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Manual Chapter: BIG-IP APM Secure Web Gateway Overview
Manual Chapter
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About APM Secure Web Gateway

BIG-IP® Access Policy Manager® (APM®) implements a Secure Web Gateway (SWG) by adding access control, based on URL categorization, to forward proxy. With APM, you can create a configuration to protect your network assets and end users from threats, and enforce a use and compliance policy for Internet access. Users that access the Internet from the enterprise go through APM, which can allow or block access to URL categories or indicate that the user should confirm the URL before access can be allowed.

About APM benefits for web access

BIG-IP® Access Policy Manager® (APM®) supports basic web site access control purely based on user-defined URL categories. This feature is a part of base APM functionality, without requiring an SWG subscription. The benefits include:

  • URL filtering capability for outbound web traffic.
  • Monitoring and gating outbound traffic to maximize productivity and meet business needs.
  • User identification or authentication (or both) tied to logging, and access control compliance and accountability.
  • Visibility into SSL traffic.
  • Reports on blocked requests and all requests. (Reports depend on event logging settings.)
  • Ability to interactively request additional authentication for sensitive resources and provide time-limited access to them in subsessions.
  • Ability to interactively request confirmation before allowing or blocking access to resources that might not, in all instances, provide benefit to the business. Confirmation and access take place in a subsession with its own lifetime and timeout values.

About Secure Web Gateway subscription benefits

A BIG-IP® system with Access Policy Manager® (APM®) and a Secure Web Gateway (SWG) subscription provides these benefits over those provided by APM alone:

  • A database with over 150 predefined URL categories and 60 million URLs.
  • A service that regularly updates the URL database as new threats and URLs are identified.
  • Identification of malicious content and the means to block it.
  • Web application controls for application types, such as social networking and Internet communication in corporate environments.
  • Support for Safe Search, a search engine feature that can prevent offensive content and images from showing up in search results.
  • A dashboard with statistical information about traffic logged by the BIG-IP system for SWG. Graphs, such as Top URLs by Request Count and Top Categories by Blocked Request Count, summarize activities over time and provide access to underlying statistics.

SWG subscription benefits extend these APM benefits:

  • URL filtering capability for outbound web traffic.
  • Monitoring and gating outbound traffic to maximize productivity and meet business needs.
  • User identification or authentication (or both) tied to logging, and access control compliance and accountability.
  • Visibility into SSL traffic.
  • Reports on blocked requests and all requests. (Reports depend on event logging settings.)
  • Ability to interactively request additional authentication for sensitive resources and provide time-limited access to them in subsessions.
  • Ability to interactively request confirmation before allowing or blocking access to resources that might not, in all instances, provide benefit to the business. Confirmation and access take place in a subsession with its own lifetime and timeout values.

About the URL database URL categories

Note: A URL database is available only on a BIG-IP® system with an SWG subscription.

The Secure Web Gateway URL database supplies over 150 URL categories and identifies over 60 million URLs that fit within these categories. In addition, you can create custom categories if needed and add URLs to any category, custom or otherwise. You can also use custom categories to define blacklists and whitelists.

About user-defined URL categories

Without a URL database, an administrator tasked with treating only a few URLs differently can specify criteria for matching those few URLs in a simple URL Branching action in a per-request policy. An administrator who must categorize and filter a large number of URLs can, however, accomplish this with Access Policy Manager® (APM®) user-defined URL categories.

About APM session management cookies and forward proxy

When Access Policy Manager® (APM®) acts as a forward proxy, APM does not use session management cookies. If presented with an APM session management cookie while acting as a forward proxy, APM ignores the cookie.

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