Differences Between A Secure Web Gateway and A Firewall

A secure web gateway and firewalls are two critical entities for online security. They have similar cybersecurity roles and can sometimes overlap.

They scan web traffic to find cyber threats before entering a computer network. However, they have some significant differences, especially in their modes of operation.

Secure Web Gateway

This network security service is used to protect a company’s computer network from cyberattacks and malware.

It is used to filter internet-bound traffic and enforce a company’s internet policy. SWG is delivered either on-premise or through the cloud.

It lies in the channel between people and the internet to inspect web requests and block those meant for malicious websites and applications. 

Secure web gateways use features like HTTPS inspection, URL filtering, antivirus, data loss prevention, and application control to perform their security functions.

It operates at the application level and whitelists, blacklists, or limits the functionality of certain keywords and connections in the applications they are used on.

SWG can also be used to enforce a company’s internet policy automatically. By preventing people from accessing unsafe websites, it reduces the chance for malware to infiltrate the system and cause harm.

When people on the network try to access a forbidden website, they will be greeted with an “access denied” prompt.

Differences Between A Secure Web Gateway and A Firewall


This network security service analyzes web traffic flowing in and out of a computer network to prevent unauthorized access according to preset rules.

Firewalls can be software or hardware units, and both work similarly. 

They compare what they find in the data packets passing through them with a blacklist of known cyber threats.

This blacklist needs constant updates as cybersecurity experts always discover new malware. Updating a firewall frequently will make it more effective at filtering malicious codes.

Both Tools are Solid Perimeter Defenses

The strength of secure web gateways and firewalls lies in their ability to spot cyber threats before they enter a closed computer network.

All incoming and outgoing traffic pass through one point of entry in an on-premises network that uses a shared internet connection. This allows the security services to scrutinize everything that enters and leaves that network. 

Secure Web Gateway

Technological advancement has put some cracks in this once bulletproof system. Businesses now use SaaS applications, cloud computing, and remote networking.

Monitoring all incoming traffic is challenging since many devices will link from the business’s network to the cloud.

This will create several access points and make relying on traditional perimeter defenses impossible. Extensive penetration testing can verify this.

This does not suggest that perimeter defenses are now useless, but organizations should use them with other cybersecurity tools to create a solid multilayered defense against hackers.

Many cybersecurity systems today combine secure web gateways with firewalls in their security framework so their differences can complement each other. 


Secure Web Gateway and Firewall are critical network security services that effectively filter malware trying to make its way into a computer network.

Although they perform similar roles, their modes of operation are different.

They will always help ward off cyberattacks even though the widespread usage of SaaS, cloud systems, and remote networking, demands a more robust security framework.

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Ashwin S

A cybersecurity enthusiast at heart with a passion for all things tech. Yet his creativity extends beyond the world of cybersecurity. With an innate love for design, he's always on the lookout for unique design concepts.