There are two main reasons why school Internet filtering is important. To protect children from harmful website content and to prevent school networks and devices from being infected with malware/ransomware.
School Internet Filtering and CIPA Compliance
The Internet offers an incredible learning opportunity for children, but dangers lurk online. Providing unfettered Internet access has potential to cause children to come to harm. Children should be prevented from viewing pornography, images of child abuse, racist content, and sites promoting religious intolerance.
Website content filtering for schools is not mandatory in all states, although it is a requirement of the Children´s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The legislation was introduced in 2000 as a measure to prevent children from being exposed to obscene or otherwise harmful images. K12 schools and libraries wishing to apply for E-Rate discounts must ensure an Internet filtering solution is implemented to block pornography, child pornography and abuse images and other potentially harmful images.
School Internet filtering is not only about complying with CIPA or state legislation. A web filtering solution can be configured to reflect a school’s acceptable usage policies and configured to block other types of undesirable Internet content such as gaming and gambling sites.
Internet Filters Protect Schools from Malware Infections
Cybercriminals use a variety of measures to gain access to school computer networks. Spam email is commonly used to distribute malware, but many infections occur as a result of staff or students visiting malicious websites. Many spam emails contain links to websites that silently download malware. Even general web browsing can result in malware downloads.
Symantec reports that the majority of websites have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. If access to those sites is gained, exploit kits can be installed. Exploit kits probe for weaknesses in browsers and when a vulnerability is identified, malware is downloaded.
School Internet filtering solutions prevent malware downloads by blocking websites known to host exploit kits and are used for malware distribution. Internet filters can also be configured to prevent the downloading of certain file types commonly associated with malware – .exe files for example.
If a user clicks on a malicious link in an email, is redirected to a malicious website, or attempts to visit a website known to contain malware, the filtering solution will prevent the site from being accessed.
Choosing the Right Internet Filtering Solution
It is important to carefully consider your options for filtering the Internet at your school, as many methods of content control are expensive to set up, time consuming to configure, and lack flexibility.
Cost is likely to be a major consideration. The lowest cost solutions are cloud based. With cloud based web filters, the solution housed in the provider’s private (or public) cloud and can be implemented simply by changing the DNS records. The solution is updated automatically by the service provider, with the only maintenance required being updates to users’ acceptable use policies.
It is important to choose a school Internet filtering solution that has highly granular filtering controls as this will ensure the solution can adapt to changing content control needs, and for those controls to be applied to the entire school district, individuals schools, and for different classes, age groups, or even individuals.
Some cloud-based Internet filtering solutions for schools will work with wired and wireless networks, but can also extend protection beyond the school gates. When students are issued with tablets or Chromebooks, an agent can be installed that will ensure filtering controls continue to be applied when students take those devices home.
Talk with TitanHQ about Implementing School Internet Filtering Controls
TitanHQ has developed an innovative and powerful web filtering solution – WebTitan – that is ideal for schools and educational institutions of all sizes. WebTitan is available with a variety of deployment options and can protect both wired and wireless networks, and students studying remotely.
WebTitan requires no hardware purchases and set up is a quick and simple process. With WebTitan, you can be filtering the Internet in your school in a matter of minutes.
All schools and educational institutions have the option of using WebTitan for 30-days free of charge. During the free trial, full customer and technical support will be available. If you are unhappy with the product there is no obligation to proceed with a purchase at the end of the trial.
If you have any questions about school Internet filtering or would like to find out more about WebTitan, contact us today.