Read more about Zscaler Web Security.
Before we continue, let’s clarify these terms. Web security can also include web application security (also called website security), a subcategory of practices and tools that help secure public-facing websites. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing specifically on web security solutions that secure servers or user endpoints as well as the traffic that moves between those and the internet.
The massive importance of the internet for modern enterprises—and the accompanying growth in the sophistication, frequency, and impact of cyberattacks—has made web security critical to business continuity. It’s your first line of defense against threats that can lead to the exposure of sensitive data, costly ransoms, reputational harm, compliance violations, and a host of other consequences.
Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that, by 2025, global cybercrime will cost US$10.5 trillion annually—a greater profit than the entire world’s major illicit drug trade—and half the world’s data will live in the cloud. Given what’s at stake, it’s easy to see why effective web security is so important today.
For a modern enterprise, effective web security has broad technical and human benefits:
Great strides in cloud and mobility technology let your employees and customers connect with you with unprecedented ease and flexibility. Unfortunately, that cuts both ways, and attackers have more ways to approach your organization’s wider attack surface. With the right web protections in place, you can spend more time taking advantage of the benefits, and less worrying about security threats.
Web security casts a wide net to protect users and endpoints from malicious emails, encrypted threats, malicious or compromised websites and databases, malicious redirects, hijacking, and more. Let’s look at a few of the most common threats in more detail:
The ideal web security solution leverages multiple technologies to stop malware and ransomware, block phishing domains, restrict the use of credentials, and more—building a holistic defense.
Let’s look in a bit more detail at how this works.
Web security functions sit between your environment’s endpoints and the internet. From there, they inspect traffic and requests traveling in both directions. No single technology monitors or inspects all traffic, but a “stack” of appliances—or a cloud-delivered platform of services, more effective today—provides holistic coverage to prevent policy violations, malware infections, data loss, credential theft, and so on.
Many solutions are available today, and some are more comprehensive than others. In a full stack, web security includes the following technologies:
As on-premises hardware, web security technologies would be housed in a SWG appliance in your data center. Your hardware stack could include firewalls, URL and DNS filters, sandboxing appliances, and many more to cover all functions.
The problem with a hardware-based approach is inevitable gaps. Appliances require ongoing patching to keep you safe from zero-day attacks, and if patching falls behind, you’re left with exploitable vulnerabilities. Appliances also have performance limitations—especially when it comes to TLS/SSL-encrypted traffic, which constitutes nearly all traffic today—meaning they can’t reliably root out hidden threats.
Moreover, far too many devices (often even from the same vendor) don't talk to each other, so correlating data between them is extremely difficult, even for highly skilled information security professionals.
A secure web gateway delivered as a cloud service, on the other hand, provides real-time threat protection and policy enforcement, preventing access to infected websites—even when your users are outside your corporate network—and blocking infected or unwanted traffic from entering your internal network.
The Zscaler secure web gateway is 100% cloud-delivered, so it enforces security policies consistently, no matter where users connect, what endpoint devices they're using, or where applications are hosted. It’s built on a global multitenant cloud architecture for massive scalability, so it can inspect all encrypted traffic without degrading performance. Plus, our integrated, cloud native platform greatly reduces your operational complexity and costs compared to a hardware approach.
Far more than a single security service, Zscaler Internet Access™ includes cloud firewall/IPS, sandboxing, URL filtering, Cloud Browser Isolation, data loss prevention (DLP), cloud access security broker (CASB), and cloud security posture management (CSPM) to deliver airtight internet security across all your users, on- and off-network.
Zscaler was named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways for 10 consecutive years. In 2021, Gartner defined the security service edge—a new category that includes SWG—and subsequently recognized Zscaler as a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge, with the highest “Ability to Execute.”