URL Category Exception Lists

You can create URL category exception lists to allow access to specific URLs in a blocked category or block specific URLs in an allowed category.
You can exclude specific websites from URL category enforcement, ensuring that these websites are blocked or allowed regardless of their associated URL category. For example, you can allow access to Twitter even if you have blocked the social-networking category. To create these kinds of exceptions to URL category enforcement:
  • Add the IP addresses or URLs of the sites you want to block or allow (regardless of their associated URL category) directly to a URL Filtering profile (
    Security Profiles
    URL Filtering
  • Use an external dynamic list in a URL Filtering profile. The benefit to using an external dynamic list to specify the sites you want to enforce separately from their URL categories is that you can update the list without performing a configuration change or commit on the firewall.
The following guidelines describe how to populate URL Category block and allow lists, or a text file that you’re using as the source of an external dynamic list for URLs:

Basic Guidelines For URL Category Exception Lists

  • Enter the IP addresses or URLs of websites that you want to enforce separately from the associated URL category.
  • List entries must be an exact match and are case-insensitive.
  • You can enter a string that is an exact match to the website (and possibly, specific subdomain) for which you want to control access, or you can use wildcard characters to allow an entry to match to more than one website subdomain. For details on using wildcard characters, review Wildcard Guidelines for URL Category Exception Lists.
  • Omit
    from URL entries.
  • Each URL entry can be up to 255 characters in length.

Wildcard Guidelines for URL Category Exception Lists

You can use wildcards in URL Category exception lists to easily configure a single entry to match to multiple website subdomains and pages, without having to specify exact subdomains and pages.
Follow these guidelines when creating wildcard entries:
  • The following characters are considered token separators: . / ? & = ; +
    Every string separated by one or two of these characters is a token. Use wildcard characters as token placeholders, indicating that a specific token can contain any value.
  • In place of a token, you can use either an asterisk (*) or a caret (^).
  • Wildcard characters must be the only character within a token; however, an entry can contain multiple wildcards.

How to Use Asterisk (*) and Caret (^) Wildcards

You can use either
as wildcards in your custom categories and URL EDLs, but you cannot use both at the same time. This means that if you use
to represent a wildcard in one custom category or URL EDL, you must use
as the wildcard in every other custom category or URL EDL in your configuration—you can no longer use
. For example, you cannot have one custom category or EDL that contains
and a separate custom category or URL EDL that contains
For details about how to use each wildcard, see below:
Use to indicate one or more variable subdomains. If you use
, the entry will match any additional subdomains, whether at the beginning or the end of the URL. Use a forward slash at the end of the entry if you do not want to match any additional subdomains beyond that point.
  • *.paloaltonetworks.com
    matches www.paloaltonetworks.com and www.paloaltonetworks.com.uk.
  • *.paloaltonetworks.com/
    matches www.paloaltonetworks.com but not www.paloaltonetworks.com.uk.
Use to indicate one variable subdomain.
matches to mail.company.com but not mail.company.sso.com.
Do not create an entry with consecutive asterisk (*) wildcards or more than nine consecutive caret (^) wildcards—entries like these can affect firewall performance.
For example, do not add an entry like
; instead, depending on the range of websites you want to control access to, enter
. An entry like
matches to a greater number of sites than
matches to sites with any number of subdomains and
matches to sites with exactly two subdomains.

URL Category Exception List—Wildcard Examples

The following tables list examples of URL exception list entries using wildcards, and examples of the sites that these entries match to.
URL Exception List Entry
Matching Sites
Example Set 1
Example Set 2

Recommended For You