What is a secure web gateway, and why is it important for your business?

What is a secure web gateway, and why is it important for your business?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many businesses have adopted a work from home setup to stay operational. While this setup helps keep employees productive, it also promotes the use of personal devices and networks that are less secure than typical company systems. This can expose the business to malware, phishing, and other cyberattacks.

To protect your business from these threats, you need to implement security solutions like antivirus software and firewalls as well as a secure web gateway (SWG).

What is an SWG?

An SWG is a cyberbarrier that inspects web requests against an organization's policies to restrict access to malicious websites and applications.

SWGs are increasingly adopted by businesses because of their effectiveness compared to traditional security solutions like firewalls, which often affect network performance and can be easily circumvented by cybercriminals.

How does an SWG work?

Let’s say you want to view an image online. Once you click on its link, your computer will generate an HTTP request. The request is sent to the SWG, which inspects the request to ensure that it’s not directed to a banned or malicious website. Next, the SWG sends the request to the proper server. Once the HTTP request receives the image, the SWG scans it once more, then displays the content.

An SWG provides a higher level of security than traditional security solutions because it uses multiple layers of protection against various threats.

What are the features of an SWG?

An SWG uses cybersecurity technologies like:

1. URL filtering

URL filtering controls access to websites to prevent employees from accessing malicious or inappropriate content. Access is typically granted based on the URL category, machines, or users. URL filtering also enables IT administrators to identify the websites employees visit so they can better understand and manage web activity.

2. Data loss prevention (DLP)

DLP solutions protect businesses from data breaches by identifying, monitoring, and blocking the exfiltration of sensitive data. For instance, a DLP tool can censor personally identifiable information in emails to reduce the risk of data theft.

3. Antivirus and anti-malware software

Antivirus software detects, quarantines, and removes common threats, such as Trojan horses, viruses, and worms. It looks for known virus signatures to prevent threats from damaging your system. Meanwhile, anti-malware software typically focuses on newer threats, such as polymorphic malware and malware delivered by zero-day exploits. Antivirus and anti-malware software complement each other to ensure maximum protection of your systems.

4. Intrusion prevention system (IPS)

An IPS is a network security solution that monitors traffic and blocks suspicious activity, such as unusual logins to your network. It can detect and prevent known attacks as well as zero-day threats. An IPS can also be used to monitor internal activity and prevent data exfiltration.

5. Application control

Application control lets IT administrators create policies based on users to identify, allow, limit, or block the usage of applications. This feature prevents sensitive information from being freely shared across unvetted programs and apps.

What are the benefits of using an SWG?

An SWG enables businesses to:

  • Improve security: An SWG provides a higher level of security than traditional security solutions because it uses multiple layers of protection against various threats.
  • Reduce costs: Because an SWG consolidates multiple security solutions into one, you can save on licensing, maintenance, and support fees.
  • Simplify management: An SWG is much easier to manage than traditional security solutions because it displays important web activities on a single dashboard.
  • Improve productivity: By preventing employees from accessing content that can distract them from their work, an SWG can help improve workplace productivity.

What are the challenges of using an SWG?

Due to its multiple layers of protection, an SWG may sometimes block legitimate traffic, preventing employees from accessing work-related online resources.An SWG can also be challenging to deploy and configure as it requires a deep understanding of web traffic and network security.

Fortunately, reliable managed IT services providers like NetQuest can help deploy an SWG for your Baltimore, Annapolis, or Towson company. We will also protect your IT infrastructure from all known cyberthreats 24/7/365, so your business can operate without the risk of downtime. To learn more about our services, drop us a line today.

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