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With web categories, you can organize and classify domains and keywords in a container. You can use categories within policies to control access to websites. The firewall evaluates them in the order shown on the category list.

  • To edit a category, click Edit Edit button..

Within a category, you can create a list of domains and keywords specific to your organization or import a database. These include country-specific blocklists and open-source categorization lists. Sophos Firewall checks for updates every two hours.

For web pages categorized as highly objectionable criminal activity, Sophos Firewall acts as follows:

  • Always blocks these web pages. It won't implement any policy or exclusion that allows these pages.
  • Hides the domain name in logs and reports.

Classification: Categorization that lets you filter and manage categories.

Traffic shaping policy: Policy that determines usage limits and the bandwidth allocated for upload and download traffic.

Web category descriptions

Most categories are fixed and based on a URL lookup. However, there are four dynamic categories. These categories are allocated based on the content inspection carried out on the Sophos Firewall. The dynamic categories are as follows:

  • ActiveX
  • Applets
  • Cookies
  • HTTPUpload

Here's the description of the available categories in more detail.

Category Description
ALLWebTraffic Any HTTP traffic.
Activex Includes all ActiveX applications. Dynamic category, see the top of the section for more information.
Advertisements Includes sites of banner ad servers, sites with pop-up advertisements, and sites with known adware.

The advanced categorization of Sophos data uses the most current technical definition for adware, and thus recognizes the difference between non-malicious adware, such as cookies and more serious spyware.
Alcohol & tobacco Includes sites that promote or distribute alcohol or tobacco products for free or for a charge.
Anonymizers Includes sites that operate proxy services, or offer proxy software, with the specific intent of defeating security and control.
Applets All web pages that contain applets. Dynamic category, see the top of the section for more information.
Auctions & classified ads Sites providing services for individuals to advertise or trade in goods or services. Users can waste a lot of time doing personal transactions in a work environment.
Blogs & forums Includes sites of weblogs (blogs), newsgroups, and opinion or discussion forums.
Business cloud apps Business-focused web applications. Managing access to cloud apps to help avoid data leakage to unauthorized locations.
Business networking Social networking services dedicated to connecting people at a business or professional level. For example, LinkedIn.
CRL and OCSP Certificate revocation services. These sites need to be allowed to ensure correct operation of certificate revocation processes.
Command & control Includes sites identified to be used for command & control servers (callhome, C2) by malware running on infected computers.
Content delivery Sites providing content delivery services. These sites are generally only accessed as secondary content from a primary domain's site and should be permitted. These sites should generally be allowed as their content is usually only accessed via links or embedding from other websites that can be controlled by category.
Controlled substances Sites providing information, about or promoting the use, trade or manufacture of drugs other than marijuana that are controlled or regulated in most jurisdictions.
Cookies Includes all cookie-based web pages. Dynamic category, see the top of the section for more information.
Criminal activity Includes sites for advocating, instructing, or giving advice on performing illegal acts; tips on evading law enforcement; and lock-picking and burglary techniques.
Download freeware & shareware Includes sites for downloadable (non-streaming) movie, video, or sound clips; downloadable PDA software, including themes and graphics; freeware and shareware sites; personal storage or backup sites; and clip art, fonts and animated GIF pages.

This category doesn't include update sites such as those for operating systems, anti-virus agents, or other business-critical programs.
Dynamic DNS & ISP sites Includes web sites that host business and individuals' web pages, for example GeoCities,, and AOL.
Educational Institutions Includes sites for educational institutions, including pre-schools, elementary, secondary, and high schools and universities; educational sites at the pre-school, elementary, secondary, and high school and university levels; distance education and trade schools, including online courses; and online teacher resources (lesson plans, etc.).
Entertainment Includes sites about television, movies, music, and video programming guides; online magazines and reviews of the entertainment industry; celebrity fan sites; broadcasting firms and technologies (satellite, cable, etc.); horoscopes; jokes, comics, comic books, comedians, or any site designed to be funny or satirical; online greeting cards; and amusement and theme park sites.
Extreme Sites containing extreme pornographic or other graphic visual content.
Fashion & beauty Includes sites of fashion or glamor magazines, online beauty products, and cosmetics.
Financial services Includes sites for stock quotes, stock tickers, and fund rates; online stock or equity trading; online banking and bill-pay services; investing advice or contacts for trading securities; money management or investment services or firms; general finances and companies that advise about finances; and accountancy, actuaries, banks, mortgages, and general insurance companies.
Gambling Includes sites of online gambling or lottery websites that invite the use of real or virtual money; information or advice for placing wagers, participating in lotteries, gambling, or running numbers; virtual casinos and offshore gambling ventures; sports picks and betting pools; and virtual sports and fantasy leagues that offer large rewards or request significant wagers.

