Cloud Web Security

More cyberattacks and data breaches are occurring than ever before and cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Many businesses are now turning to cloud web security services to improve their defenses, as standard security solutions are failing to block all threats.

Many Cyber Threats are Delivered Over the Internet

Cybercriminals target employees because they are a weak link in the security chain, and being human, can easily make mistakes. Phishing is used in combination with social engineering to convince employees to visit spoofed websites that harvest credentials or to trick them into accessing a malicious website where malware is silently downloaded.

Threat actors use search engine poisoning to get malicious websites appearing high in the search engine listings for business search terms to trick Internet users into downloading malware. Malicious adverts are snuck into third-party ad networks to get them to appear on legitimate websites. Those adverts direct traffic to attacker-controlled sites for a range of nefarious purposes.

Malware is packaged into fake software and product activators that are offered on forums and shared through peer-to-peer file sharing and warez sites. Downloading and activating the installer will see malware, adware, and spyware loaded onto the user’s device.

Businesses have firewalls, email security gateways, and antivirus software to protect against cyber threats, but these solutions fail to block these web-based threats.

What is Cloud Web Security?

Cloud web security is a SaaS solution for businesses that prevents employees from accessing malicious online content. Instead of accessing the Internet directly, all web traffic is directed to the cloud web security service provider where administrator-defined policies are applied to restrict access to certain types of web content.

Cloud web security solutions constantly scan the Internet looking for new and updated content and analyze that content for threats, and categorize websites and URLs based on their content. The solutions also incorporate threat intelligence gathered from global networks of sensors and endpoints. When a threat is encountered, all users of the solution will be automatically protected.

Blacklists of known malicious URLs are maintained and blocked, dynamic content filtering is performed, and websites are scored based on their reputation and the presence of keywords. The solutions can be configured to block content based on the risk tolerance of the business, with controls applied for all users, locations, departments, user groups, and individuals.

When a request is made to access a specific web resource, a connection to the site will only be permitted if the content is determined to be benign and if it does not violate the organization’s Internet access policies.  If policies are violated, no content is downloaded and the user will be directed to a locally-hosted block page that explains why the content was blocked.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Web Security?

Cybersecurity is one of the most important benefits of cloud web security. As well as blocking threats, these solutions log all Internet activity, which can provide security teams with insights into malicious sites that are being visited. The logs can also be used by security teams to investigate threats and respond to security incidents. If devices are infected with malware, the malware needs to communicate with the attacker’s command-and-control servers, and these communications can be detected and blocked. These services provide intelligence about Internet activity that can be used by security teams to proactively protect against new threats.

In addition to blocking cyber threats such as phishing, malware, and scam sites, cloud web security services have several other advantages. Cloud web security services are used to carefully control access to the Internet. Schools, libraries, and businesses that offer free Wi-Fi use these services to prevent minors from accessing age-inappropriate content and to offer family-friendly Internet access.

Businesses use the services to block access to illegal content and websites that serve no work purpose for reducing legal risk and improving productivity.  Common categories of websites that are blocked include social media sites, gaming sites, dating sites, and news sites. The Internet can be a major distraction for employees and personal Internet use can be a huge drain of productivity.

Administrators can gain visibility into Internet use, which can provide insights into customer behavior to guide marketing efforts, or for monitoring performance to see where bandwidth is being used. It is possible to restrict access to bandwidth-hogging applications and websites to ensure all users can enjoy reasonable Internet speeds.

IT teams can also exercise control over shadow IT – downloads of unauthorized software from the Internet – by blocking access to file-sharing websites and configuring the services to prevent software installers from being downloaded. Since these services are cloud-based, it is also easy to protect remote workers, no matter where they access the Internet, without having to backhaul all traffic to the data center.

Cloud-based web security services are usually DNS-based, which means content control and web filtering are achieved with no latency – Internet speed is not affected.


These services provide an important extra layer of protection against web-delivered threats and make the Internet safer for employees and guest users while allowing providers of wired and wireless networks to carefully control the content that can be accessed to restrict access to inappropriate web content.