Palo Alto Networks New PAN-DB Categories

By Allen Wilkes

Technical Sales Consultant

URL in circle with slash through

Extremism, Copyright Infringement, and Insufficient Content

Palo Alto Networks have announced three new additional URL Filtering Categories Extremism, Copyright infringement & Insufficient content. The new categories will provide customers with enhanced visibility and further granular control over the web content in the enterprise. The release of Application and Threat Content release version 602 (02/08/16) includes the three new URL categories for use in security policy and URL filtering profiles. The new categories will be populated with URL’s from the end of August 2016. Allowing customers to adopt the new categories into the existing security policies prior to the release.

The Palo Alto Networks URL Filtering solution compares all website traffic against the list of millions of websites categorised in the URL filtering database and when used with App-ID & User-ID enables the firewall administrator to identify and control access to websites by authenticated user and ultimately protect the network.

Extremism has been defined as “Websites promoting terrorism, racism, fascism or other extremist views discriminating people or groups of different ethnic backgrounds, religions or other beliefs.”

Allowing access to extremist content in the workplace could be risking the business reputation with unwanted and possibly embarrassing media coverage in addition to possible legal action from offended employees. Because of the type material posted on these sites it is recommended to block this category on all URL filtering profiles.

Copyright infringement has been defined as “Websites and services that are dedicated to illegally serving videos, movies or other media for download, explicitly infringing copyright holders.”

The new Copyright infringement URL Filtering category will help protect businesses and comply with the Digital Economy Act 2010, which addresses media policy issues related to digital media, including copyright infringement, Internet domain names. When the Act was first passed by the UK parliament, the copyright infringement provisions were controversial,  as the act states “where a sanction would be applied directly via a subscriber’s Internet provider”. The Act is in force although none of the sections relating to online piracy have been implemented. It still makes good commercial sense to enable this new URL Filtering category and protect the business & directors from possible Copyright infringement.

Insufficient content has been defined as “Websites and services that present test pages, no content, API access not intended for end-user display, or that require authentication without displaying any content that suggests a more specific categorization.” The default policy action for this category is “Allow”.

Sites with no content or designed for API access are difficult to categorise e.g. Business, Gambling, Music etc. To ensure the PAN-DB URL filtering service is accurately indexing sites, these types of sites will be categorised as insufficient content.

It is recommended to allow access to this category with strict Threat Prevention & Wild Fire profiles for content inspection of potentially served malicious content.


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