What Is a Secure Web Gateway?

Secure online gateways have gained popularity as fraudsters have become more adept at integrating danger vectors into seemingly harmless or professional-looking websites. As users surf these fraudulent websites, harmful code and unauthorized access are unleashed in the background without awareness. False, illicit websites may be quite persuasive. 

A secure web gateway is a critical piece of the security stack and serves as the first line of defense for protecting your organization’s network, users, and data. A secure web gateway inspects all inbound and outbound traffic to protect against drive-by malware downloads, phishing attacks, crypto hacking attempts, and other types of cyberattacks. It also filters content such as ads that may be harmful or include explicit material.

How Does Secure Web Gateway Work?

A secure web gateway acts like a proxy server and sits between your organization’s network and the internet.

The SWG uses security intelligence to detect, analyze and prevent cyber threats from accessing or harming your business data by scanning URLs, IP addresses, processes running on host machines, as well as content within packets that are being transmitted over the wire. 

It then blocks known malicious entities while allowing legitimate traffic to flow freely through its system. This effectively protects against external (internet) and internal (LAN) threats, including DDoS attacks launched across other networks or protocols such as DNS amplification attacks.

What Are The Benefits Of Secure Web Gateway?

A secure web gateway is an efficient and cost-effective way to prevent attacks without requiring you to buy additional hardware or software. It works by filtering out malicious content using security intelligence, containing malware downloads that can harm your organization’s systems.

This allows the SWG to protect against these types of cyberattack vectors with minimal impact on bandwidth speed compared to traditional firewalls, which are often limited in their ability to detect drive-by download threats before they infect a networked machine.

SWGs also allow organizations greater flexibility when choosing how traffic gets routed thanks to its multi-directional support for protocols including but not limited to DNS, DHCP & NTP used in client/server communications between machines within your business network.

The SWG also offers simple scalability, allowing you to easily add additional security intelligence and rules as your business grows without the need for costly hardware upgrades or software licenses. 

A secure web gateway is an efficient solution when it comes to protecting your business from cyberattacks. This reduces operating costs and IT overhead by freeing up staff time better spent on other projects! Secure web gateways offer a cost-effective way of ensuring compliance with government regulations such as GDPR, PCI-DSS & HIPAA breach notification requirements while providing solid protection against drive-by malware downloads and phishing attacks. By filtering out malicious content using security intelligence, these types of cyberattacks are prevented from infecting machines within your organization’s network before they have a chance to harm.

Common Uses Of Secure Web Gateway

The most common use cases for securing web gateways include:

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) 

Where SWGs can be used to scan traffic and identify sensitive data which is then blocked before leaving the network; this can help organizations improve compliance with regulations such as GDPR or PCI DSS without affecting employees’ productivity, plus it prevents any accidental loss of information that could negatively impact business reputation/operations by causing fines from relevant authorities if they become aware of unencrypted personally identifiable data being transferred outside secure environments.

Web Filtering 

Make sure certain types of content cannot be accessed on company devices, such as social media websites or other time-wasting sites, so you do not have staff spending more time online than they should.

Application Control 

Make sure only certain types of applications are being used on company devices, such as blocking access to games or any other distractions that can hinder productivity and cause high workloads for IT staff needing to fix things when issues arise due to employees’ negligence.

Threat Protection 

They are blocking access to phishing websites, malware hosting locations, and other sources of malicious content.

Web Usage Analytics 

Collecting data on traffic being sent/received to analyze it later to identify is managing different patterns or abnormal behavior that could be used as indicators of compromise (IoC), which IT staff further investigates.

SWGs have evolved over the years from essential web filtering solutions into much more advanced security appliances capable of doing a lot more than just protecting against typical cyber threats faced in today’s internet environment where hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated with their methods & tools; this is why businesses should not underestimate how important it is to adequately protect all devices connected to company networks because there might always be a chance that something will slip through the cracks and cause them severe problems in future.

Differences Between Secure Web Gateway vs. Other Security Solutions

Secure Web Gateway Vs. Firewall

A secure web gateway is a critical piece of the security stack and serves as the first line of defense for protecting your organization’s network, users, and data.

A secure web gateway inspects all inbound and outbound traffic to protect against drive-by malware downloads, phishing attacks, crypto hacking attempts, and other types of cyberattacks by checking URLs, IP addresses and, processes running on host machines well as content within packets that are being transmitted over the wire. It then blocks known malicious entities while allowing legitimate traffic to flow freely through its system. This effectively protects against external (internet) and internal (LAN) threats, including DDoS attacks launched across other networks or protocols such as DNS attacks.

A firewall is another security control that controls access to resources based on a set of rules. It is an essential tool as part of a defense-in-depth strategy, but it’s not the only one. It operates at the network layer and inspects all traffic that flows in or out of your business, whether on-premise or through hosted services like Office 365.

A firewall will block any IP address with a bad reputation (blocked by ISP), so if you find yourself blocked from Netflix because they do DDoS protection, then the problem lies elsewhere than on the SWG level – some ISPs provide dynamic IP addresses for their customers meaning that firewall won’t see the new connection without specific rule added into FW policy against this particular customer’s IP.

A firewall has the advantage of filtering traffic based on Layers-of-Information. At the same time, a secure web gateway is limited by having only Layer-three data available, so it cannot rely on lower layers for security intelligence such as TCP/UDP port numbers or connection state (ESTABLISHED vs. NEW).

