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What is a Secure Web Gateway?

What is a secure web gateway?

A secure web gateway is a security solution that prevents unsecured traffic from entering an internal network of an organization. It is used by enterprises to protect their employees and users from accessing and being infected by malicious Web traffic, websites, viruses and malware. It also ensures the implementation and compliance of the organization's regulatory policy.

According to Gartner, a secure web gateway must, at a minimum, include URL filtering, malicious-code detection and filtering, and application controls for popular Web-based applications, such as instant messaging (IM) and Skype. Native or integrated data leak prevention is also increasingly included.

A business imperative

Secure web gateways are necessary because the days of employees accessing data and applications solely through the corporate data center are over. That’s because employees are no longer bound to the corporate headquarters. They are working in branch offices, at home or at just about any other location. These mobile employees need to access their work applications from their laptop, smartphone or other portable internet-connected device, and those apps are now in the cloud instead of housed in the data center. But traditional secure web gateways struggle to secure the new cloud and mobile world.

Some organizations still rely on their traditional network and security infrastructure to secure this internet-bound traffic. They have to backhaul traffic over expensive MPLS links back to the main data center. This slows the flow of traffic, resulting in a frustrated and less-productive employees. Legacy secure web gateways were not built for the world of mobility and the cloud.

And they can’t provide the security necessary in today’s cloud-based landscape. Cybercriminals are developing new malicious code and attack methods at a blistering pace. The exorbitant cost and extraordinary time it would take to update these legacy hardware-based appliances make it a practically impossible task for organizations, leaving your network and your employees vulnerable.

Zscaler is a strong choice for midsize and larger enterprises looking for a cloud-based SWG service.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways, 2019
Zscaler’s security functionality keeps users safe regardless of what network they are on, which was great for us as more and more users are working out of the office across all government departments.
Nav Pillai, Director of digital transformation, Cenitex

Look to the cloud

This new wave of mobile employees, as well as the rapid adoption of SaaS applications, such as Office 365, is propelling organizations to look for something more than a secure web gateway a cloud-based security stack. These cloud-based security stacks allow organizations to secure web traffic from remote offices and mobile employees without relying on expensive, antiquated and inadequate hardware-based appliances.

However, to achieve the full benefits of the cloud, the solution must be purpose-built for the cloud and architected following Gartner’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) concept. Security solutions that are still hardware-based with added cloud security services are still limited by their appliance-based architecture. That would be like taking thousands of DVD players into a cloud and calling them a Netflix service.


The benefits of a SASE platform include:

  • Reduce IT cost and complexity Easy to deploy and manage as an automated, cloud-delivered service, enabling digital transformation without the technical debt of the architectures of the past.
  • Deliver a great user experience Security and policies are brought close to the user across more than 150 locations to eliminate unnecessary backhaul and provide optimal bandwidth and low latency.
  • Reduce risk All connections are inspected and secured, no matter what user they are coming from, which app is being accessed, or what encryption may be used.

Move to the cloud securely

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Zscaler Internet Access in Action

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Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways

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Follow the leader

Zscaler has been ranked as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways for the past nine years. And, in the most recent Magic Quadrant, Zscaler was positioned highest and furthest for its ability to execute and completeness of vision.


See the difference for yourself

Still using appliances for your secure web gateway? Could your company be safer with cloud-based secure web gateway? Take this security preview test to find out how well your company is protected against ransomware and other threats. The test is safe, free, and informative.

Zscaler is the magnum opus of my security stack.
Brad Moldenhauer, Director of Information Security, Steptoe & Johnson LLP