What Is a Secure Web Gateway?

A secure web gateway functions as a cyberbarrier or checkpoint, which prohibits unauthorized traffic from entering into the network of a company. The traffic governed by a secure web gateway is completely inline—the gateway is essentially positioned between incoming and outgoing data. This prevents website traffic that is malicious, viruses, as well as malware from infecting companies or accessing their data. The web gateway enables users to gain access to approved, secure websites, while everything else is blocked. With a more sophisticated function of a web gateway, sensitive information can be prohibited from leaving the site of a company.

Why is a secure web gateway crucial?

Since cybercriminals have become more sophisticated when it comes to embedding threat vectors into what seemed to be websites that seem innocuous or professional, there has been a rise in secure web gateways. With these counterfeit websites, the enterprise can be compromised as users tend to access them and unleash malicious code as well as unauthorized access in the background. These websites that are fake and criminal can be quite convincing.

A few of these scam websites seem to be very authentic and thus, they can persuade users to type in their credit card numbers as well as personal identification information (PII), including social security numbers. A few other sites merely need the connection for bypassing web browser controls and injecting malicious code, including viruses or malware into the network of the user. Some of the examples are fake online shopping sites that act as brand-name sellers, sites that seem to be legitimate government agencies, as well as business-to-business intranets. Secure web gateways also assist in preventing the flow of data from an organization to outside, which makes sure that restricted data does not leave the organization.

How does a secure web gateway work?

On the network’s edge as well as the endpoints of the user, secure web gateways are installed as a software component or a hardware device. The traffic to and from users to different networks must go through the gateway monitoring it. This traffic is monitored for malicious code, web application use, and all user/non-user attempted URL connections.

Essentially, what the gateway does is checks or filters website URL addresses against the list of known and approved websites that are already stored—everything else is blocked. It is possible to block known malicious sites as well. URL filters that tend to contain these lists incorporate web addresses that are allowed within whitelists, and known, off-limits sites that are blocked explicitly tend to be integrated in blacklists. In companies, these specific lists are maintained in the database of the secure gateway, and then, the list filters are applied to various incoming and outgoing traffic.

In the same manner, data that flows out of the network may also be checked, and restricted data sources are disallowed. Furthermore, application level controls can be restricted as well, specifically to known and approved functions, which includes blocking uploads to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications (such as Office 365 and Salesforce.com). While a few companies employ secure web gateways in hardware appliances, which filter different incoming and outgoing traffic, many companies make use of cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) secure web gateways, since they are more flexible, without being expensive to deploy and maintain. Companies that have existing hardware investments usually combine both of them, make use of the hardware at their larger physical sites and cloud-based gateways for both remote locations as well as travelling workers.

What are a few features of secure web gateways?

Apart from fundamental URL, web application control, and data filtering, secure web gateways must also incorporate further controls and features, which improve network security.

  • Encrypted traffic analysis.The gateway must compare all traffic to both local as well as global threat lists as well as reputation sources first, and then, the traffic’s nature must be assessed to determine whether any content or code could act as a threat to the network. This must include SSL-based encrypted traffic.
  • Prevention of Data Loss.For example, if a website tends to accept uploaded documents or data, there is a need to first scan the documents for sensitive data, before they are uploaded.
  • Social media protection.The information that is uploaded and downloaded from social media must be both scanned and filtered.
  • Support for all protocols.HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP internet protocols have to remain compatible. HTTPS is currently the industry standard. However, several sites continue to support HTTP and FTP connections.
  • Integration with zero-day anti-malware solutions.There will be a discovery of threats as well as integration with anti-malware solutions, which can identify zero-day threats and establish the ideal prevention and remediation.
  • Integration with security monitoring.Security administrators must be notified regarding any security problems with web gateway via their monitoring solution of choice, which is usually a security information and event management (SIEM) solution.
  • Choice of location.Decide where your secure web gateway fits well in your network.

Eonia Solutions offers these features and detects potential cyberthreats with the help of machine learning execution.