Best SWG of 2023

A stylized depiction of a padlocked WiFi symbol sitting in the centre of an interlocking vault.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / jijomathaidesigners)

Secure web gateways (SWG’s) are the digital walls that provide protection against cyber threats and keep malicious sites at bay. SWG's act as a barrier and filter between the website and the end-point device, and no matter the user's location or operating system, they can guarantee compliance with company guidelines and provide real-time monitoring of user activities. As remote work has become more prevalent, investing in an SWG has become an essential part of keeping organizations' online systems safe from harm.

Many of today's best offerings are being rolled into one single suite (SSE or SASE). This powerhouse suite also incorporates a wealth of other security tech such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), compliance policy enforcement, threat intelligence, cloud-based sandboxes, and much more.

We’ve taken a look at the best offering out there to help you prevent potential security breaches, here are the best SWG solutions you can implement:

1. Nordlayer


(Image credit: NordLayer)

Secure your remote workforce, protect access to your company's resources, establish multiple secure connections per browser, and protect your users from malicious links, malware and ransomware with NordLayer's Secure Web Gateway (SWG) solution.

NordLayer's SWG provides AES 256-bit/ChaCha20 encryption to keep your traffic and online activity hidden from prying eyes on the open internet, IP masking for sending all traffic through a shared virtual private gateway and making users' locations untraceable, Fixed IP to ensure all data is sent via a dedicated server, DNS filtering to choose which content categories to block and ThreatBlock to keep users safe from malicious websites, thanks to gathering data from multiple sources.

If your business needs top-tier security, NordLayer offers three pricing plans to meet your needs. With the Basic plan, each user is billed at $9/month, with an annual billing option providing a potential 22% discount. This plan includes AES 256-bit encryption, unlimited data usage, and server performance up to 1 Gbps but does not include a virtual private gateway, custom DNS, or biometrics security options. Upgrade to the Advanced plan for $11/month per user and a fixed IP server fee of $50/month for these additional features. The Custom plan gives you the flexibility to discuss your specific requirements with the NordLayer sales team.

2. Perimeter81


(Image credit: Perimeter81)

Ensure maximum protection for your business and employees with Perimeter 81's secure web gateway – making deployment a breeze while providing protection from web-based threats and preventing shadow IT, malicious sites, tracking web activities, and setting bypass rules. Additionally, the monitoring of network traffic to enforce compliance and protect from malicious activities, all while adhering to privacy regulations, is essential in guarding against human errors.

Put an end to employees accessing unauthorized websites by setting clear boundaries and restrictions across your network. Monitor user activity and gain total visibility with our logging and monitoring capabilities. Easily set up custom URL filtering rules to control content access. Furthermore, with our easy-to-manage monitoring dashboard, you can quickly filter reports according to websites, web categories, or individual users.

For superior security at a price, Perimeter 81 offers the Essential, Premium, and Premium Plus plans, each with an additional fee of $50 per month per gateway.

3. Zscaler


(Image credit: Zscaler)

Enjoy maximum security for your applications, users, and locations with Zscaler Secure Web Gateway. Boasting a SaaS-based security solution, as well as lightning fast internet and safe access with the world’s most popular cloud-native Security Service Edge (SSE) platform, it's the perfect choice for securing your gateway. 

Moving your security to the cloud is easy, allowing your policies to travel with your users and providing 24/7 protection for all applications, devices, locations, and users. Zscaler guarantees a seamless user experience with features such as backhauling elimination, simplified network administration, improved performance, and more. It also offers in-line inspection of every internet traffic such as SSL decryption, so you can be sure your data is safe from advanced attacks, zero-day malware, and ransomware.

ZPA offers an innovative solution to increase job efficiency and reduce costs, all while drastically reducing maintenance and security risk management requirements. Say goodbye to clunky VPNs and hello to rock-solid security! With our context-based access policies in sync with individual work tasks, you'll be able to access applications without the need to connect to a network.

