top of the browser when a page loads. That is a long line of text that will lead you to the place you are looking for. URL filtering is used as a way of controlling which sites a user can open up.
URL filtering usually has a blocklist. A blocklist is a list that has all the known bad sites or sites that aren’t allowed by the admin. If a user tries to load one of the sites from the blocklist, the SWG will block the request, and the site won’t load on the device.
SWGs are also used to monitor which applications employees are using. Thanks to that information, they can control what users can access and what should be blocked. Some SWGs are a little more advanced, and they can have more control over the users. For example, administrators can control which applications a user can use based on their identity or location.
SWG has other capabilities like:
- Content filtering: This feature is used to detect specific kinds of content in order to block that content if necessary. For example, content filtering can block all explicit photos or videos from getting inside the corporate network. IT administrators can customize the content filtering policy as they wish in order to keep the entire organization as secure as possible.
- DLP (Data Loss Prevention): For starters, this feature is only offered by some SWGs, but it is, in fact, highly effective in preventing security breaches. This feature could be considered content filtering, but only in reverse. Instead of preventing any malicious data from coming into the company’s network, it prevents content from leaving the secure private network. DLP will detect when the sensitive date is going out from a secure environment and will block the date from leaking or just redact it. For example, if a 16-digit number appears in an email, DLP will stop it because that is the same amount of numbers a credit card has. The company will do its best to protect its employees’ credit card information, but above all, prevent the leak of a company account.
How will SWG fit into a SASE model?
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) combines various security functions, including SWGs, with networking functions and delivers them from one global network.
SWG is a single-solution product, like many other security products, that can be managed separately from other network security functions and networking. If a SASE framework is put in place, companies will be able to maintain and implement their network security and networks from one cloud-based provider.
How can SWG keep your web traffic secure?
Regardless of the security provider you choose, your SWG will offer advanced security in order to protect both sensitive corporate data and employees. The SWG will use the best type of filtering to block all malicious content and will give administrators a complete report of web traffic. By implementing this security, users will be protected from hazardous code by not being able to access already-known bad websites.
Employers shouldn’t risk getting their data leaked and should do everything possible to prevent that from happening. Of course, administrators can only control some of what the employees will do during their working hours. Still, specific security measures can prevent them from accessing harmful sites that could harm the company and other employees. By simply putting SWG in place, the security team will be able to create a blocklist with all the sites already known as harmful, meaning users won’t be able to load sites that aren’t required to do all the work for the company.
How can TechProComp help you?
Protecting your company and all sensitive data should be your top priority. You wouldn’t want to get infected by malware or other viruses that can be found on harmful websites. By choosing TechProComp, you will be getting an SWG that will help you control your web traffic and restrict employees from accessing known bad sites while connected to the company network.
SWG is just one of the tools that will help you protect your company and all your employees. If the company data is leaked, it can harm your business more than you can imagine. It’s better to be safe and put all the security measures in place before it’s too late. If you have any additional questions about SWGs or how they work, feel free to contact our support team, which will give you all the answers you are looking for.