Customizing Website Categories with Forefront TMG URL Filtering


Etienne Liebetrau

Etienne Liebetrau

One incredibly handy feature of TMG Reporter is the Productivity classification. This can not only be used to display productivity stats on the dashboard but also in defining alerts.  Fastvue TMG Reporter uses the native TMG website categories.

Forefront TMG's Website Categories

These categories from a TMG URL filtering perspective are important because they govern which sites are either allowed or denied access.  The URL categories are dynamically updated over times as the various reputation sources reclassifies sites as they change or grow.  Sites can also have secondary categories.  These secondary categories can now also be used in URL filtering if it is selected.  For these reasons you may sometimes need to reclassify a particular site URL.

To make this less abstract I am going to refer to an actual implementation case I had when initially deploying URL filtering for a retailer. We started off by filtering out “the usual suspects” including nudity and pornography. The very next day we had calls logged because we were blocking work related sites for the users in the sleepwear and lingerie department. Not too surprisingly it turns out that these sites can be a borderline classification. Some lingerie related sites were correctly categorised as “Fasion/Beautiy” while others were being classified as “Pornography.”

Customizing Website Categories

To manually intervene and correct this issue you need to add a URL category override.

  1. From the TMG management console select the Web Access Policy
  2. In the Tasks pane select Query for URL category
  3. Enter the URL and click the Query button
  4. Make a note of the URL categories that are returned.

Now that you have confirmed the existing category we can change it

  1. From the Tasks pane select Configure URL Category Overrides
  2. Click the Add button
  3. Enter the URL pattern you would like to change (typically just adding an *)
  4. Select the new Category you would like to move it to.
  5. Apply the changes

Once the configuration has been updated you can now recheck the URL category for the site. You should now see that the primary category has been changed. The description now also informs you that it is a User-defined override.

Change the Productivity classification

From a Fastvue TMG Reporter perspective there are some changes you would also want to make to correctly classify the users / company productivity stats. By default the URL categories are sorted in Unacceptable, Unproductive, Acceptable and Productive categories.  These will differ based on the company.  In my retailer example “Fasion/Beauty” is not only “Acceptable” but would also be deemed Productive. To take this further the “unproductive” category of Alcohol should also shift to Productive since the retailer also sells wine. Doing this in Fastvue TMG Reporter is very simple and intuitive.  Simply click and drag the category you want to change to the new classification.   Once done Click the Save Productivity Settings button in the top right corner.

A few things to keep in mind

  • URL categories are fixed. You cannot add your own. Generally administrators resort to using URL sets.  In this case the rule and the report might not match up.
  • Sites that are not classified fall in to the unknown category. They are therefore excluded from the productivity report.
  • Since internal sites would all be unknown, you should also check that the correct and relevant exclusions are set in the proxy auto configuration settings to avoid inefficient routing of traffic through TMG.

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