SWG Security Checklist: Are You Fully Protected?

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SWGs are the gatekeepers that stop unsecured web traffic and threats from entering your organization’s network.

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SSL/TLS Decryption

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SWG security acts as bouncers between enterprise users and the Internet, screening website access and ensuring all web traffic is encrypted. It helps prevent hackers from seeing personal information, passwords, and sensitive data transferred.

In addition to inspecting the content of web traffic, SWGs also look for malware and analyze web applications. They can be installed as software components that run on an internal network or as hardware devices plugged into existing IT infrastructure. In either case, all network activity goes through the SWG, which monitors web application use and detects malware and other threats using technologies such as antivirus engines, sandboxing, and behavior analysis.

When a threat is detected, the SWG can scan the malware in a safe, isolated environment and prevent it from entering the network. It allows IT security teams to prioritize and mitigate risk by addressing the most dangerous threats first and improves productivity by limiting bandwidth usage and eliminating downtime.

However, SWGs are only one element of your defense in depth. To ensure your business is fully protected, implement granular application control policies to regulate how applications are used on your network and protect against malicious behavior such as brute force attacks and unauthorized file downloads. And to anticipate the latest threats, leverage adversarial testing by ethical hackers that work for you.

Web Content Filtering

As threats become more sophisticated, cybercriminals have come to rely on malware, phishing, and other types of exploitation techniques to get sensitive information from their targets. These attacks usually begin with a malicious URL that a target unknowingly navigates to, opening the door to various security issues like malware infection or an attack that steals login credentials or other important data. Web content filtering is a vital component of an SWG because it prevents these websites from being visited in the first place by scanning and blocking access to them.

Organizations use SWGs with web content filtering for many different reasons, from ensuring that employees only access business-appropriate sites to limiting the types of emails workers can send out, which can help reduce legal liabilities and ensure compliance with industry regulations. For instance, healthcare organizations must adhere to HIPAA and other regulatory standards to preserve patient privacy. In this case, SWGs can help by ensuring that data like social security numbers or private mailing addresses cannot be transmitted via email to unauthorized recipients.

SWGs also block distracting pages and services that can detract from productivity in the modern Internet-connected workplace, such as social media, online games, or streaming websites. In addition to lowering the chance of a malware infection or security breach, it can increase productivity and morale at work. Some SWGs offer reporting and monitoring features to give visibility into traffic, policy violations, or threat events.

Malware Detection

As more employees work remotely, protecting business applications is becoming more challenging. Secure web gateways, also known as SWGs, are critical tool to prevent data breaches and other cyber attacks that can originate from unmanaged internet usage.

Like the Customs and Border Patrol at an international airport, SWGs screen for malware threats that may be carried into a company network. From unsafe downloads to evasive viruses, malware threats that make it past the SWG perimeter can quickly infect systems and cause severe damage.

SWGs utilize various technologies and processes to identify and respond to malware, including antivirus engines, malware detection, sandboxing, and behavior analysis. SWG solutions can also support granular application control, limiting access to specific features within an application, improving productivity, managing bandwidth usage, and mitigating security risks.

New malware strains are constantly emerging, and the most sophisticated often use various techniques to evade detection. These include polymorphic code that changes underlying functionality or identifies different malware types to avoid detection, anti-sandbox techniques that delay execution until the SWG is no longer analyzing the threat, and fileless malware that resides solely in memory to evade signature-based detection tools.

To keep up with the ever-evolving threat landscape, SWGs can be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), which accelerates and strengthens security processes by detecting anomalies and leveraging predictive analytics to anticipate malware attacks. As such, IT leaders looking for a comprehensive remote work security solution should consider an SWG that offers advanced threat detection and prevention capabilities.

Threat Intelligence

SWG is a gatekeeper between enterprise employees and the Internet, intercepting web traffic and filtering website access. SWGs detect threats, malware, and phishing attacks to prevent data breaches and other security risks. They can also provide granular application control policies that allow or block access to specific applications based on user, device, or machine. It can help reduce bandwidth usage and mitigate security risks such as unauthorized file sharing and downloading.

Threat intelligence is another feature that helps to keep cybersecurity leaders and stakeholders informed about the latest threats. This information provides context on the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by bad actors, helping to prioritize vulnerabilities and weaknesses to counter threats more effectively. It can also include information such as attack methods, IP addresses, URLs and domain names, phishing links, and attachments.

As SWG solutions evolve, many have absorbed functions like cloud access security brokers (CASB), data loss prevention (DLP), and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) into a single framework known as secure service edge (SASE). With the increasing importance of an anywhere business, SWGs are poised to move beyond acting as the gateway for public application access to becoming the foundational component for broader, more pervasive SSE/SASE capabilities.

SWG Security Checklist: Are You Fully Protected? was last modified: by