What Is Cloud Web Security and Why Is It Important?

Image of a man using a laptop in front of a world map showing several interconnected cities
You can use cloud web security to securely access your data from anywhere in the world!
Source: 200Degrees On Pixabay

Technological advancements and a growing remote work environment have led to the rapid adoption of cloud technologies. In turn, this has led to vulnerabilities in cloud access, applications, and cloud infrastructure overall. Organizations started adopting cloud web security to counter these vulnerabilities and protect their cloud assets.

So what’s cloud web security exactly? Well, this is our main topic today! In this article, I’ll explain what it is, its benefits, challenges, and its components. I’ll also discuss how you can implement it in your organization. Lastly, I’ll review a few of the top cloud web security providers today. To get things going, let’s start with that definition.

What Is Cloud Web Security?

Cloud web security encompasses the policies, strategies, technologies, and tools that protect your cloud infrastructure and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications from cyberattacks. Specifically, it secures communications to and from the internet while providing the control and visibility you need to ensure compliance. 

Sounds good so far, right? Well, it’s about to get a lot better! In the next section, I’ll discuss more benefits of cloud web security.

Cloud Web Security Benefits

So far, you’ve only had a taste of what cloud web security can truly offer you. In this section, you’ll learn more about its benefits.

Secure Connection

Cloud web security provides a safe channel for your remote employees to connect to the web. Having a secure connection in today’s work-from-anywhere culture reduces the chances of unauthorized access to your network. In turn, this can reduce the chances of cyberattacks occurring.

Increased Visibility

Visibility is an essential part of security. To clarify, if you can see what’s wrong with your network, you can immediately fix these issues before cyberattackers exploit them. Essentially, cloud web security provides the increased visibility you need to stay on top of network vulnerabilities.

Detailed Reporting

Many cloud web security tools generate detailed reports that can help you assess the state of your organization’s cybersecurity. These reports can also help with internal auditing and compliance with security standards.

Insightful Analytics

Like reporting, cloud web security tools also provide useful analytics that you can use to assess your current cybersecurity practices. In particular, you can check metrics, such as the number of vulnerabilities detected, to help you improve your cybersecurity policies.

All these benefits have a wide-ranging impact on your organization’s overall security. Unfortunately, cloud web security also has a few challenges associated with it. Let’s look at those next in more detail.

Cloud Web Security Challenges

Every technology has its downsides, and cloud web security is no exception. Here are some challenges to look out for.

Lack of Complete Visibility

Because cloud web security has several tools and technologies working together, it can be difficult to get complete visibility into how each part works. Therefore, it’s important to understand how these components integrate and the gaps they might create in the process. After we’re done talking about the challenges, I’ll discuss each of these components.

Multitenancy

Multitenancy refers to the setup where multiple clients access the same cloud resources. Implementing security policies and monitoring in this environment may not be easy.

Shadow IT

It’s common for employees to access services and apps that your IT department doesn’t always approve of. For example, an employee can use their account credentials to access a cloud resource from the organization’s laptop. These practices fall under the term “shadow IT” and are very difficult to monitor.

Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations in any cloud application or service can affect your organization’s security. For instance, misconfigurations can create security gaps that cyberattackers can easily exploit. Unfortunately, identifying and fixing these misconfigurations isn’t easy because they’re hard to find in complex integrations.

Despite these challenges, the adoption of cloud web security is growing. Earlier, I talked about the components involved in cloud web security. I think it’s time I talk about those in more detail.

Cloud Web Security Components

Cloud web security has many features, tools, and technologies that seamlessly work together to provide you with the security you need. This section will cover these components in more detail, starting with traffic forwarding.

Traffic Forwarding

Image of several colored arrows taking different paths.
Cloud web security offers traffic forwarding capabilities.
Source: Jose The Storyteller on Pixabay

Traffic forwarding refers to the process of forwarding data packets from all ports and protocols to a single service. The service will then check the packets against the organization’s security policies. The service will allow the packets to enter the network if a match occurs. Overall, the advantage here is that traffic forwarding ensures uniform implementation of organizational security policies.

User Synchronization

User synchronization is the process of creating, updating, and deleting user accounts to ensure they comply with the provisioning associated with a role. In other words, user accounts should sync to their assigned roles to streamline access to critical resources.

