Secure Web Gateway

What Is A Secure Web Gateway (SWG)? 

What is a Secure Web Gateway, you ask? Think of it as a guard when you enter a restaurant or hotel; the job of the guard is to make sure you don’t have any inappropriate items with you, nor does the restaurant have any safety issues. Once these prerequisites are ensured, you can then enter the restaurant safely and securely. Just like this, a secure web gateway is the guard of your web. It protects the user from inappropriate Internet threats and further applies the rules and regulations of corporate user policies.

Whenever a user opens their browser and tries to work on a website, the secure web gateway (SWG) will first ensure network security. Then the user will be able to gain internet access to the website. After this, there are no restrictions, and the users are free to perform all sorts of functions like URL filtering, etc. Secure web gateway work was started in the late nineteenth century and is now operating in thousands of industries worldwide.

The need for a Secure Web Gateway arose when multiple cyber attacks on numerous well-known and well-established companies resulted in their downfall. A huge number of employees and their jobs were affected. Furthermore, loyal customers were lost, and sensitive data was leaked. Secure Web Gateways protect data and ensure that the web traffic is safe and secure.

A secure web gateway (SWG) is a solution to a lot of these problems. It enables the user and the owners to:

  • Protect and safeguard their clients’ sensitive data.
  • Prevent unauthorized transfer of data outside the company’s parameters.
  • Block access to any inappropriate content.
  • Implement their policies firmly so as to ensure a safe internet usage.
  • Prevent unnecessary threats.

What Are The Basic Components Of A Secure Web Gateway? 

Any Secure Web Gateway has the following security services:

  • URL scanning and filtering
  • Malware detection
  • Data Loss Prevention Services
  • Filtering of malicious traffic
  • Scanning the entire web traffic

How Do Secure Web Gateways Enforce Security Policies?

Every company has its network security policies. Some are more strict, and some are lenient. But no matter how lenient a company’s security policy might be, every organization keeps its customer’s data protection at the top of the list.

So, how do secure web gateways help implement network security policies? For example, data encryption is the policy of a company. In such a case, a user would be prevented from using any website that doesn’t have HTTPS. Secure web gateways will filter out non-HTTPS websites before giving access to the employee.

Secure Web Gateways work in the following ways:

URL filtering 

A URL is a line of information that appears on the top area of your Web Browser whenever an action is performed.

Secure Web Gateways can filter these URLs for malicious websites and block the user from gaining access if the website seems risky.

This type of URL filtering is very similar to a blacklist; all the restricted websites are placed in a separate list. Whenever a user tries to gain access to such a website, the action is blocked, and the website does not load. This security architecture helps in policy enforcement and helps to prevent unsecured internet traffic.

Anti-Malware Scanning 

Secure Web Gateways can detect Web malware very efficiently as well. When a user accesses a website, the SWGs first scan for malware, and if any malware code matches up with previous records, the action is blocked.

Secure Web Gateways also function via sandboxing. In this technique, they scan websites that might look risky and search for their codes. If a suspicious code is detected, the website is added to the blacklist, and users are prevented from accessing it. All this occurs in the company’s premises under a controlled environment.

Many secure web gateways do “HTTPS Inspection. ” This is an extra protective step. A lot of websites are encrypted with HTTPS. What secure web gateways do is decrypt these HTTPS websites and scan them for any malfunction or malware properties. After properly inspecting, the gateway re-encrypts the websites and gives internet access to the user.

Application Control

Secure Web Gateways check the web applications used by the various employees. They monitor all the employees’ actions and what data is being accessed. Secure Web Gateways can block applications if they don’t meet the security architecture. Some advanced SWGs can offer even more control over web applications. They can control where the application is used based on the user’s location and the employee’s identity.

More security services offered by Secure Web Gateways include:

Content Filtration: 

This feature blocks all kinds of explicit content, like inappropriate images and videos, from entering the organization’s network. Any company’s IT department can overlook its employees’ internet access and enable web security gateways to block any unwanted content.

Data Loss Prevention:

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is an essential feature offered by upgraded and latest web security gateways. This feature protects users, prevents data breaches, and safeguards the sensitive information of all customers. Data Loss Prevention ensures all the company’s data remains within the company’s system and no data gets leaked.

Furthermore, DLP detects whenever an attempt to move any important or confidential file from a company’s system is made. It then blocks such an action and then secures the file. The need for DLP is more in companies with more remote workers as they are greatly exposed to unsecured internet traffic and web-based threats. Nowadays, many organizations keep DLP as a part of their security services.

Is Secure Web Gateway (SWG) A Firewall?

Although the function of a secure web gateway and a firewall are similar, i.e., protection of sensitive information and prevention of data breaches, they both operate quite differently.

Firewalls scan the information and incoming content for inappropriate or malicious code and then compare it with its list of such events. Thus, a firewall has its own ‘blacklist’ that keeps updating. A company is directed to keep its firewall up to date so that it has all the threats and codes in it and its user can have secure internet access.

While on the contrary, secure web gateway functions at a different level. An SWB doesn’t let the user gain access to any harmful website. But how does it work this way? It blacklists the harmful connections and scans the website for them before letting the user gain access. In other words, it limits the user functionality within the application.

An example of this is limiting the file size of a messaging app. This way, a user won’t be able to send huge or limitless messages. Such limits can be implemented on the entire system or a user-to-user basis. By working this way, a company can restrict its data flow while maintaining a much better check and balance system.

Because of this, secure web gateways have become a mainstay in many companies. The stakeholders can implement their Web policies and prevent cybercrime and data breaches. A big security threat is removed by removing the risk of unsafe access to various websites, making the company’s footing even more stable. It is estimated that Secure Web Gateways can help in economic stability as well, and by 2025 the sales are predicted to reach more than $12 billion across the globe.

Why Do Companies Need A Secure Web Gateway? 

The main reason for implementing a Secure Web Gateway in a company is to protect information from getting leaked. As companies continue to grow and expand, more employees are added, which results in more people gaining access to the data.

Moreover, it becomes difficult to safeguard mobile users from unnecessary threats. This is because organizations have several applications stored at different locations, some at the headquarters and some in the cloud.

The applications under the control of the headquarters are accessed through a secure remote VPN. When users use cloud services, they get automatically disconnected from the VPN, exposing them to threats and risks. This is why various companies are now practicing secure web gateways with their users. SWGs protect the users when they get disconnected from the VPN.


Secure Web Gateway SWG is an essential security solution of modern times. It protects employees from unsecured internet traffic and offers URL filtering, anti-malware scanning, and web application control. Moreover, it has important security capabilities like malicious code detection, advanced threat protection, and traffic inspection. Millions of companies worldwide use secure web gateways to protect their sensitive information from internet-borne threats and provide better DNS security.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.
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