There are over 3.4 billion phishing emails sent out per day. It takes only one wrong click and you could be the subject of a data breach headline. A recent study found that 39 percent of workers use personal devices to access corporate resources that are hosted in the cloud. This presents a major challenge for IT administrators that must think differently about online security, as the shift to a hybrid work model has become the norm.
A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) can help prevent phishing attacks and other forms of sophisticated malware that might be accidentally downloaded onto a personal device. Secure Web Gateways analyze internal network traffic to detect malicious content and ensure compliance with security policies.
Despite its ever-growing importance, some companies are still unsure about how a Secure Web Gateway can be used as a network security tactic. Let’s take a closer look at how a SWG works.
What is a Secure Web Gateway?
A Secure Web Gateway is a form of network security that protects users accessing the internet from online cyber threats. It prevents malicious traffic from getting into the network. Admins have the ability to whitelist or blacklist specific URLs. These IP addresses or domains will be inaccessible to everyone to which the filter was applied. This provides a much safer browsing experience with fewer reported security incidents.
It is also an essential part of enforcing company security policies as it filters traffic coming into and leaving the network.
The benefits of traffic filtering include reduced bandwidth costs and faster network connectivity, resulting in better overall performance and a highly improved user experience. You’re also able to track and monitor all user activity to keep a constant pulse on your organization’s online security health posture.
How to Strengthen Network Security Using a Secure Web Gateway
So how can you use a Secure Web Gateway to enforce your company’s security policies and strengthen your network security?
Security policies are rules that all traffic and data within the company network must conform to. For example, a company may set up a policy that all incoming traffic must be encrypted. This would mean blocking sites that don’t use HTTPS encryption. A Secure Web Gateway will be useful in enforcing this rule and filtering out non-conforming sites.
Here are 4 ways a Secure Web Gateway can protect an organization’s security posture:
URL Filtering involves limiting the type of site users can access. Certain sites such as gaming or social media can be blocked or warned from accessing the sites. An administrator can uplift restrictions or allow a site to be used for work purposes only. This helps eliminate distractions and improve employee productivity.
Malware can easily slip through the cracks if undetected. 72 percent of encrypted malware was classified as zero-day, which is when an attacker exploits software vulnerabilities that are unknown to the developer.
Secure Web Gateways monitor your network traffic for any signs of malicious activity. HTTPS inspection or SSL inspection is the process of analyzing encrypted web traffic by searching for any traces of malware.
Data is scrambled and unreadable to a potential hacker via SSL encryption. This process is highly effective in the detection and prevention of hidden malware.
Secure Web Gateways control application access as well. It can detect the application an employee is using and limit the resources each application can access. Other applications might be completely blocked.
Sometimes Secure Web Gateways have a more complex form of security control. In this case, access to certain applications or resources can be restricted based on the user’s location, identity, or position within the company. Organizations can isolate third-party access with a Zero Trust Application Access solution by creating secure encrypted tunnels to specific applications.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Every organization should have a plan of action to prevent data leakage which could cause a major compliance breach. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a form of content filtering that prevents sensitive content such as credit cards or company financial forecasts from leaving the network. Not all Secure Web Gateways support DLP, but it is a critical component for detecting anomalies or suspicious behavior. It is also a good selling point when building trust among customers.
A Secure Web Gateway remains an integral part of any organization’s network security plan. It provides total network visibility, detects for malware, safeguards company resources, and minimizes the online threat surface.
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