Casino, hotel, and resort sites that don't feature online gambling or provide gaming tips are categorized under Travel.
Games Includes sites for game playing or downloading, game hosting or contest hosting, tips and advice on games or obtaining cheat codes ("cheatz"), and journals and magazines dedicated to online game playing.
General business Includes general business corporate websites, international and multi-national large general business corporate sites, business associations, and basic business sites, such as FedEx, that enable organizations to manage their necessary daily business tasks.

Business sites that fit more appropriately into another related category, such as Finance or Travel, will be categorized in those categories.
Government Includes sites for local, state, federal and international government sites, and government services, such as taxation, armed forces, customs bureaus, and emergency services.
HTTPUpload HTTP upload restriction. Dynamic category, see the top of the section for more information.
Hacking Sites providing tools or instruction in illegal, or questionable activities to access computer systems, data or networks.
Health & medicines Includes sites for prescription medicines; medical information and reference about ailments, conditions, and drugs; general health, such as fitness and well-being; medical procedures, including elective and cosmetic surgery; dentistry, optometry, and other medical-related sites; general psychiatry and mental well-being sites; psychology, self-help books, and organizations; promoting self-healing of physical and mental abuses, ailments, and addictions; alternative and complementary therapies, including yoga, chiropractic, and cranio-sacral; and hospital and medical insurance sites.
Hobbies Includes sites for recreational pastimes, such as collecting, gardening, and kit airplanes; outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing; tips or trends focused on a specific art, craft, or technique; online publications on a specific pastime or recreational activity; online clubs, associations, or forums dedicated to a hobby; traditional games, such as board games and card games, and their enthusiasts; and animal and pet related sites, including breed-specific sites, training, shows, and humane societies sites.
Hunting & fishing Sites dedicated to blood sports and fishing that may contain gory or disturbing images. May contain unpleasant or distasteful content that is unsuitable in education or other sensitive environments.
IPAddress Sites accessed through IP addresses.
Image search Sites or services dedicated to providing the ability to search large quantities of images. May provide access to inappropriate content from sites that would not otherwise be allowed.
Information technology Sites concerned with or relating to information technology including hardware, software, networks, services, and sites concerned with the sale of them.
Intellectual piracy Sites supporting, enabling, or engaging in sharing of content that is protected intellectual property. Risk of liability for organizations if they allow infringement of IP rights.
Intolerance & hate Includes sites that advocate or incite degradation or attack of specified populations or institutions based on associations such as religion, race, nationality, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation; sites that promote a political or social agenda that is supremacist in nature and exclusionary of others based on their race, religion, nationality, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation; holocaust revisionist or denial sites and other revisionist sites that encourage hate; coercion or recruitment for membership in a gang or cult; militancy and extremist sites; and flagrantly insensitive or offensive material, including those with a lack of recognition or respect for opposing opinions and beliefs. For the purposes of this category, a gang is defined as: a group whose primary activities are the commission of felonious criminal acts, which has a common name or identifying sign or symbol, and whose members individually or collectively engage in criminal activity in the name of the group. A cult is defined as: a group whose followers have been deceptively and manipulatively recruited and retained through undue influence such that followers' personalities and behavior are altered; a group in which leadership is all-powerful, ideology is totalistic, and the will of the individual is subordinate to the group; and a group that sets itself outside of society.

