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Order of enforcement

With Cloudflare Gateway, you can enable and configure any combination of DNS, network, and HTTP policies.

​​ Priority between policy builders

Gateway applies your policies in the following order:

  1. DNS
  2. HTTP
  3. Network

DNS policies are standalone. For example, if you block a site with a DNS policy but do not create a corresponding HTTP policy, users can still access the site if they know its IP address.

Next, Gateway evaluates HTTP policies in a specific order. For example, if you block a specific source IP in an HTTP policy but allow the IP range in a network policy, the IP address will be blocked.

Lastly, if traffic passes your HTTP policies, Gateway checks the traffic against your network policies. For example, even if you create a Do Not Inspect HTTP policy for a site, it can be blocked by a subsequent network policy.

​​ HTTP/3 traffic

For proxied HTTP/3 traffic, Gateway applies your policies in the following order:

  1. DNS
  2. Network
  3. HTTP

​​ Priority within a policy builder

​​ DNS policies

Gateway evaluates DNS policies first in order of DNS resolution, then in order of precedence.

When DNS queries are received, Gateway evaluates policies with pre-resolution selectors, resolves the DNS query, then evaluates policies with post-resolution selectors. This means policies with selectors evaluated before DNS resolution take precedence. For example, the following set of policies will block example.com:

PrecedenceSelectorOperatorValueAction
1Resolved Country IP GeolocationisUnited StatesAllow
2Domainisexample.comBlock

Despite an explicit Allow policy ordered first, policy 2 takes precedence because the Domain selector is evaluated before DNS resolution.

If a policy contains both pre-resolution and post-resolution selectors, Gateway will evaluate the entire policy after DNS resolution. For information on when each selector is evaluated, refer to the list of DNS selectors.

​​ Network policies

Gateway evaluates network policies in order of precedence.

​​ HTTP policies

Gateway applies HTTP policies based on a combination of action type and order of precedence:

  1. All Do Not Inspect policies are evaluated first, in order of precedence.
  2. If no policies match, all Isolate policies are evaluated in order of precedence.
  3. All Allow, Block and Do Not Scan policies are evaluated in order of precedence.

This order of enforcement allows Gateway to first determine whether decryption should occur. If a site matches a Do Not Inspect policy, it is automatically allowed through Gateway and bypasses all other HTTP policies.

Next, Gateway checks decrypted traffic against your Isolate policies. When a user makes a request which triggers an Isolate policy, the request will be rerouted to a remote browser.

Lastly, Gateway evaluates all Allow, Block, and Do Not Scan policies. These policies apply to both isolated and non-isolated traffic. For example, if example.com is isolated and example.com/subpage is blocked, Gateway will block the subpage inside of the remote browser.

​​ Order of precedence

Order of precedence refers to the priority of individual policies within the DNS, network, or HTTP policy builder (lowest value first, or from top to bottom as shown in the dashboard). You can modify the order of precedence by dragging and dropping individual policies in the dashboard.

In Gateway, the order of precedence follows the first match principle — once a site matches an Allow or Block policy, evaluation stops and no subsequent policies can override the decision. Therefore, we recommend putting the most specific policies and exceptions at the top of the list and the most general policies at the bottom.

​​ Example

Suppose you have a list of policies arranged in the following order of precedence:

  • DNS policies:
    PrecedenceSelectorOperatorValueAction
    1Hostisexample.comBlock
    2Hostistest.example.comAllow
    3Domainmatches regex.\Block
  • HTTP policies:
    PrecedenceSelectorOperatorValueAction
    1Hostisexample.comBlock
    2Hostistest2.example.comDo Not Inspect
  • Network policies:
    PrecedenceSelectorOperatorValueAction
    1Destination Portis80Block
    2Destination portis443Allow
    3SNI Domainistest.example.comBlock

When a user goes to https://test.example.com, Gateway performs the following operations:

  1. Evaluate DNS request against DNS policies:

    1. Policy #1 does not match test.example.com — move on to check Policy #2.
    2. Policy #2 matches, so DNS resolution is allowed.
    3. Policy #3 is not evaluated because there has already been an explicit match.
  2. Evaluate HTTPS request against HTTP policies:

    1. Policy #2 is evaluated first because Do Not Inspect always takes precedence over Allow and Block. Since there is no match, move on to check Policy #1.
    2. Policy #1 does not match test.example.com. Since there are no matching Block policies, the request passes the HTTP filter and moves on to network policy evaluation.
  3. Evaluate HTTPS request against network policies:

    1. Policy #1 does not match because port 80 is used for standard HTTP, not HTTPS.
    2. Policy #2 matches, so the request is allowed and proxied to the upstream server.
    3. Policy #3 is not evaluated because there has already been an explicit match.

The user is therefore able to connect to https://test.example.com.