The Rise of the Secure Internet Gateway

  • How the world works today: Users have left the building, apps are in the cloud, and security is left behind.
  • Looking back: Secure Web Gateways were originally built to control, not secure users and data.
  • Companies became increasingly concerned about users going to malicious sites and their sensitive data leaking on the web.

Ed is working from a plane, Emily just uploaded that strategy deck to Box, and you’re not exactly sure where Phil is, but you know he’s working based on the number of emails you’ve received from him. Today, this is how the world works. Before, everything was contained within your network perimeter.

All of your critical infrastructure, servers, applications, data, and people (Ah, remember the days of desktop computers?). Branch offices used to backhaul all traffic to corporate, so you could easily extend the scope of your network perimeter. Naturally, your approach to security was different, because the way people worked was different.

Security used to be more about building a taller wall around your perimeter and checking off boxes for compliance and HR acceptable use policies, instead of defending the business against data breaches and advanced attacks. Most security products were built as closed systems that couldn’t integrate together or share intelligence.

IT today
Critical infrastructure, applications, and data are moving to the cloud, leveraging either public or private cloud infrastructure.

The IT landscape has evolved. Critical infrastructure, applications, and data are moving to the cloud, leveraging either public or private cloud infrastructure. Salesforce.com, Box, G Suite, Office 365, and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, whether sanctioned by IT or not, are commonplace in companies of all sizes and industries — even the most highly regulated ones. Not only does this raise questions about how to protect where sensitive data is going and how it’s being used, but it also changes how employees get their work done.

Your users, especially when working outside of the office, no longer need to always connect to the corporate network to get work done. They often connect directly to SaaS apps. And, let’s face it, employees also don’t turn on the VPN if they’re using their work laptop for personal use — which means they’re left with very little security protection.

Plus, many organizations are now using direct internet connections at branch offices, which means employees and guest users don’t get the protection of your traditional security stack. Not only are more offices connecting directly to the internet — it’s estimated that 70% of branch offices already have some direct internet access — but attackers recognize these weak points in their targets and have started exploiting them more.

To solve these new challenges, security controls must also shift to the cloud. This paper describes how security must evolve to protect users anywhere they access the internet, why traditional secure web gateway (SWG) solutions cannot address these gaps, and why a new kind of internet gateway represents an entirely new way of thinking about securing your users.

Web gateways were designed to control web traffic as a way to manage bandwidth consumption, and they controlled access to inappropriate sites to help you manage productivity.

Looking back: Secure Web Gateways were originally built to control, not secure users and data.

SWGs are often used as one way to protect users against threats online. But, is that what they were really built to do? Think back a couple of decades to a time when bandwidth was expensive and there was a concern about employee productivity online. To offset these challenges, web proxy technology was born.

Web gateways were designed to control web traffic as a way to manage bandwidth consumption, and they controlled access to inappropriate sites to help you manage productivity. Sure, it required a lot of maintenance and exceptions to work around some problematic web apps and sites, but it seemed worth it back then.

Later, companies became increasingly concerned about users going to malicious sites and their sensitive data leaking on the web. In response to these liability and breach risks, SWG vendors strengthened content filtering and added data loss prevention capabilities to better analyze all web traffic and better control its movement. Since they are typically built on a proxy architecture, SWGs are able to analyze web content and determine if a site presents a security risk.

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