Five Misconceptions About Secure Web Gateways

Jun 15, 2023
4 minutes

Secure web gateways (SWGs) play a crucial role in protecting organizations from cyberthreats, especially in the era of remote work and digital transformation. However, there are a number of misunderstandings related to SWGs that need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at five common misconceptions and shed light on some of the key concepts organizations need to get right about secure web gateways.


1. Most traditional SWGs are "secure enough."

Reality: Attackers are effective at bypassing traditional SWGs.

In the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, traditional SWGs often fall short against modern web threats. Cybercriminals have become quite sophisticated, hiding malware behind seemingly benign SaaS platforms and even employing dynamically generated URLs or cloaking techniques to bypass traditional SWG database engines. Unlike traditional URL filtering capabilities that only analyze new URLs with hash-based static signatures and offline crawlers, Prisma Access Cloud SWG leverages deep learning and AI-powered detections to stop unknown and evasive web threats inline and in real-time using both offline and live web traffic analysis.


2. An on-premises web proxy offers more control.

Reality: Control is lost if remote users disable their VPN.

With remote work, there is a real risk that employees will deactivate their on-demand VPNs due to latency or performance reasons. The moment an employee turns off their VPN, the organization loses visibility and control over internet traffic with an on-premises model and risks exposure to web attacks. That’s why so many companies are moving away from on-premise SWGs and traditional VPNs to security service edge (SSE) solutions that consolidate Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) for private app access and cloud-delivered SWG for always-on internet security.


3. Securing traffic on ports 80 and 443 is sufficient.

Reality: 53% of threats to a remote workforce are via non-web apps.

Securing web traffic alone is no longer enough. Organizations today rely on a wide range of cloud SaaS applications that go beyond ports 80 and 443, including modern collaboration tools that leverage different ports and protocols. Traditional on-premise SWG proxies, however, that focus only on web-based traffic provide limited coverage and leave organizations vulnerable to security threats. Cloud SWG as part of a secure access service edge (SASE) solution provides comprehensive visibility and security of overall user traffic, both web and non-web, across all ports and protocols.


4. Moving off an on-premises web proxy appliance requires heavy networking changes.

Reality: Flexible proxy-based deployment options can simplify migration.

Migrating from an on-premises web proxy to a cloud-delivered SWG or a SASE solution may seem challenging. While migrating from an on-premises web proxy appliance will require some changes, there are ways to ease this transition. For instance, an explicit cloud proxy can be utilized when no-default routes, explicit proxy, or encrypted tunnels are required. For example, Prisma Access Cloud SWG offers multiple explicit proxy capabilities via the single unified GlobalProtect agent, Proxy Auto Configuration (PAC) files, or via IPsec site-to-site tunnels. If an on-premises proxy appliance is a requirement, select Palo Alto Networks hardware and virtual appliances can be deployed as a proxy, NGFW, or both.


5. SASE solutions are difficult for SWG admins to manage.

Reality: A SASE solution can improve SWG workflows.

There is a misconception that SASE solutions primarily focus on complex firewall mechanisms and are challenging for SWG administrators to manage. The truth is, key innovations in security integration and automation have improved usability for diverse roles, including SWG administrators. SASE solutions like Prisma Access offer centralized and predefined web security configurations, easy-to-use workflows, purpose-built dashboards, and role-based access controls that simplify ongoing monitoring and maintenance.


Use Cloud SWG to help protect your remote workforce from online threats

As organizations navigate the evolving threat landscape and the demands of remote work, it is essential to dispel common misconceptions about secure web gateways. By understanding the realities of SWGs and embracing solutions like Prisma Access Cloud SWG within a SASE architecture, organizations can ensure robust protection, streamline operations, and enhance user experiences.

Download our comprehensive ebook, “Five Misconceptions About Secure Web Gateways,” to get a more in-depth look at these misconceptions and how Prisma Access can help address your web security needs.