We don't include news, historical, or press incidents that may include the above criteria (except in graphic examples).
Jobs search Includes sites of employment agencies, contractors, job listings, career information, career searches, and career-networking groups.
Kids Includes child-oriented sites and sites published by children.
Legal highs Sites providing information about the growth, trade, or use of non-controlled substances for the purpose of inducing highs or other narcotic effects. Not appropriate for more controlled environments such as education.
Live audio Sites offering live audio streaming of events or programming. Eliminate a significant source of non-business bandwidth.
Live video Sites offering live video streaming of events or other programming. Eliminate a significant source of non-business bandwidth.
Marijuana Includes sites for recipes, instructions or kits for manufacturing or growing illicit substances for purposes other than industrial usage; glamorizing, encouraging, or instructing on the use of or masking the use of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, or other substances that are illegal to minors; information on "legal highs", including glue sniffing, misuse of prescription drugs, or abuse of other legal substances; distributing illegal drugs free or for a charge; and displaying, selling, or detailing the use of drug paraphernalia.
Militancy & extremist Includes sites portraying, describing or advocating physical assault against humans, animals, or institutions; depicting torture, mutilation, gore, or horrific death; advocating, encouraging, or depicting self-endangerment, or suicide, including through eating disorders or addictions; instructions, recipes, or kits for making bombs or other harmful or destructive devices; sites promoting terrorism; and excessively violent sports or games, including videos and online games.
Military Sites sponsored by armed forces organizations or their agencies.
NGOs & non-profits Sites relating to charitable and non-profit organizations whether local or global.
Newly registered websites Sites using recently registered domains that have yet to be assessed or whose content has yet to be established. Sites hosted on recently-registered domains are more likely to be poorly managed or deliberately malicious in nature.
News Includes online newspapers, headline news sites, newswire services, personalized news services, and weather sites.
None The URL category lookup succeeded, but the URL database does not have any category information for this URL.
Nudity Sites containing non-sexual depictions of human forms in varying states of undress. May be okay where more explicit material isn't allowed, although still inappropriate for kids.
Online Chat Includes sites of web-based chat and instant message servers.
Online shopping Includes sites for department stores, retail stores, company catalogs, and other sites that allow online consumer shopping, sites for online auctions, online downloadable product warehouses, specialty items for sale, and freebies or merchandise giveaways.
Parked Domain Domains that are not actively being used to host original content. Generally domains that are for sale or non-malicious typo-squatting. Reduce unnecessary traffic and limit potential for attack from poorly controlled sites.
Peer-to-peer & torrents Includes peer-to-peer file sharing clients and peer-to-peer file sharing servers.
Personal cloud apps Web services associated with apps that may provide user data storage. Risk of data leakage: note-taking apps, calendar apps, to-do list apps, all require sharing of information that could be sensitive.
Personal network storage Risk of data leakage: corporate files or content being posted to personal network storage accounts.
Personal sites Sites operated by private individuals with space to host unrestricted custom content. Sites that may not be well managed could introduce risk or contain inappropriate content.
Personals & dating Includes singles listings, matchmaking and dating services, advice for dating or relationships, and romance tips and suggestions sites.
Phishing & fraud Includes sites involved in phishing and telephone scams, service theft advice sites, and plagiarism and cheating sites, including the sale of research papers.
Photo galleries Includes sites that provide resources for photography, image searches, online photo albums, digital photo exchanges, and image hosting.
Plagiarism Sites providing material intended enabling cheating in educational or academic contexts.
Political organization Includes sites for political parties; political debate, canvassing, election information, and results; and conspiracy theory and alternative government view sites that are not hate-based.
Portal sites Sites that provide lists or directories of content on other sites. Like search engines, may provide content from sites categories that are not considered appropriate.
Pro-suicide & self-harm Sites promoting suicide and self-harm. Schools may need to monitor student activities for potential areas of concern.
Professional & workers organizations Sites sponsored by organizations supporting people with common professional or trade interests and qualificiation.
Radio & audio hosting Sites offering legitimate on-demand audio or music content For example, Spotify, Pandora.
Real estate Includes sites for home, apartment, and land listings; rental or relocation services; tips on buying or selling a home; real estate agents; and home improvement sites.
Reference Includes sites for personal, professional, or educational reference; online dictionaries, maps, and language translation sites; census, almanacs, and library catalogs; and topic-specific search engines.
Religion & spirituality Includes sites of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship; any faith or religious belief sites, including non-traditional religions such as Wicca and witchcraft.
Restaurants & dining Includes sites for recipes, cooking instruction and tips, food products, and wine advisors; restaurants, cafes, eateries, pubs, and bars; and food and drink magazines and reviews.
Search engines Includes general search engines, such as Yahoo, AltaVista, and Google.
Sex education Includes sites with pictures or text advocating the proper use of contraceptives; sites relating to discussion about the use of the pill, IUDs, and other types of contraceptives; and discussion sites on how to talk to your partner about diseases, pregnancy, and respecting boundaries.

