URL Filtering Tips & Tricks

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URL filtering is much more than just mapping a category to a website; it's a useful tool that can be used in conjunction with other features within your Palo Alto Networks next-generational firewall.


Using the Application Command Center (ACC), you can check browsing trends and drill down to get some interesting reports from the URL Filtering widget.





To get detailed reports, you can either use one of the predefined URL Filtering reports that will give you a truckload of information.  If that's not enough, go ahead and create your custom URL Filtering report using any of the available URL Filtering log fields. In case you need get personal, you can also create a user activity report and include detailed browsing info. Detailed browsing information can include a large volume of logs for the selected user or user-group and can cause a report to be very large.




The firewall provides three predefined response pages that display when a user attempts to browse to a site in a category that is configured with one of the block actions in the URL Filtering profile (block, continue or override), or when container pages is enabled.




With URL Filtering, you can also match traffic based on URL category for policy enforcement. Here are a few use case examples:


  • Block access to all social-networking categories but still allow access to facebook or LinkedIn by adding a custom URL category to your URL filtering profile
  • Similarly you can block access to the search-engines category but allow a set of approved search engines by allowing them in a custom URL category; this is useful when users try to bypass SafeSearch enforcement by using non-authorized search engines

Even in a decryption policy, you can use URL filtering. In some use cases it might be necessary NOT to decrypt the traffic for legal reasons. Financial and health care institutions come to mind where privacy is important. For these categories, you can add a no-decrypt policy.


Please watch my video for more information:



Can you think of other use cases where URL Filtering can be useful? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.




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