Secure web gateways (SWG) have been a more recent introduction to the network security market, but the general focus of this layer of protection is to keep a network secure by disallowing and blocking known unsafe sites from a security or liability perspective.
A Cloud-based secure web gateway always has a default configuration for guest or unknown devices connecting to the company network. The great part about this layer of protection is that if the device comes on to the network clean, it has as good of a chance of leaving clean as the rest of the devices on your network. Any policies attached to your secure web gateway will be enforced, because all the DNS traffic is going through a cloud-provided protection network.
There isn’t really a defensible perimeter anymore, because the internet is at the center of what we do. We go all over the place, we store much of our data in the cloud, and we want to get at it from anywhere. The entire umbrella consulting business called “digital transformation” sprung up around this new notion:
The internet as we know it has become much like our sun. We revolve around it and rely on it far more than most are willing to admit. We store our pictures, data, stories, financial transactions, music, and all kinds of other things there. It’s sort of this ubiquitous information bubble that’s available to us all the time, and keeping us safe from the bad stuff in the bubble is why the cyber security industry is thriving.
Is a Secure Web Gateway the same as Content Filtering?
Content filtering and Secure Web Gateways have a similar purpose, but a secure web gateway is a much more advanced and proactive network security tool. Content filtering has been used as a business tool for some time, and many of the lists have intersects with the same types of sites a secure web gateway would also block, but the genesis of the block/allow lists for SWGs is based on the content of the website, whereas content filtering relies more on manual input, updating and management.
Content filtering has been around for a long time, and is used in a variety of different ways, sometimes at a national scale. The focus of content filtering is to disallow access to sites that end up on a “bad keyword” list, based on the content of those sites. This has been used to do a variety of things, and was introduced in the early 2000s primarily as a tool to allow parents to restrict their kids’ internet access.