URL Filtering

Companies have a database of blocked URLs. Any URL entered by an employee will have to pass through this database. Only the URLs that aren’t in this database can pass through. In essence, this process ensures that employees don’t access malicious URLs.

Dynamic Content Analysis (DCA)

DCA analyzes the content on web pages and, accordingly, provides access to these pages for employees. It also monitors the content as it changes to ensure that employees don’t access unwanted or malicious content.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

IAM is another important cloud service that enables you to control the permissions and access to your cloud resources. Essentially, it’s a set of policies associated with users and/or cloud resources that provides quick access for authorized users.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Cloud DLP is a tool that protects your organization’s sensitive information in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and SaaS applications. Overall, it provides the necessary visibility to prevent cyberattacks, insider attacks, and more.

Business Continuity (BC) And Disaster Recovery (DR)

BR and DR are interrelated processes that keep your business operational even after a major disaster, such as a cyberattack. They can also prevent any costly impact on your operations and cloud resources. In the process, they provide resiliency to your business.

Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs)

NGFWs are advanced firewalls that inspect the headers and contents of data packets to identify malicious content. They also come with intrusion prevention systems (IPS) that block malicious data packets and send notifications to the concerned people.

Those are the components involved in cloud web security. Lots to consider, isn’t there? Now that you have a deeper understanding of cloud web security, it’s time to continue forward with how you can implement it.

How to Implement Cloud Web Security

Implementing cloud web security is complex because of its many moving parts. Let’s now look at a structured approach to quicken the implementation without compromise.

1. Assessment

As a first step, assess the current state of your organization’s cloud security. Some aspects to consider include the percentage of operations on the cloud, the nature of operations, and possible compliance standards you must follow. Also, consider if you need encryption, streamlining access rights, additional protection for handling customer data, and more. 

Overall, this assessment can help you create a cloud web security strategy that includes the components and technologies you need to achieve your cloud security goals.

2. Configuration

Once you decide on the technologies and tools you need to implement cloud web security, focus on the configuration of each tool

In general, never use the default settings on any tool. This is because every cyberattacker knows them well, as well as how to circumvent them. Therefore, ensure you modify the important configurations to meet your organization’s operations and security. Similarly, secure your cloud storage buckets, such as Amazon S3, to prevent cyberattackers from accessing the content through the bucket’s URL.

To implement these configuration changes, understand the security controls of each tool, so you can modify them to get the highest security. Understanding the different configurations will also be handy for integrating with other tools and technologies.

3. Encryption

Image of a lock and a key next to it.
Encryption locks your data away from prying eyes.
Source: Kreatikar on Pixabay

Along with configuration, ensure you encrypt all communications through the web. You can also have multiple types of encryption for different assets and use cases. For example, you can implement end-to-end encryption for all the data you upload and store in the cloud. Likewise, you can use sensitive data encryption for account credentials and communication encryption for all web communications. 

Along with configuration and encryption, understand each tool and its role in the larger context of cloud web security. This understanding will go a long way in gaining visibility into your cloud web security and its implementation and maintenance.

Before we wrap up, let’s briefly look at some of the top cloud web security providers in the market today.

Top Cloud Web Security Providers in 2022

Every provider offers something different from the next. To clarify, each of them offers varying components and controls. Therefore, understanding each is essential to know if the chosen solution is a good fit for you. That said, here are the top cloud web security providers in 2022.

Check Point 

Check Point’s SWG provides you with easy access and high levels of security!
Source: Check Point

Check Point’s Secure Web Gateway (SWG) filters internet-bound traffic to protect your organization from cyberattacks. Here are a few of its features:

  • Implements security policies uniformly across your organization
  • Inspects web requests before providing access
  • Blocks any incoming malware and malicious content

Overall, Check Point’s SWG sits between users and the internet to protect your cloud assets while also providing easy access to those assets.

VMware

VMware can help you comply with many cloud security standards.
Source: 1000 Logos

VMware’s cloud web security is a cloud-hosted service that enables secure access to the Internet and SaaS apps from anywhere. Some of its features include:

  • Scans your cloud infrastructure continuously to identify and remove security gaps
  • Offers visibility and control
  • Complies with leading cloud security standards such as SOC2

Overall, VMware scans your infrastructure for vulnerabilities and, in the process, reduces the chances of a cyberattack occurring.

