Understanding the Importance of a Secure Web Gateway for Your Online Safety

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Website security illustration
Image source: Google.com

As cyberattacks continue to grow and employees move to remote workplace settings, a secure web gateway is needed for a layered security strategy. 90% of malware incidents leverage the internet to breach defenses and wreak havoc across an organization. SWGs can be a hardware device or software application that sits along the network perimeter and enforces acceptable use policies for web access. They also categorize data for compliance purposes and reduce alert fatigue by infusing solid threat intelligence.

Malware

A gateway’s security system can prevent malicious code from executing on a device. It works by scanning the web, DNS, and email traffic for malware codes that may not be safe. These suspicious codes are then sent to a secure environment and tested for functionality; if they are harmful, they will be blocked. Users install many unauthorized applications on their devices, increasing a network’s attack surface. Employees may also use cloud-based or shadow IT applications, which can be more challenging to manage or track. A CASB (secure web gateway) can help control, monitor, and manage shadow IT and popular cloud applications. In addition to preventing malware, SWG software inspects data flows to and from the network. This can include detecting and blocking access to dangerous URLs and ensuring data does not leak out of the organization. SWG software can also identify potential breaches and prioritize incidents based on their value and severity. SWGs can be deployed in-house, in the cloud, or as a hybrid solution. They can be a physical appliance or a virtual machine and operate as a workload, server, application layer filter, or proxy. Some can also perform MITM for SSL inspection, which provides additional granular control over data and applications for better compliance with regulatory standards.

Phishing

A gateway is a hardware or a virtual appliance that sits along your network perimeter. It filters all web traffic that passes through it by checking it against your organization’s security policies in real time. If it detects something terrible for the network, it’ll stop that action from occurring and notify your team in real time. Most organizations can deploy their gateways as a cloud-based SaaS solution or in hardware. Many combine the two, with hardware at more significant sites and a SaaS solution for remote locations and employees. The best gateways will be able to identify higher-risk applications by analyzing current data and applying contextual security rules based on that information. They should also be able to detect patterns of behavior that can indicate the onset of a malware attack and then take steps to prevent it from happening.

Most importantly, a top-rated gateway will provide the best protection for your business by encrypting all web traffic that flows through it. This is done by converting sensitive data into scrambled code that isn’t easily deciphered, even if intercepted. It will then filter out the unencrypted data before it can enter your network. This will block all unauthorized incoming data and protect you against malicious threats that can cause serious harm to your business.

Identity Theft

SWGs offer protection against identity theft by detecting phishing, malware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks that aim to gain access to an organization’s sensitive data. By blocking unsecured internet traffic and filtering content, SWGs protect the network from these attacks while maintaining business productivity. With more organizations embracing remote task forces and working from different locations, security controls must be extended to these uncontrolled endpoints on public networks. SWGs can extend these controls to remote workers and provide the web-based threat protection essential to an organization’s digital foundation. By leveraging advanced threat defense techniques, SWGs can inspect and act on all internet traffic entering and leaving the network. This includes URL filtering based on categories such as sexually explicit content, malware sites, and more to enforce corporate policies. They also perform real-time analysis on P2P applications – popular for sharing music, movies, games, and other files – to localize and block higher security risks. Most SWGs support https inspection, a feature allowing them to inspect SSL-encrypted traffic. This enables the gateway to decrypt the traffic, scan and inspect it, and then re-encrypt it before sending it back to its sender. Any attackers trying to spy or tamper with encrypted traffic can only see a long string of undecipherable scrambled characters.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware that prevents users from accessing their computer and files by locking or encrypting them. Attackers display an on-screen alert saying that access will be blocked permanently unless the user pays a ransom, often in virtual currency like Bitcoin. Infections can happen through email attachments or downloading infected files. Cybercriminals are known to target groups that they believe may have more money and fewer security defenses. This includes schools and school districts, hospitals and health care systems, large meatpackers, transportation providers, and local government agencies. Ransomware is not easily removed from infected systems, but granular reporting and analysis can help identify infected machines and disconnect them from networks to limit the attack’s scope. It is also essential to have regular backups and keep them secure. Ensure backups are stored offline on hard drives and other devices that can be physically disconnected from the network. This helps to thwart attacks that seek data backups and encrypt or delete them. Regular cybersecurity awareness training can teach employees to spot suspicious emails and websites. Using a secure web gateway to scan web browsing can also help reduce the risk of phishing attacks and ransomware. Finally, a full image backup of all systems can prevent critical data loss if an attack occurs.