URL Categories

Each website defined in the URL filtering database is assigned a URL category. Here are a few ways to leverage URL categories:
  • Block or allow traffic based on URL category
    —You can create a URL Filtering profile that specifies an action for each URL category and attach the profile to a policy. Traffic that matches the policy would then be subject to the URL filtering settings in the profile. For example, to block all gaming websites you would set the block action for the URL category
    games
    in the URL profile and attach it to the security policy rule(s) that allow web access. See Configure URL Filtering for more information.
  • Enforce policy based on URL category
    —If you want a specific policy rule to apply only to web traffic to sites in a specific category, use the site URL category as match criteria when you create the policy rule. For example, you could use the URL category
    streaming-media
    in a QoS policy to apply bandwidth controls to all websites that are categorized as streaming media. See URL Category as Policy Match Criteria for more information.
  • Block or allow corporate credential submissions based on URL category
    Prevent Credential Phishing by enabling the firewall to detect corporate credential submissions to sites, and then block or allow those submissions based on URL category. Block users from submitting credentials to malicious and untrusted sites, warn users against entering corporate credentials on unknown sites or warn them against reusing corporate credentials on non-corporate sites, and explicitly allow users submit credentials to corporate and sanctioned sites.
By grouping websites into categories, it makes it easy to define actions based on certain types of websites. In addition to the standard URL categories, there are three additional categories:
Category
Description
not-resolved
Indicates that the website was not found in the local URL filtering database and the firewall was unable to connect to the cloud database to check the category. When a URL category lookup is performed, the firewall first checks the dataplane cache for the URL; if no match is found, it checks the management plane cache, and if no match is found there, it queries the URL database in the cloud. In the case of the PAN-DB private cloud, the URL database in the cloud is not used for queries.
Setting the action to block for traffic that is categorized as not-resolved, may be very disruptive to users. You could set the action as continue, so that users you can notify users that they are accessing a site that is blocked by company policy and provide the option to read the disclaimer and continue to the website.
For more information on troubleshooting lookup issues, see Troubleshoot URL Filtering.
private-ip-addresses
Indicates that the website is a single domain (no sub-domains), the IP address is in the private IP range, or the URL root domain is unknown to the cloud.
unknown
The website has not yet been categorized, so it does not exist in the URL filtering database on the firewall or in the URL cloud database.
When deciding on what action to take for traffic categorized as
unknown
, be aware that setting the action to block may be very disruptive to users because there could be a lot of valid sites that are not in the URL database yet. If you do want a very strict policy, you could block this category, so websites that do not exist in the URL database cannot be accessed.
Palo Alto Networks collects the list of URLs from the unknown category and processes them to determine the URL category. These URLs are processed automatically, everyday, provided the websites has machine readable content that is in a supported format and language. Upon categorization, the updated category information is made available to all PAN-DB customers.
You can submit URL categorization change requests using the Palo Alto Networks dedicated web portal ( Test A Site), the URL filtering profile setup page on the firewall, or the URL filtering log on the firewall. Each change request is automatically processed everyday, provided the websites provides machine readable content that is in a supported format and language. Sometimes, the categorization change requires a member of the Palo Alto Networks engineering staff to perform a manual review. In such cases, the process may take a little longer.

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