How a Secure Web Gateway Can Help Protect Your Business From Cyber Threats


A secure web gateway (SWG) protects networks with tools like URL filtering, P2P control, malware scanning, and more. SWG solutions can also provide data loss prevention.

As cyberattacks continue to grow and more employees work remotely, SWG solutions help protect your organization by analyzing incoming and outgoing network traffic for threats, compliance, and policy violations.



As organizations move to cloud applications and work-from-anywhere scenarios, it’s critical to safeguard remote access from cyber threats. Secure web gateways (SWG) inspect and control all data, files, and software that enters and leaves the network, blocking unwanted or malicious content. They also enforce corporate policy compliance.

A robust SWG solution, like that offered by Versa Networks, guards businesses against constantly emerging threats, including phishing, malware, ransomware, bots, exploit kits, IoT devices, and more. This allows businesses to maintain a safe and secure workplace and comply with legal obligations like the GDPR.

Whether on-premises or in the cloud, SWGs help eliminate the SSL blind spot by checking encrypted traffic to detect and isolate threats. Many SWGs incorporate AI/ML technologies that dynamically scan and analyze all web page content for malicious codes. When detected, they block the page, deny entry to unencrypted web pages, or deliver malware-free versions of the pages to users.

SWGs also help prevent outgoing data leakage by inspecting files for recognizable patterns that may indicate sensitive user or company information such as credit card numbers, medical records, and intellectual property has been sent to an external source. Some gateways use emulation to emulate the network environment and run a copy of suspicious files, identifying and blocking any malware.

URL Filtering

With increased reliance on remote work and cloud computing, businesses are using the Internet for business processes more than ever. This makes it more important than ever to protect data from the many cyber threats on the web. Secure gateways act as proxies to inspect all web traffic before it is passed to internal endpoints, enabling administrators to enforce policies around who, what, where, and when internal users can browse the web.

URL filtering prevents employees from accessing websites that can lead to data breaches, sites that decrease productivity, such as social media and explicit content, or sites associated with phishing schemes. Administrators can create categories of websites that are either blocked or allowed (whitelisting). When employees try to visit a website on the list, they will be redirected to a message informing them that the site is blocked.

In addition to blocking outbound web traffic, secure gateways can inspect inbound web traffic for specific patterns and keywords that indicate sensitive information, such as social security numbers, credit card details, medical records, or intellectual property. These threats are often used as the basis for phishing attacks and ransomware, with hackers posing as trusted sites to get victims to enter passwords or click on malicious links. SWGs can check for these identifiers, block the request, and send it to a sandbox to safely detonate a payload without infecting internal endpoints.

Malware Scanning


The web contains malware and malicious code, and cyber criminals constantly develop new attack methods. SWGs can help protect against these threats by scanning web traffic for malware. They can also perform sandboxing, which allows the gateway to execute potentially malicious code in an emulation of the network environment and identify the behavior of such code. This helps prevent a potential breach before it starts.

Unlike firewalls, which inspect data packets at the network level, SWGs examine and compare each web page request against a list of known threats. SWGs also offer granular control to enforce policies at the individual application, device, or browser level. This enables organizations to comply with regulations like PCI or GDPR.

Another important function of an SWG is to block sites that increase risk and decrease productivity, such as social media, shopping, or explicit websites. This is especially critical as more companies rely on remote workers and use unsecured Wi-Fi settings to transmit sensitive data.

SWGs can be deployed as hardware, software, or cloud-based and work along the organization’s network perimeter as a proxy between internal users and the Internet. Some SWGs can decrypt HTTPS traffic to scan for malware and other vulnerabilities. They can also sandbox SSL-encrypted data to evaluate it for potential threats and compliance violations.

SSL/TLS Decryption


Almost half of the web traffic is encrypted with HTTPS, meaning that if someone attempts to sniff data or perform packet inspection, they can only see a long string of scrambled characters. An SWG can decrypt and analyze this data, ensuring no malicious code is hidden in the website. This helps to prevent cyberattacks and protect employee privacy.

A gateway can also scan outgoing data for specific patterns and phrases indicative of a security breach. This helps to prevent social security numbers, credit card information, medical records, intellectual property, and other sensitive data from leaving the network.

Because many companies are moving away from a physical office environment and utilizing cloud services, an SWG needs to have the ability to run anywhere. Having an SWG in the cloud can help prevent data breaches even when employees work remotely on their devices and use public Wi-Fi networks.

A secure web gateway can be compared to a firewall in inspecting incoming and outgoing traffic. It only allows data to pass through if it doesn’t violate established policies. In addition, SWGs can also filter content and monitor the use of certain applications. This provides granular control and improves compliance with industry regulations. For example, an SWG can block popular file-sharing applications with cybercriminals for distributing pirated software.