Keeping your business safe online should be a key priority for all online business owners. In 2023, the world has never relied on the internet more, but with that reliability comes security threats. Websites and web systems, even those built on secure website builders or CMS platforms, can be hacked and compromised, with your data, as well as that of your staff and customers’ at risk.
Taking the right steps to secure your web system therefore is crucial. One of the best ways to do so is by implementing a secure web gateway.
We get that web security can be daunting and hard to get your head around, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you understand what a secure web gateway is, why you need one, and how you can implement one on your website.
A secure web gateway (SWG) is a cyber security system that protects your company data and helps to create a secure web environment for users by blocking access to or from malicious links.
SWGs enforce company security policies and prevent insecure internet traffic from entering your internal system.
A secure web gateway effectively acts as a filter, sieving out dangerous and unsafe content from web traffic in order to prevent cyber threats and data breaches. They can also block unauthorized or suspicious user behavior.
All SWGs contain technologies such as:
- URL filtering – restricting what web content users can access.
- Application control – providing administrators with the ability to create web security policies based on users, in order to keep shared data private and secure.
- Malware and threat detection – preventing and removing any viruses, malware, or threats.
- Data loss prevention – ensuring that sensitive data is not being sent outside of an organization.
- SSL inspection – scanning and securing SSL encrypted traffic that passes through the gateway.
Secure web gateways work alongside other web security solutions. Although they perform similar tasks to firewalls, they aren’t the same. Whilst firewalls review incoming users and content, checking them against a “library” of known threats, they operate at the network level only. SWGs, meanwhile, operate at the application level, blocking or allowing connections or keywords based on your individual security policy.
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There are multiple benefits to implementing a web security gateway including:
- Enhancing your overall web security.
- Preventing users from downloading malware or clicking on website spoofing sites that aim to trick users into divulging passwords and personal information.
- Monitoring access to websites not approved by your organization, helping to keep your staff safe and productive.
- Protecting against data leaks.
- Stopping implanted malware from communicating back to hackers.
Whilst web security is important, you will need to determine whether or not a secure web gateway is the right choice for you, your business, and your web systems.
In order to do so, some of the things to consider before making a decision include:
- Budget. Secure web gateways cost money so you’ll need to determine whether or not you have the budget to install and run a SWG.
- Existing security infrastructure. Do you feel like your existing web security is tight? Or is it seriously lacking? By analyzing your existing security structure you’ll be able to see if there are gaps that a secure web gateway can fill.
- Individual requirements. A secure web gateway is all about keeping your internal systems safe and secure to prevent data leaks and malicious infiltration. If, for example, you have a large number of internal users or store considerable amounts of sensitive data, then a SWG should be a security priority.
Once you’ve decided that you need a secure web gateway, you need to implement one on your website.
There are various different types of SWG you can choose from, such as one run on a Proxy server, where a request is made and received on behalf of a client’s device or server, or a software-only SWG that can run either on your premises or in the cloud as a SaaS application.
Some SWGs are also physical hardware devices that are plugged into your IT infrastructure.
There are various vendors supplying secure web gateways on the internet. Some of the best choices include:
When it comes to choosing the secure web gateway for your business, alongside cost you’ll also need to ensure that it’s scalable and meets your own future growth plans. It’s also important that it can be integrated with your existing network infrastructure.
When you’ve found the right secure web gateway and you’re ready to implement it, you will need to:
- Define your security policies and access controls. You need to be clear on what you will allow your internal users to access and what you will block.
- Test and fine-tune the SWG to ensure that it is operating exactly how you want it to.
- Train your employees on how the SWG works and explain why it is in place and what this means for them moving forward.
Once your secure web gateway is up and running, there are some tips and best practices you can follow. Things you should aim to do are:
- Regularly update and patch SWG software for optimal performance.
- Monitor and analyze web traffics and logs to see where possible security threats are coming from.
- Conduct periodic security audits and assessments to stay ahead of the game.
- Maintain a strong, independent response plan should your SWG be breached and you fall victim to a cyber threat.
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Running an ecommerce store? Take a look at our ecommerce security guide full of expert tips and insight.
Secure web gateways can form a crucial part of your web security system.
Sitting between users and the internet, they can provide advanced protection by inspecting web requests and ensuring they are in line with your company policy. Anything that’s deemed risky will be filtered out and blocked.
There are a number of benefits to installing a SWG, especially in 2023 when more and more businesses are adopting a remote working approach. A good secure web gateway can ensure that your remote workers are not putting the security of your online business at risk.
Now that you know all there is to know about secure web gateways, and can confidently answer the question, what is a secure web gateway? why not continue your web security journey by taking a look at our WordPress website security guide?
The main features of a secure web gateway are URL filtering, application control, data loss prevention, SSL inspection, and malware detection.
Web security is incredibly important if your business operates online. Having robust web security in place protects you from an array of cyber attacks such as hacking and phishing and helps to spot and prevent any vulnerabilities in your website. Without robust web security, the data of you and your users would be at risk which can result in catastrophic – and expensive – problems.
A secure web gateway can prevent cyber risks such as access to high-risk, malicious websites and viruses, as well as malicious users accessing your internal system.