In order to protect students from harm when they connect to the Internet, a web content WiFi filter for schools should be implemented for all school wireless networks. A web content WiFi filter for schools has the dual benefits of preventing students from being exposed to inappropriate online material, blocks malware downloads and access to phishing websites, while helping administrators monitor online activity and identify students who are attempting to access inappropriate content or who may be at risk.
Compliance and Web Content WiFi Filtering in Schools
Since the enactment of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), any school that applies for E-rate discounts on Internet access must comply with CIPA regulations. CIPA requires Internet content to be filtered in order to prevent images of a sexual nature being displayed on school computers or other devices connected to a school’s wireless network.
In addition to federal rules concerning web content WiFi filtering in schools, many states have also enacted legislation requiring publicly-funded schools to take measures to protect their students from harm when they connect to the Internet. Some legislation not only relates to the exposure to inappropriate online material, but also personal protection and identity theft.
It is not necessary to track the websites that minors attempt to access, although CIPA does require Internet access to be monitored. Students must also be educated about safe use of the Internet, how to avoid and deal with cyberbullying, remain safe while using Internet chatrooms and messaging services, and given advice about the use of social networking websites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram to prevent them from coming to harm.
K12 Internet Content Filters Can Compliment Online Safety Education
In many states, legislation has been passed requiring K12 schools to educate pupils on Internet safety before funding for technology can be secured by the school district. Although implementing K12 Internet content filters is not an acceptable substitute for educating a child about the perils of the Internet, a web filter for K12 schools can complement online safety lessons.
As with any subject, it is far better to explain to a child “this is what we do, this is how we do it, and this is why we do it” than just enforce a rule they do not understand. Using K12 Internet content filters as tools in the classroom can help demonstrate the difference between browsing the web in a safe environment and going online when there are no mechanisms in place for protection.
One important consideration when evaluating a web filter for K12 schools is the ability of the filter to block VPN access and anonymizer services. Children, especially those with older, more technological-savvy siblings, may try to circumnavigate K12 Internet content filters – even if just to show their peers they can.
Considerations When Choosing an Internet Content Filter for School WiFi
If you are considering implementing an Internet content filter for school WiFi, it is important to choose a service provider carefully.
One of the main considerations is cost. To keep expenditure down to a minimum level, it is important to choose an Internet content filter for school WiFi that does not require the purchasing of any additional computer hardware. The cost of school WiFi filters can also vary considerably from solution to solution. The difference could amount to thousands of dollars each school year. It really does pay to research and find a reasonably priced solution that will ensure CIPA compliance and provide other important benefits, without taking a huge chunk out of the school budget
Configuring a web filter should also be straightforward and not require an extensive learning curve. It is also important to choose a solution that is quick and easy to manage, and which will remain so even if multiple WiFi access points are introduced. The cost of IT support and hours spent maintaining a complex solution can really mount up over time.
While it may not be necessary to extensively filter the websites that can be accessed through the school network in order to comply with CIPA regulations, a web content WiFi filter for schools should have a high degree of granularity. This will ensure that school Internet access policies can be easily applied and it will limit over-filtering the Internet and the blocking of important internet content such as advice about contraception, STIs, and LGBT issues.
You should also consider how children will be protected when not at school. If you issue tablets or Chromebooks to students, or allow them to use their own devices, it is possible to extend the protection of a WiFi filter behind the school walls. Some solutions allow filtering controls to be applied to protect students when completing online assignments and homework at home. This is often achieved through a downloadable agent on each device.
A WiFi Filter for Schools is Important for Cybersecurity
Schools and other educational institutions store large quantities of valuable student and healthcare data. That information is much sought after by hackers. The information can easily be monetized and sold to identity thieves and hackers are increasingly targeting schools to gain access to their networks to deploy ransomware.
Ransomware cripples schools and prevents them from accessing important data and computer systems. In March 2021, the FBI issued an alert to K12 schools and other educational institutions warning of a spike in ransomware attacks specifically targeting schools. As Buffalo Public Schools were preparing to accept students back after a pandemic closure, ransomware was used in an attack that forced the entire district to cancel all remote and on-site learning and prevented 5,000 students from returning to classrooms.
A web filter will not prevent all ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks, but it is an important cybersecurity measure to implement to make it harder for those attacks to succeed. A Wi-Fi filter will block attempts by staff and students to access malicious web content, such as malicious sites that are linked in phishing emails or through general web browsing. A WiFi filter can also be configured to block downloads of files that are commonly used to deliver malware and ransomware.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a cost effective, powerful Internet content filtering solution that is ideal for educational institutions of all sizes. It has primarily been developed to protect networks from web-based threats such as malware and ransomware, with features such as malicious URL detection and phishing protection, but it can also prevent vulnerable students from revealing personal information to cybercriminals and becoming the victims of child abuse or identity theft.
One of the key features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is its granularity. When Internet content filters for schools were first implemented after the enactment of CIPA, they could best be described as primitive. Being difficult to configure and inflexible, the filtering parameters were often set too rigidly – preventing students from accessing educationally important material.
Now, by using a combination of category filters, keyword filters and whitelists, administrators can apply age-appropriate acceptable use policies universally, by individual user, or by user group or grade with the click of a mouse. Libraries implementing an Internet content filter for school WiFi can apply the filtering parameters by time, or override them completely when appropriate with a cloud key. These filters can easily be applied to Internet sessions booked by minors.
To recap on the advantages of the award-winning WebTitan Cloud for WiFI, our web content WiFi filter for schools is:
- 100% cloud-based
- Quick and easy to install and configure
- Easy to manage with central control via an intuitive, easy-to-use, administration control panel
- Requires no additional hardware purchases or software installations
- Does not slow Internet access
- Can be used to protect all users, regardless of the device used to access the Internet
- A roaming agent protects users and applies filtering controls when off-site
- Flexible to adapt to changing Internet access policies and highly scalable
- Offers instant alerts to ensure compliance with CIPA Internet monitoring requirements
- Customizable reports on network use and traffic, with complete user visibility and real time views of internet activities
- Application controls, transparent and full proxy server options
- SSL/HTTPS inspection
- Active Directory, LDAP, and NetIQ integration
- Suite of APIs for easy integration with existing systems
- Very competitively priced with a fully transparent pricing policy
- World class customer support
WebTitan Web Content WiFi Filter for Schools, Libraries and Universities
To find out more about the full benefits of our web content WiFi filter for schools, libraries and universities, pricing information, and how to implement a web content WiFi filter for schools, contact the sales team today and request a free trial of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi.
Our team will be happy to answer any questions you have about the deployment and management of our Internet content filter for school WiFi and explain the terms of our free trial offer. Once you have the information you need, you can start providing a safe, filtered WiFi service for your students and protect your network from the threats of malware and ransomware.
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