Forcepoint SWG Review and Alternatives

The modern workplace has transformed. Now it’s anywhere and everywhere. Employees want the freedom to use the endpoint, application, or network of their choosing. Companies that can meet these expectations have a competitive advantage over the others, especially in the area of productivity and efficiency. But meeting those expectations is no easy task. Organizations would have to support the growing number of personal devices and applications, secure the network and those endpoints to protect their proprietary data, and provide a consistently great employee experience.

One of the main weaknesses of the traditional approach to security is its inability to provide adequate protection in today’s cloud-based landscape. To overcome this deficiency, organizations must adopt a new approach to protect the modern network infrastructure and fluid network perimeter that extends to the cloud, and the increasing number of mobile or dispersed users. This new approach is called Secure Web Gateway (SWG).

What is a Secure Web Gateway?

A secure web gateway (SWG) is an on-premises or cloud-delivered network security service that protects an organization from online security threats and infections by enforcing company policy and filtering internet-bound traffic. SWG sits between users and the internet and inspects web requests against company policy to ensure malicious applications and websites are blocked and inaccessible. A SWG must, at a minimum, include URL filtering, malware detection, and filtering, application controls for popular web-based applications, and data loss prevention. Some SWGs also incorporate antivirus software and sandboxing for real-time malware protection and prevention.

SWGs are different from firewalls. SWG has dedicated cloud services or appliances for web and application security. They operate at the application layer, and they can block or allow connections or keywords according to an organization’s web use policy. On the other hand, firewalls primarily operate at the network layer and use deep packet inspection to identify and allow safe applications and traffic into the network. SWG is often combined with Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to create a single, unified cloud-based solution called Security Service Edge (SSE).  In this article, we’re going to review the Forcepoint SWG  solution and possible alternatives. Hopefully, this will guide you in the process of choosing the right solution for your business.

Overview of Forcepoint SWG Solution

Forcepoint SWG dashboard

Forcepoint SWG offers real-time protection against online threats and prevents loss of data. With Forcepoint SWG, decisions are made on the endpoint,  allowing users to access the web confidently. Because it’s on the endpoint, Forcepoint SWG follows your workforce wherever and however they go to work. Forcepoint SWG comes integrated with data loss prevention (DLP) and advanced threat protection, Zero Trust access and data controls, and optional Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) for safe browsing and downloads, and a unified agent that runs locally on Windows and macOS devices to enable smart routing of web traffic.

Key benefits include:

  • Increase productivity Enables users to access the web safely from any device and anywhere.
  • Reduce risk Control sensitive data in the cloud and prevent malware infection
  • Reduce costs Simplify security operations with a single place to set and enforce policies

The Forcepoint SWG is part of the Forcepoint ONE solution—an SSE product that unifies SWG, CASB, and ZTNA to secure access to corporate SaaS, web, and private applications. The product editions comprise an all-in-one edition for web/cloud and private app security; and a web-security edition that allows customers to add support for cloud and private apps later. The pricing model is based on an annual per-user subscription. All subscriptions include centralized cloud management, unified policies with data loss prevention, automated access via a unified endpoint agent, and comprehensive reporting. A customized demo is available on request.

How Forcepoint SWG Works

When a client device or user attempts to access a website or application on the internet, the request is sent to the Forcepoint SWG in the cloud first. This allows the Forcepoint SWG to inspect the traffic (including encrypted ones) for malicious content, just as security guards may inspect a person’s possessions at a physical security checkpoint before allowing them through. A similar process occurs in reverse: all incoming data is inspected by the SWG before it is passed along to users.

The SWG service applies all kinds of filtering rules to ensure that the traffic does not violate established security policies before allowing it to pass through. Filtering is based on a set of web categories drawn from the regularly updated Forcepoint Master Database. Acceptable use policies are used to manage devices located anywhere, including allowing or blocking access to web resources and controlling authentication, content filtering, security, and DLP rules. Forcepoint also provides a set of standard web filtering policy settings that you can adopt or tailor to meet your organization’s needs.

The service uses various methods such as Forcepoint endpoint client, third-party single sign-on identity provider, username and password, or other methods to identify and authenticate users. Because Forcepoint SWG runs in the cloud, it can be used for managing remote workers. By requiring remote workers to access the internet through the Forcepoint SWG service in the cloud, companies that rely on a distributed workforce can better prevent data breaches, even if they do not have direct control over their employees’ devices or networks.

Key Features and Capabilities 

The following are some of the key features and capabilities of Forcepoint SWG:

