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Industry Perspectives

Legacy Web Gateway vs Next-Generation Web Gateway: Understanding the Key Differences

June 12, 2024

By Mohammed Guermellou - Solutions Architect, Skyhigh Security

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, cybersecurity is a paramount concern for individuals and organizations. With constant threats waiting in cyberspace, it is crucial to have robust measures in place to protect sensitive information and ensure a secure online environment. One such measure is the implementation of a web gateway – a security solution that monitors and filters internet traffic for potential threats.

However, not all web gateways are created equal. Recently, the market has witnessed a transition from legacy web gateways to a new breed known as next-generation web gateways. This shift stems from the need to adapt to modern digital threats and technologies. In this blog post, we will explore and highlight the key differences between legacy web gateways and next-generation web gateways.

Approach to Threat Detection

Legacy web gateways primarily relied on signature-based detection techniques. They identified threats based on known signatures or patterns, making them less effective against emerging or unknown threats. On the other hand, next-generation web gateways utilize a multi-layered approach to threat detection. They incorporate advanced techniques such as behavior analysis, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to detect and mitigate both known and unknown threats in real-time.

Moreover, Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) helps with the threat part. Remote browser isolation is a method that runs web browsers in a separate environment to guard against cyber threats. Normally, browsers on a local machine are vulnerable to malware and data breaches if a user visits a harmful site. By hosting browsers on a remote server, this risk is mitigated, as any dangerous content is contained away from the user’s device.

With Web gateway integrated, remote browser isolation offers numerous benefits:

  1. Enhanced Security: Isolates web browsing from devices, blocking malicious code.
  2. Zero-day Attack Protection: Keeps unpatched threats at bay, thanks to a controlled off-site browsing.
  3. Attack Surface Reduction: Reduces potential entry points for hackers by separating the browsing environment and the local machine.

Overall, pairing remote browser isolation with Web gateway results in robust protection from web-based dangers, offering secure browsing, thwarting novel threats, diminishing attack chances, streamlining oversight, and bolstering legacy system use.

Advanced Data Loss Prevention

A crucial component of a next generation Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is integration with advanced Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities to secure sensitive data at rest, data in use, and data in motion. Organizations lack visibility of where their sensitive data is stored, used, and shared in the cloud, and have the need to ensure data is compliant with regulations.

DLP exposes those visibility gaps, providing full-scope data protection for the workforce. And by enforcing access and DLP policies, and encrypting cloud data, organizations remain compliant with regulations such as FISMA, HIPAA, GLBA, PCI DSS, and SOX.

With the digital transformation, users access applications found in the cloud and need access to data no matter where they are. Meaning that data is no longer all stored inside the network in on-premises databases and servers within corporate networks anymore. With data moving to the cloud and the need for broad access, it becomes more difficult to protect this sensitive data.

This is where advanced DLP capabilities come into play. By combining User Entity and Behavior Analytics (UEBA), content screening, and information collected from email processes, advanced DLP capabilities improve the effectiveness of false positives and prevent unauthorized sharing of proprietary data. Moreover, unified DLP gives organizations the ability to set data classifications just once to protect data across cloud, private applications, web, and endpoints. As well as detect intentional and unintentional actions that can lead to data privacy violations.

Granularity and Policy Control

Web gateways utilize category criteria and URL reputation to make decisions on whether to block or allow a URL. These two factors help ensure the security and integrity of the browsing experience for users.

Category criteria refer to the predefined categories or groups that are assigned to different types of websites. Examples of such categories include social media, news, entertainment, shopping, gaming, and so on. Each website is evaluated based on its content and purpose and assigned to one or more relevant categories.

Web gateways access a comprehensive database of categorized URLs and compare the requested URL with this classification. If the requested URL falls under a category that is deemed restricted or prohibited based on an organization’s policy, the web gateway can block the access to that particular URL.

URL reputation, on the other hand, pertains to the reputation of a specific URL based on its historical behavior and associations. Websites can be assigned reputation scores indicating their trustworthiness and safety. These scores are determined through various factors like analyzing the website’s age, hosting location, presence of malware, involvement in phishing activities, etc. High reputation scores are indicative of safe and trustworthy websites, while low reputation scores suggest potential dangers.

The combination of category criteria and URL reputation enables web gateways to effectively discern whether a URL should be blocked or permitted. However, users are still vulnerable to harmful websites, and this is because the category alone doesn’t assure protection against modern threats. Consider, for instance, two websites, FakeA.com and FakeB.com, which fall under the “Cloud Storage” category. These two cloud storage websites share only the same category, but nothing else. FakeA is hosted in the US, with its data at rest encrypted, and shares its IP with the provider. Conversely, FakeB is hosted in the EU, its data at rest is not encrypted, it is GDPR compliant, and it owns its public IP. As we can see, in reality, they are entirely different, and the implications of using one over the other are significant for the organization’s security and policy. Those insights are coming from the Cloud Registry. But first let’s understand what Shadow IT is.

FakeA.com FakeB.com
Category General News General News
Data at rest Not encrypted Encrypted
Compliancy Cloud Act GDPR
Intellectual property Customer Owns Service Provider Owns

“Shadow IT” refers to the use of unauthorized or unapproved web applications or services within an organization. In the context of web traffic, it refers to employees using websites, applications, or cloud services that are not officially sanctioned by their company’s IT department or information security policies.

Shadow IT occurs when employees make use of external web services without proper approval. They may do so for various reasons, such as to solve specific work-related challenges, enhance productivity, or simply because they find these services more convenient or efficient. Examples of shadow IT in web traffic might include employees using personal email accounts, file-sharing platforms, or project management tools that are not officially endorsed by the organization.

The main concern that is solved by Shadow IT, is the potential security risks it poses. By using unauthorized web services, employees may unknowingly expose the organization’s sensitive data to vulnerabilities, data breaches, or cyber threats. These services typically lack the robust security measures implemented by the organization’s approved tools, making them an easy target for cyber attacks.

Another advantage of shadow IT is to gain visibility, control, and accountability. Organizations heavily rely on their IT departments to maintain adequate control and governance over web traffic to ensure data privacy, compliance with regulations, and overall information security. Shadow IT enhances these efforts since the IT department is well aware of the external services being used and can effectively monitor or mitigate associated risks.

To address these challenges, advanced web gateways use Shadow IT to monitor and identify websites in real-time according to content and policy compliance. When a non-compliant website is detected, it’s automatically blocked to keep employees focused and compliant. This is called Closed Loop Remediation. Shadow IT includes more than 56 criteria that land into 6 pillars. Details on every website how they manage the Data, User and device authentication, hosting Service, Business, Legal, cyber-risk.

In summary, utilizing Next-Gen web gateways is an effective strategy for balancing productivity with policy adherence in this modern cloud world. This modern approach prevents distractions and protects against cyber threats by blocking access to certain websites and preventing data leakage based on more than 56 criteria rather than only 2 criteria for legacy web gateways.

Conclusion

Traditional web gateways provide limited control over web usage, treating all traffic equally. Next-generation web gateways offer a higher degree of granularity and policy control. They allow administrators to define and apply policies based on data management, business type, user authentication, and device authentication. This granular control ensures that the right level of access is granted to each user, improving security and productivity.

In conclusion, the shift from legacy web gateways to next-generation web gateways represents an evolution in cybersecurity practices. While legacy solutions provide a certain level of protection, they fall short when confronted with the ever-changing digital landscape.

Once you decide to switch from a legacy web gateway to a next generation web gateway, where do you begin? Find out how Skyhigh Security can help you modernize your security infrastructure and take an advanced approach to threat detection.

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