URL Filtering - TLS 1.3 Website

L0 Member

URL Filtering - TLS 1.3 Website


I am new to Palo Alto Firewalls and am in the middle of testing some of the functionalities provided. One of which is URL Filtering.


I have been able to clone the default URL Filtering Profile. I then added a website to the blocked list. Then assigned the profile to a security policy. And it worked.


I found this knowledge base article confirming URL for HTTPS is determind by checking certificate:


"For HTTPS traffic, since this protocol is being encrypted, the firewall usually looks at data inside the Server Certificate that is presented to the client during the SSL handshake. In the case of decryption, this traffic will be treated as normal HTTP traffic when it comes to identifying the category."


Why are URLs for TLS 1.3 recognized? With TLS 1.3  (as far as I understand) the certificate itself is not transferred in plain text anymore?


Happy to hear from you guys soon,
Regards Eve


L7 Applicator

Re: URL Filtering - TLS 1.3 Website

Hi @tpmeier


The firewall does not only check the certificate in TLS connections for URL filtering - it also (or primary) uses the SNI extension (server name indication) in a TLS handshake. This extension contains the fqdn in cleartext - als in TLS1.3 connections (even though starting with TLS1.3 it is possible to encrypt this value with additional config steps).

That's the reason why URL filtering still works for a lot of websites that use TLS1.3.




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