4. Cisco Umbrella

Cisco Umbrella

(Image credit: Cisco)

Cisco Umbrella, a leader in cloud cybersecurity and SASE solutions, is revolutionizing the world of web security. Combining Secure Web Gateway, Cloud-delivered firewall, CASB, and DNS security into one powerful solution, the company has been named a top player in the 2021 Radicati Market Quadrant for web security. Boasting full web proxy capabilities such as inspection, logging, and control of web traffic, Cisco Umbrella's SWG also benefits from the extensive threat intelligence provided by Cisco Talos, the world’s leading cyber security group.

Cisco Umbrella is the ideal solution for larger businesses; offering cloud-based firewall, DNS security, CASB, proxy servers, and web traffic logging and monitoring. Plus, its SSL and TLS traffic inspection allows for decryption of encrypted internet traffic. With a 14-day free trial and the ability to choose from the full bundle of SWG and other tools, like antivirus and DNS security, the total price of the Cisco Umbrella bundle will depend on your selection.

Not only will you get flexible, efficient, and consistent cloud-based protection for every location from a single console, but you will also save time and money with it. This makes managing and investigating incidents a breeze.

5. Symantec Secure Web Gateway

Symantec Secure Web Gateway

(Image credit: Symantec)

The powerful and adaptable Symantec Web Protection by Broadcom, offers unparalleled protection from online risks, from web threats to applications, social media and mobile networks, making it a perfect fit for businesses of any size, and especially enterprises. Furthermore, Symantec Secure Web Gateway enables comprehensive control over sensitive internal content.

Featuring Cloud Secure Web Gateway, Edge Secure Web Gateway, Intelligence services, content analysis, sandboxing, encrypted traffic management, web isolation and Secure Access Cloud, the Symantec Web Protection suite offers advanced security tools that protect users regardless of device or location.

One of the standout features of this protection is its ability to authenticate users logging into the network and inspect encrypted traffic. With Symantec Global Intelligence Network leveraging machine learning and image recognition, threats and cyberattacks are detected with over 1.2 billion web requests scanned. 

If you're interested in getting this powerful cloud solution for your business, you must fill out the form and request a demo and price - though tedious, they typically respond quickly. As a bonus, this platform would be even better with more reporting features for businesses with strict policies.

6. Skyhigh Security

Skyhigh Security

(Image credit: Skyhigh Security)

McAfee Enterprise's cloud products were reborn as Skyhigh Security back in March 2022. McAfee is renowned for their reliable antivirus and anti-malware software, and their secure web gateway is no different when it comes to offering dependable support and defense for both businesses and personal users. System administrators have the capability to create regulations and policies that prevent workers from accessing certain websites. 

Customization and personalization of web security levels is possible so businesses can filter URLs and content that are considered dangerous. McAfee helps to obstruct a variety of threats and malware, such as zero-day malware, which is becoming an increasingly concerning issue for enterprises. In addition, their AI and intelligent filtering systems aid in protecting the company's network from unidentified threats.

This SWG provides a great solution to ensure your remote workers are secure - the Client Proxy. Regardless of where your employees work, you can enforce the policies you tailored. In addition, you'll get access to integrations with other tools, and a free trial to customize the perfect security solution for your business. Best of all, the user-friendly interface will make sure even your employees have an enjoyable experience while keeping your business safe.

7. Forcepoint


(Image credit: Forcepoint)

Forcepoint (formerly Websense) is the go-to provider for comprehensive user and data protection. Their data-first security approach ensures that data is kept secure from endpoint to cloud. Moreover, Forcepoint brings cutting-edge threat and behavior intelligence, AI/ML, and data science for unparalleled behavioral analytics.

