Sitting between the network and users, a Secure Web Gateway (SWG) prevents employee devices from dragging in ransomware, malware, and viruses on the bottom of their shoes, while ensuring employees have access to all the information they need to work productively. What are SWG’s and why are they so widely recognized as vital to modern business? We are glad you asked!

What is a Secure Web Gateway?

A secure web gateway (SWG) is a security solution that protects your organization's internet traffic. Modern SWG services are most often deployed to protect an organization's staff and network users from malicious websites, viruses, and malware. SWGs are usually deployed at the perimeter of an organization's network, acting as a checkpoint between the internal network and public internet traffic. They can also support the organization's cloud security and strengthen its overall defense.

What is a Secure Web Gateway (SWG)

Why do you need a secure web gateway?

With an increasing number of cyber-attacks occurring every day, it's critical to ensure your organization is secure from external threats and malicious traffic. An SWG provides an extra layer of security by inspecting all incoming traffic for potential threats before allowing it to enter the network. Additionally, many organizations use SWGs to help enforce internet usage policies, such as blocking certain websites or limiting access to specific types of content.

Besides, for organizations, remote workers and mobile users need the same protection from threat as those in the offices, and with the number of applications growing daily, protection becomes more difficult without a secure web gateway. Organizations use SWGs to provide secure internet access when users are disconnected from the security of the internal business network.

How do secure web gateways work?

An SWG works by inspecting all internet traffic entering your network and scanning it for malicious threats. An SWG is installed in the gateway between the network and user endpoints. All traffic between users and networks must pass through the SWG, which monitors the traffic for malicious activity and code, web application use, and all user or non-user-attempted URL connections.

They detect web-based threats and filter out traffic that does not comply with a set of security policies. If any malicious code or content is detected, the SWG will block it from entering the network. Additionally, if you’ve set up a policy for filtering out inappropriate content, the SWG will also be able to identify and block those sites.

Here are some brief introductions to the functions that SWGs perform:

  • URL filtering: This function of SWG is often used to help organizations block websites and content that are related to gambling, pornography, violence, terrorism, and malware distribution sites.
  • Anti-Malware scanning & protection: When traffic is scanned for threats, the SWG will detect any viruses or other types of malware before they reach the internal network. Once detected, it will prevent them from entering the system.
  • Web access & application control: You can institute policies that allow only certain websites to be visited by internal users. This way, you can make sure your staff are not accessing applications and services that interfere with work. This function can also help an organization limit and control the bandwidth used by specific applications, such as Spotify and YouTube.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP): Aside from scanning traffic coming in, SWGs can also detect when unauthorized data is being transmitted out of the network. If any such activity is detected, the SWG will block it from leaving and alert the administrators for further investigation. For example, some companies set up their Data loss prevention (DLP) rules to detect outgoing credit card numbers and confidential information in employee emails and attachments to stop them from leaking.

SWG vs firewall & Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

A firewall is designed primarily to protect users' internal network from external threats and attacks. It achieves this by controlling which ports are open, who can access what resources, and which protocols are used to communicate with your network. On the other hand, a secure web gateway is a more advanced tool that adds an extra layer of security by inspecting all incoming traffic for malicious content before it reaches your firewall.

SWG Service Traditional Firewalls
  • Examine the complete request before allowing access
  • Network, web traffic, and application-level protection
  • Screens traffic packets only; do not look at the entire file
  • Usually, network-level protection only (unless you are also using a web application firewall)

SWGs are also often compared to CASBs (Cloud Access Security Broker) due to their similar features. While both can inspect traffic and filter out malicious content, the main difference is that a CASB additionally provides visibility into cloud applications and services. This means that you can view detailed information on which cloud services are being used by your employees and set policies to ensure their security.

SWG Service CASB Solution
  • Some SWG solutions are cloud-based
  • Focus on protecting a corporate & its user's data on various devices
  • Always cloud-based
  • Focus on protecting cloud applications from unauthorized access

SWG service - What are the main benefits?