  • Fast and secure access to the web The SWG in Forcepoint ONE has a distributed architecture and geographically diverse edge locations worldwide that enables it to provide fast, low-latency connectivity, especially for performance-sensitive web content and apps regardless of where you work. Most SWG service providers force all web traffic to detour through a centralized data center—whether on-premises or in the cloud—adding latency that can significantly interfere with modern web applications. In contrast, Forcepoint enforces security policies locally on the user’s device so that traffic can be exchanged directly between the user and the website.
  • Stop malware infections Forcepoint SWG has the capability to stop malware from infecting user devices without compromising usability. It provides multiple forms of protection against malware originating from the web. Forcepoint SWG stands between you and malware by discovering and quarantining threats before they can get to the network. It automatically scans file uploads or downloads for malware and blocks it. Forcepoint SWG also incorporates Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) technology to ensure that downloaded files that are contaminated can be used safely.
  • Enforce acceptable use policy (AUP) The SWG in Forcepoint ONE allows you to manage user access and activities on the web. You can control risky websites, as well as block or allow users to non-productive or inappropriate websites with full path control. For example, you can block access to Facebook during certain hours of the day, or block certain Reddit subreddits while allowing others. You can manage access based on user group, device posture, location, URL category, reputation score, and enterprise app risk score. Custom URL categories can include full URL directory path entries, letting administrators apply different policies for different directories.
  • Implement and enforce DLP policies Forcepoint SWG can be used to implement and enforce DLP policies to protect data at rest and in motion.  You can prevent sensitive company data from being sent to personal email, personal cloud storage, or social media accounts. You can scan and block file uploads and other means of extracting sensitive data with the same predefined and custom DLP patterns used by the CASB and ZTNA services in Forcepoint ONE.

Forcepoint SWG Alternatives

If you figure out that Forcepoint SWG is not best suited for your environment and you’re considering a suitable alternative, you’ll find lots of them out there. To help you decide between the countless options out there, we’ve put together a list of the ten best Forcepoint SWG alternatives.

  1. Zscaler Cloud Security Platform The Zscaler Cloud Security Platform is a purpose-built fully cloud-delivered SSE solution designed for risk reduction, performance, and scalability. As a globally distributed platform, Zscaler ensures security is delivered across all users and locations for a fast user experience. Zscaler was named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge. An online demo is available on request.
  2. Netskope Intelligent SSE Netskope SSE is a data-centric, cloud-native, and fast security solution with adaptive access, advanced data, and threat protection for users anywhere, on any device. Netskope SSE protects against advanced and cloud-enabled threats and safeguards data across all vectors (any cloud, any app, any user). Netskope was named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge. An online demo is available on request.
  3. Skyhigh Security SSE (formerly McAfee Enterprise SSE) Delivers robust data and threat protection everywhere, enabling secure, direct-to-internet access for your distributed workforce. This cloud-native security fabric bridges your workforce, WAN, cloud services, and the web. Named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge. An online demo is available on request.
  4. Palo Alto Prisma Access The Palo Alto Prisma Access is the flagship SSE product that protects an organization’s hybrid workforce. All your users—at headquarters, office branches, and remote workforce—connect to Prisma Access to safely use the internet and cloud and data center applications. The Palo Alto Prisma SASE unifies SD-WAN and SSE capabilities in one product, thereby eliminating the need for multiple vendors. Palo Alto Networks was recognized as a challenger in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SSE. A virtual test drive of the product is available on schedule.
  5. Cisco Umbrella A cloud-delivered service that combines multiple security functions such as SWG, CASB, Firewall, DNS-layer security, Interactive threat intelligence, and SD‑WAN into a single cloud security service. Cisco was recognized as a challenger in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SSE. A live demo is available on schedule.
  6. Lookout SSE Provides a cloud-delivered platform that converges SSE and endpoint security to protect users and data wherever they reside. Lookout SSE solution eliminates the guesswork by providing visibility into what’s happening, on both unmanaged and managed endpoints, analyzing behaviors to detect insider threats and file-less cyberattacks.
  7. iboss SSE The iboss SSE is an all-in-one cloud-based network security as a service platform that provides all the security you need to enable work from anywhere. It includes services such as SWG, CASB, ZTNA, firewall, DNS, DLP, Remote Browser Isolation, and more in one unified solution. iboss also provides a unified network-as-a-service and network security-as-a-service into one SASE solution, thereby eliminating the need for multiple vendors. A virtual test drive of the product is available on request.
  8. Perimeter 81 SASE Perimeter 81 is on a mission to transform traditional network security technology with one unified platform. Perimeter 81’s SASE platform unifies network and security functionalities into one network security service solution. A virtual test drive of the product is available on request.
  9. Versa SASE Versa provides all the enterprise networking and security required to support a hybrid workforce. Versa SASE integrates SWG, CASB, ZTNA, next-gen firewall, RBI, SD‑WAN, and analytics within a single software operating system delivered via the cloud, on-premises, or as a blended combination of both. A free online demo is available on request.
  10. Cloudflare One The Cloudflare One platform combines the key aspects of SSE (SWG, CASB, ZTNA) with other security capabilities such as firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) and remote browser isolation (RBI) into one single cloud-delivered solution. Cloudflare One supports SASE by combining its network-as-a-service capabilities with SSE on a purpose-built global network spread across 270 locations around the world.


Big organizations with large networks that extend to the cloud, and a growing hybrid workforce and data that need to be protected may require the full capabilities of SWG and more. If you are considering SWG for your organization, the best approach is to go for a Security Service Edge (SSE) solution that unifies SWG, CASB, ZTNA,  FWaaS, and more in one solution.

Most SSE vendors also provide SD-WAN services, which is altogether called SASE solution. This approach eliminates the management and integration costs associated with the multi-vendor approach. Forcepoint ONE and other SSE solutions such as Zscaler, Netskope, and McAfee Enterprise possess many of the desired features large organizations look for to protect their fluid network and hybrid workforce.