Forcepoint Web Security has a powerful weapon in its arsenal when it comes to keeping your network safe from malware via sophisticated malware detection (the AMD) function. Utilizing cloud sandboxing, AMD isolates the malicious code, thereby reducing your risk and enabling you to resume regular operations quickly. With 100% accuracy, it also shields your system from the most discreet cyber-threats. What's more, Forcepoint Web Security also has a data loss prevention feature, allowing you to guard against any potential attacks or disasters - all managed by a single central console.

With this popular tool, you and your team can confidently protect all bring-your-own (BYO) devices, private applications, and web data from any location without needing any extra agents or software. Unified policies, centralized cloud management, and the convenience of a single-source solution make Forcepoint ONE a trusted choice for simple and reliable security. The pricing is not available on the site, so be ready to go through sales to get a quote.

8. Netskope


(Image credit: Netskope)

As a web developer operating independently, or running a company or startup, you are well aware of the necessity of elevating the security of your web presence. To ensure this, Netskope's cloud platform provides the ideal solution. Evolving cyber threats increasingly come through cloud networks, making it more critical than ever that companies depend on the cloud to power their business. Netskope's service will guard against malicious content and secure the applications hosted in the cloud.

Netskope is a US-based, cloud-native platform built to protect businesses’ data, shielding their users from digital dangers across the web. Noted as a Leader in the 2023 Gartner MQ for Security Service Edge, “visionary” in Gartner MQ for Secure Web Gateways, and Leader in Gartner MQ for Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Netskope is pioneering the way to a secure digital future.

Its platform provides comprehensive security against cyber threats with its customizable policy controls and data-centric approach. The AI- and ML-driven technology detects behavioral patterns to proactively protect your online security, ensuring that your websites and applications are kept secure from malicious content. Furthermore, it can prevent malware and keep track of usage of cloud-hosted apps and microservices.

A possible hindrance could be that customers must register for a demonstration or ask for a quote for a total buy-in, which could put off some individuals from acquiring the solution.

9. Sophos


(Image credit: Sophos)

Sophos Web Gateway stands out from the pack thanks to its powerful and secure web gateway device, offering zero-day vulnerabilities, HTTP/HTTPS traffic reading, and threat experts to track out the latest malware. Its comprehensive dashboard provides monitoring of incoming and outgoing traffic, as well as other performance metrics - and its behavioral analysis even identifies and inhibits hateful conduct.

With the dashboard, you can gain a comprehensive view of the situation any time a security event takes place. On the Web Application Usage and Top Web Application Users charts, you can identify any problems that need attention. 

You can also construct your own security policies with the platform, such as setting bandwidth limits, restricting access to particular programs, or implementing an acceptable use policy. Moreover, with more than 100 different report templates at your disposal, you can make event management a breeze by capturing security incidents with greater clarity.

10. FortiProxy


(Image credit: FortiProxy)

Fortinet’s FortiProxy, a secure web gateway solution, offers a host of advanced features such as data leak protection, antivirus, web filtering, DNS filtering, and application restrictions, plus traffic shaping and caching with ICAP Client/Server protocol and remote access through a VPN. Additionally, its integration with Fortinet’s Security Fabric allows for seamless deployment of zero-trust web surfing, sandboxing, and central reporting.

The Secure Web Gateway is capable of carefully analyzing SSL and SSH traffic to detect any potential risks that could go unnoticed. You can deploy Active/Passive clusters with failover and Active/Active clusters with scalability of up to 8 with a single cache collaborative storage option. FortiGuard Labs boasts over 200 researchers spread across 31 countries and is dedicated to finding new threats; their online filtering service blocks more than 150,000 URLs every minute, and they even allow you to blacklist or whitelist certain websites.

There is no pricing information available but you can try a demo for free.

Advanced security

Given the dramatic rise of cyberattacks and the transition of many workplaces to the cloud, it's critical that you ensure your security measures keep pace. Don't be caught off guard by outdated security solutions, the sooner you update, the better. Strengthen your network and safeguard your people with a secure web gateway (SWG).

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.