Secure Web Gateway Vs. An IDS/IPS

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) or Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) only monitors traffic in real-time for malicious behavior. At the same time, an SWG inspects all packets flowing into or out from your organization’s network carrying potential threats before allowing them through.

However, both systems could work together if you choose to use either one of these security solutions alone without any additional features. They each have unique strengths that complement the other very well, whereas implementing both provide even more excellent protection against advanced threats.

Secure Web Gateway And An Enterprise Security Solution

An SWG inspects inbound/outbound traffic to protect against drive-by malware downloads, phishing attacks, crypto-jacking attempts, and other types of cyberattacks. An ES solution offers endpoint protection for personal devices connected directly to your business network, such as laptops or tablets that employees use both within business premises (e.g., office) and outside of company hours (e.g., at home). 

This allows end-users to access their email accounts by logging into their work PCs from home while still being protected against threats like ransomware unless they change existing IT policies, something you should always check with your employer.

An ES solution is an excellent fit for organizations that allow employees to bring their devices into the workplace. In contrast, an SWG might be more beneficial in cases where there are no BYOD policies implemented.

Secure Web Gateway And A Proxy

A proxy server (or application-level gateway) is an intermediary between two connections with the purpose of filtering requests and responses. A secure web gateway operates at Layer seven, allowing for inspection of both inbound/outbound traffic that flows into or out from your organization’s network.

Proxy servers are often used to cache content (e.gimages) on behalf of another computer which can speed up browsing sessions over slow internet connections. In contrast, a secure web gateway cannot operate like this due to access to lower layers within packets transmitted across networks via firewall ports or protocols such as DNS, where caching would be beneficial.

Hardware-Based Vs. Software Based Secure Web Gateway

The main difference between these two types of hardware and software-based SWGs is that a hardware-based secure web gateway can process high volumes of traffic in real-time, which does not require much processing power, making it the preferred choice for organizations with large networks.

A software-based secure web gateway requires less initial investment because licensing costs are lower. Still, you will need to ensure there is enough processing power on your network (e.g., servers or cloud instances) to handle increased traffic volume if necessary since this type of solution scales horizontally when load increases – i.e., additional computing resources must be added as required. In contrast, one appliance could do the entire job alone instead of needing more than one device/server, making it able to scale up & down.

Hardware-based secure web gateways are designed to protect against advanced threats because they have more processing power which helps them inspect larger data packets in real-time. At the same time, software-based products operate at a lower level and compete with other types of security features present on the same device. This makes it harder for malicious code or exploits to bypass different layers within hardware vs. software SWGs where something could slip through if not correctly configured.

A company should always weigh up pros & cons between these two options before making any final decisions about what type of solution will work best for their organization’s specific needs/requirements; regardless of whether you choose hardware or software, your business can still benefit significantly from implementing one (or both) without requiring additional purchases or investments.

The following are some examples of Secure Web Gateway appliances which you can use to protect your organization against malware.

Cisco ASA 

Cisco’s Firewall Software is the market leader when it comes to securing data within Layer seven with its advanced threat protection that inspects traffic deep into packets while being able to stop brute force attacks, viruses, and ransomware in their tracks before they have a chance to encrypt files on PCs or servers. It also includes SSL decryption for encrypted web traffic through a single appliance (e.g., firewall), but this feature needs additional licensing costs unless included as part of an existing service contract where maintenance fees will apply: e.g., £150 per month minimum spend required if buying standalone SWG software rather than as part of firewall service.

Fortinet FortiGate 

Another popular appliance-based Secure Web Gateway which also offers SSL decryption (but not as advanced as what Cisco provides) and is easy to manage for smaller organizations via its web interface or CLI; but it comes with an expensive price tag starting from £2500 per unit: making this product difficult for many mid-sized business owners who want an all in one security solution without breaking their budget.

Kaspersky Security Center 

An excellent alternative to both the above is because you only need one license covering up to 50 devices across your organization, including physical servers running Windows/Linux and virtual machines within VMware environments where most SWG solutions are limited when there are multiple hypervisors installed on the host systems. Kaspersky Security Center is also the only Secure Web Gateway on this list to manage web traffic across multiple cloud hosting providers, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.

What Are Some Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using A Secure Web Gateway?


An SWG can prevent drive-by malware attacks, phishing scams, and crypto-jacking attempts from infecting an employee device when they visit infected websites while protecting access to sensitive company data stored in cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.; something that wouldn’t be possible with just antivirus software alone. In addition, it also makes use of the latest threat intelligence feeds, so employees don’t have to do anything differently and continue doing what they usually do while keeping their business safe and sound.


Suppose a company is already using an advanced endpoint security solution. In that case, there may not be any need to implement another layer of protection through SWG unless otherwise required due to specific industry regulations or compliance standards that must be met for employees to work remotely (i.e., PCI DSS). Another disadvantage could be that if the hardware breaks down, all web traffic will stop flowing into your network until it’s fixed. In contrast, software-based solutions can still operate on other devices within your data center should one fail due to its ability to run across multiple servers simultaneously without requiring too much processing power compared to what’s needed by dedicated appliances like Fortinet & Cisco Firewall Software.


A secure web gateway (SWG) is an integral part of the overall security scheme for any company. It protects someISPs provided by your organization by safeguarding against vulnerabilities in web traffic. Many companies overlook this essential layer of security because they believe it’s difficult or expensive. In reality, SWGs offer peace of mind at a very reasonable cost!

Recent Posts