Not included in the category are commercial sites that sell sexual paraphernalia. These sites are typically found in the Sexually explicit category.
Sexually explicit Includes sites for adult products including sex toys, CD-ROMs, and videos; child pornography and pedophilia (including the IWF list); adult services including video-conferencing, escort services, and strip clubs; erotic stories and textual descriptions of sexual acts; explicit cartoons and animation; online groups, including newsgroups and forums that are sexually explicit in nature; sexually-oriented or erotic sites with full or partial nudity; depictions or images of sexual acts, including with animals or inanimate objects used in a sexual manner; sexually exploitative or sexually violent text or graphics; bondage, fetishes, genital piercing; naturist sites that feature nudity; and erotic or fetish photography, which depicts nudity.

We don't include sites regarding sexual health, breast cancer, or sexually transmitted diseases (except those with graphic examples).
Social networking Mainstream social networking sites providing a range of personal services enabling users to communicate with groups of contacts.
Society & culture Includes sites on home life, family-related topics and other socio-cultural information.
Software updates Sites providing updates to mainstream software products. These sites should usually be allowed to ensure software updates for mainstream products can be downloaded and installed when necessary.
Spam URLs Includes URLs found in spam, particularly on these topics: computing, finance and stocks, entertainment, games, health and medicine, humor and novelties, personal and dating, products and services, shopping, and travel.
Sports Includes sites for team or conference websites; national, international, college, professional scores and schedules; sports-related online magazines or newsletters; and fantasy sports and virtual sports leagues that are free or low-cost.
Spyware & malware Includes sites identified to be hosting malicious content, representing a significant security concern.
Stocks & trading Sites providing online trading services.
Surveillance URLs associated with video surveillance systems. Users consume a lot of bandwidth having a home surveillance system running on their desktop all day.
Swimwear & lingerie Includes sites for lingerie, negligee, and other intimate apparel modeling; swimwear modeling; models' fan pages; modeling information and agencies; and fitness models and sports celebrities sites.
Translators Includes sites for remote proxies or anonymous surfing, search engine caches that circumvent filtering, and web-based translation sites that circumvent filtering.
Travel Includes sites of airlines and flight booking agencies, accommodation information, travel package listings, city guides and tourist information, and car rentals.
Unauthorized software stores Sites providing software or apps for mobile devices or computers that are of questionable legitimacy. Prevent access to potentially malicious or trojanized apps for software.
Uncategorized The URL category lookup process failed and we were unable to get a category.
Vehicles Sites providing information regarding manufacturing of and shopping for vehicles and their parts.
Video hosting Sites offering on-demand video content. For example, Youtube.
Voice & video calls Traffic related to internet-based telephony and video calling.
Weapons Includes sites with online purchasing or ordering information, including lists of prices and dealer locations; any page or site predominantly containing, or providing links to, content related to the sale of guns, weapons, ammunition or poisonous substances; displaying or detailing the use of guns, weapons, ammunition or poisonous substances; and clubs which offer training on machine guns, automatics, other assault weapons, and sniper training.

Weapons are defined as something (as a club, knife, or gun) used to injure, defeat, or destroy.
Web e-mail Includes sites for web-based e-mail accounts and messaging sites.