Choosing and implementing the right SWG solution can bring huge security benefits to a company or organization. In addition to the security features listed above, here are some other benefits and conveniences that SWGs can provide:

  • Enhance visibility - Help eliminate your SSL and firewall's blind spots. Provide granular control over how the network or application are used.
  • Prevent cyber-attacks - Prevent users from accessing malicious websites and prevent malicious files from entering the network. Provide a varying degree of protection against zero-day attacks, suspicious domain extensions, hidden malware, malicious file extensions, etc.
  • Compliance with regulations - Companies that are subject to regulations like HIPAA, PCI, and GDPR must follow strict requirements on how their data is handled. SWGs' granular control over applications and data makes it easy for companies to comply with these requirements at the user level.

Are there any challenges to implementing Secure Web Gateway SWGs?

Although there are many benefits to SWGs, organizations should also be aware of the potential challenges they may present for IT teams. If these gateways are deployed as a standalone environment, they may add a layer of complexity to overall security management. On the other hand, if SWGs are integrated with other security technologies, security policies can be enforced more easily - however, this process also requires technical expertise.

Another challenge posed by SWGs is the need to keep on top of updates, as cyber threats continue to evolve. This requires additional time and effort from IT teams to ensure critical upgrades are not missed.

Lastly, organizations might experience performance issues if they utilize older network infrastructures to protect their internet traffic, especially in areas with low bandwidth, which may lead to slower speeds that affect work efficiency.

What are the prospects for SWGs?

The future is bright for secure web gateways. Web security is of utmost importance in the rapidly evolving digital world where information increasingly needs to be accessed remotely, and implementing a strong SWG solution is high on the list for many organizations. As such, the market for these types of solutions will continue to grow over the years, making it crucial that businesses can find the best one for their IT security.

Sangfor IAG - Secure Web Gateway & Web Filtering Solution

If you're looking for an SWG solution that can accommodate modern trends like cloud applications adoption, the move of the hybrid workplace, and increased use of mobile and personal devices for work, look no further than Sangfor IAG.

Enjoy a well-rounded set of state-of-the-art features like proxy avoidance protection, intelligent traffic management, unified network-wide management of all clients, and precise and accurate application management that enhances your organization's security and makes monitoring and managing a breeze for your IT team. Watch our introduction video and download our brochure to learn more about Sangfor IAG or malware detection and protection solutions, or contact us today to talk in-depth about a holistic and tailored security services for your organization.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Malicious files are becoming as prevalent as remote work these days, and without an SWG, risky connections to untrusted WIFI and networks could potentially bring ransomware or malware back to your network. Deploying an SWG will ensure employees have access to all the files they would normally have access to in the office, with all the protection of the network firewall and other security equipment.

Most standard firewalls (like the ones that come with your operating system) do not protect you from threats beyond the network traffic layer. SWGs can help extend this protection by also filtering out malicious URLs, preventing users from downloading suspicious files, scanning email attachments, inspecting encrypted traffic, etc. An SWG does not necessarily replace a firewall but complements it by covering its blind spots.

Just as with all security products, multi-layered security is ideal. Deploying an SWG will certainly go a long way toward protecting your remote users and their devices, and protecting your network from any vulnerabilities they pose, but no security is 100% effective. Consider working with an SWG vendor like Sangfor, who offers many correlated security products, designed to work flexibly with each other or with other vendors’ products.

In a typical environment, Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is used to block access to inappropriate websites or applications, prevent malware infections, and enforce corporate internet compliance. SWG is similar to a firewall in that both prevent malicious activities and provide necessary network security protections. However, the main difference is that SWG emphasizes securing user onboarding and promoting productivity. It is common for an enterprise to use both SWG and firewall to fortify their defense as both of them usually complement each other. For more info on using both IAG and NGAF, please refer to this blog webpage.

Sangfor Technologies of course! For more information on Sangfor IAG security protections and solutions, visit online at, or email us directly at

Sangfor Technologies is an APAC-based, global leading vendor of IT infrastructure solutions specializing in Network Security and Cloud Computing. Visit us at to learn more about Sangfor’s Security solutions, and let Sangfor make your IT simpler, more secure and valuable.

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