The implementation of school web filtering software is, for some, a contentious issue. Many schools have implemented web content filtering software in order to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) or state legislation requiring children under the age of seventeen to be protected against obscene imagery and content considered harmful to minors.
The motives behind the legislation are creditworthy, but opponents of K12 school web filters claim that software for web filtering in schools blocks legitimate content as well as inappropriate material. They argue school web filtering software denies children access to support groups and disadvantaged children from lower-income families who do not have access to unfiltered online content at home.
Part of the problem is attributable to some school web filtering software having high maintenance overheads. Network administrators block access to swathes of websites of a certain nature because there is no easy way to adjust pre-configured filter settings; or, if there is, it is too time-consuming to do so. So how can a school filter websites to protect children without also blocking some legitimate content? For that, school internet filtering software must have a high degree of granularity.
With WebTitan web filtering software, administrators have a fine level of control over the types of content that can be allowed/blocked which allows them to protect students without accidentally blocking important educational content – Sex education content for example.
How WebTitan K12 School Web Filtering Software Works
WebTitan has a three-tiered filtering mechanism that compares each request to visit a website against pre-configured blacklists, category filters, and policy rules applied by network administrators. Blacklists are typically lists of websites known to contain content prohibited by CIPA or known to be harboring malware. These can be supplied by us and downloaded from Internet safety websites.
The second tier – category filters – can be configured to block access to certain categories of websites, or to “whitelist” access to certain categories of websites that may be blocked by a pre-configured blacklist. Using this facility on our school web filtering software, administrators can block access to categories of websites considered harmful, while allowing access to child support groups and anti-bullying resources.
Policy rules provide an extra layer of granularity to Internet filtering software for schools as they allow administrators to block or allow access to websites based on group policies. This is an important feature of web filters in schools. Some websites may fall into a category that is allowed by web filters, even though the text on the site is inappropriate for children. Policy rules ensure this content is correctly identified as inappropriate and is blocked. The software for web filtering in schools can also be configured to block access to foreign language websites, websites with numerical IP addresses, and cached website pages. It also has SSL inspection for all website requests to identify and assess the content of encrypted websites.
|15 Web Categories Most Often Blocked by Filtering Software in Schools|
Additional Features Enable Easier Content Control
WebTitan software for web filtering in schools has many additional features that contribute towards easier content control. Browser settings can be password protected so that the filter’s parameters cannot be changed by unauthorized users, although control can be delegated so minor changes such as the addition of web pages to white lists can be performed by a teacher rather than having to contact the IT department. Filtering controls can also easily be applied by user, user group, age, or class. This allows students studying certain subjects to get access to the educational material they need but blocks content that may be harmful to younger children.
Mechanisms exist to prevent students accessing prohibited content via anonymizer websites and VPNs, or accessing the Internet using a USB browser. Administrators can monitor Internet usage via a reporting facility on the school web filtering software and use the reports to identify signs of prohibited activity such as high bandwidth consumption on individual devices or Internet traffic over non-standard ports.
The reports also have a high degree of granularity and can be configured to drill down into individual user activity. This level of oversight can help schools develop and enforce acceptable use policies, identify children at risk from using inappropriate online behavior, and comply with parental guidelines in states where parents are required to specify the level of Internet access their child can have in schools.
School Filtering Software That’s Easy to Deploy and Simple to Manage
WebTitan school web filtering software comes with a choice of deployment options. School districts with large volume WANs may find our Gateway solution more appropriate for their needs, while smaller educational institutions will likely find our cloud-based software for web filtering in schools more suitable. For schools that provide students with a wireless service, we offer WebTitan Cloud for WiFi.
Each of our deployment options takes just minutes to set up without the need for schools to invest in expensive hardware or download complicated software. Our software for web filtering in schools is compatible with every operating system and device – including Chromebooks – and updates are managed automatically by our servers. Once deployed, administrators can easily configure the filter settings from any Internet-connected device.
Our software for web filtering in schools has been designed to be simple to use while remaining a compliant and effective barrier against online risks. We believe WebTitan has sufficient versatility to appease those opposed to school web filtering software while reducing the workload of network administrators with the responsibility to maintain a balance between child protection and over-zealous website content blocking.
- Granular controls provide maximum flexibility over Internet content control.
- Protect school networks from malware, ransomware, and other viruses.
- Protect students from exposure to age-inappropriate online content.
- Comply with federal and state legislation for Internet filtering in schools.
- Monitor web activity in real-time or via a comprehensive reporting suite.
- Protect students on or of the network, even when they use their devices at home
Try Our Software for Web Filtering in Schools for Free
If you would like to find out more about our school web filtering software, we invite you to contact us and discuss your requirements with one of our helpful Sales Technicians. We will be happy to offer you a free trial of the WebTitan K12 schools web filter to evaluate our software in your own environment, and guide you through the deployment and configuration of our software for web filtering in schools.
What do schools use to block websites?
Schools commonly block websites and control what content students can access using URL filtering software for schools and web filtering appliances. These solutions block certain categories of websites and URLs known to host harmful or dangerous content, and – by using group policies – content can be filtered by school year to ensure students can access age-appropriate material.
Can a school website blocker be bypassed?
A school website blocker can be bypassed if categories are left open that allow access to anonymizing services such as proxy websites, VPNs, and certain browser extensions. It is possible to block website proxies and anonymizers and to prevent downloads of executable files that will allow students to install programs such as VPNs.
Can web filtering software for schools be used for content control in students’ homes?
Web filtering software for schools can be used for content control in students’ homes, but only on school issued devices. It is possible to install roaming agents on devices that extend school settings to students’ homes, or anywhere where the Internet is accessed; but the settings cannot be applied to personal or family-owned devices.
Does school Internet filtering software monitor students’ use of the Internet?
School Internet filtering software monitors students’ use of the Internet in the classroom and at home if a school-issued device is fitted with a roaming agent. It is possible for administrators to view Internet activity in real-time and to export reports on Internet activity. However, the extent to which monitoring occurs should be outlined in the school’s acceptable use policy.
Can my school see what I do on the Internet at home?
Your school can see what you do on the Internet at home if you browse the Internet on a school-issued device. If you use the Internet on a family-owned or personal device, the school has no control over how you use the Internet and cannot see what sites you access or what you do when you access the sites. However, even though your school may not be able to see what you do on the Internet at home on a personal device, your parents might be able to.
Does school web filtering software block access to chat sites?
School web filtering software does block access to chat sites as chat sites have their own category. But because some chat sites can be educational, it is possible for schools to whitelist those they feel may be helpful for students. It is important for schools to note that filtering school networks too aggressively may prompt students to use personal devices to access the Internet.
What policy rules could be applied to school web filters?
Many different types of policy rules could be applied to school web filters. For example, it is possible to create a network-wide rule that prohibits or flags excessive bandwidth use, create group rules so that students in different years can access age-appropriate content, or create individual rules per student to access research material.
How does web filtering for schools protect against ransomware?
Web filtering for schools protects against ransomware by checking each request to visit a website against constantly updated databases of websites harboring malware and malvertising. This ensures that schools are not only protected as much as possible against the threat of ransomware, but also against other threats such as cryptomining software and command and control trojans.