Cisco

Cisco is a household name by now!
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cisco’s Cloud Web Security (CWS) is a cloud-based automated platform to securely and seamlessly connect to the internet. Some of its notable features are:

  • Offers strong protection for user devices to reduce infection through malware and other malicious content
  • Helps implement security policies uniformly across your organization
  • Works well in complex network setups

In short, Cisco’s CWS is a streamlined cloud security that’s quick to deploy and easy to manage.

Forcepoint

Image of the Forcepoint logo.
Forcepoint’s SWG is very easy to deploy.
Source: Forcepoint

Forcepoint’s Secure Web Gateway (SWG) provides your employees with safe and fast internet access. It offers several unique features, including:

  • Is highly flexible and scales up or down based on your internet traffic
  • Decrypts and inspects traffic, making it a good alternative for VPNs and cloud proxies
  • Provides control over shadow IT

Overall, Forcepoint SWG prevents malicious programs from infecting your devices and is easy to deploy.

Kaspersky

Image of the Kaspersky logo.
Kaspersky provides you with a lot of customization options.
Source: Kaspersky

Kaspersky’s Security Cloud combines antivirus and online privacy to provide secure access to the internet and your cloud resources from any device and location. Here are some of its noteworthy features:

  • Is highly customizable, as you can personally pick the features that are important for your organization
  • Sends real-time alerts to help you stay on top of threats
  • Provides secure access from anywhere

To summarize, Kaspersky provides multi-layer security for your internet gateway, making it a good contender.

Each provider offers a tool that gives you comprehensive protection against cloud-based threats and cyberattacks. Each comes with varying features, so choose one based on your needs and requirements. Having said that, let’s recap everything you have learned so far.

The Bottom Line

Cloud web security is essential to organizational security, especially if you have cloud resources. Essentially, it’s an umbrella term for policies, processes, technologies, and tools that unite to provide security while accessing cloud resources. You can choose the required tools and components to meet your cloud security requirements based on your organization’s needs and the nature of operations. I hope this article gives you a good starting point to delve deeper into each provider discussed above before choosing one.

Do you have more questions about cloud web security? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

Do I need cloud web security?

Yes, you need cloud web security if your employees regularly access your cloud resources from different locations. Essentially, it’s a set of tools, processes, and policies that protects communication between your employees’ devices and the web. In turn, this reduces the chances of malware and other cyberattacks from occurring.

Is cloud web security a single tool?

Typically, cloud web security combines different tools and capabilities like Identity and Access Management (IAM), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), etc. The idea is to combine these capabilities to provide comprehensive security for your users and devices. That said, some solutions, such as Cisco’s CWS, even allow you to access these different tools through a single interface.

How can I implement cloud web security?

The exact implementation depends on your organization’s requirements. Broadly speaking, you should start by assessing your network to identify the security features you need. Next, look for a provider that can offer these features in their solution. Alternatively, you can also pick the components you need and integrate them to work well together.

What can cyberattackers do with my cloud resources?

If a cyberattacker manages to get their hands on your company’s sensitive information, they can sell it on the dark web. In turn, this can lead to financial and reputational losses for your company. Cyberattackers can also send malware, ransomware, and other malicious content to infect your websites and gather sensitive information.

What are the challenges associated with cloud web security?

Cloud web security has several challenges associated with it. Firstly, visibility and control can be an issue, especially if you use multiple tools and technologies. Next, you have multitenancy and shadow IT to worry about. Both of these can add to the visibility problem. Moreover, any misconfiguration in your strategy can open security gaps, so stay away from these pitfalls.

Resources

TechGenix: Newsletters

Subscribe to our newsletters for more quality content.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Security Standards

Learn more about the top cloud security standards you can leverage.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Security Concerns

Educate yourself on the top cloud security concerns.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Security Certifications

Consider investing in some cloud security certifications for your business.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Scalability

Check out this guide on how you can scale your cloud resources.

TechGenix: Article on Virtual Firewalls

Find out how a virtual firewall can protect your cloud resources.

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