WiFi filtering for student accommodation is a controversial subject. Some people object to the idea on the grounds it infringes students´ liberties or restricts access to educational material. Others support the idea because of concerns about online threats, exposure to inappropriate material and the potential for engaging in illegal online activities.
There is also an argument that WiFi filtering for student accommodation shields students from the perils of the real online world and gives them a false view of (virtual) reality. All of these points raised against and in favor of WiFi filtering for student accommodation are valid to some degree, but a compromise solution can be found by implementing a flexible WiFi filter from WebTitan.
How Flexible WiFi Filtering for Student Accommodation Works
In order to resolve disagreements about whether WiFi filtering for student accommodation is beneficial or harmful to students, it is a good idea to first review how modern WiFi filters work – modern WiFi filters having come a long way since Internet filtering for schools was first introduced more than two decades ago.
Modern WiFi filters now have a three-tier filtering mechanism to protect students´ devices from malware and finely control the online content they are able to access. The filtering mechanism consists of:
- Blacklists, SURBL filters and URIBL filters.
- Fifty-three category filters.
- Unlimited keyword filters.
Once a WiFi filter is implemented, blacklists, SURBL filters and URIBL filters are applied and updated automatically in order to prevent students visiting websites known to harbor malware, fake websites set up to lure victims into divulging personal information or login credentials (phishing sites), and websites that hide their true identity behind the whois privacy feature. It is unlikely that anybody would have an objection to this tier of WiFi filtering for student accommodation.
The category filters sort millions of web pages into different categories depending on their content (abortion, adult entertainment, alternative beliefs, alcohol, etc.) and system administrators can select which categories they want to prevent students accessing. These will likely include the categories of online gambling and P2P file sharing websites (as they are illegal in most states), and may – more controversially – include the categories of drugs, hate, and pornography.
Keyword filters allow system administrators to fine-tune their category selections by blocking access to websites containing specific words. Using this mechanism, administrators could (for example) block websites that advocate the illegal use of drugs and allow access to websites promoting the medical benefits of drugs. It was this level of granularity that was absent from early web filters and that resulted in many educational authorities being opposed to their implementation in schools.
How to Achieve a Compromise with a WebTitan WiFi Filter
WebTitan WiFi filters have the facility to apply category and keyword filters by individual user, user-group or universally. Therefore, it is possible to universally block access to illegal online activities and proxy services to prevent circumnavigation of the filtering parameters, allow access to certain categories of website for students who are studying those subjects, and block access to online material of a certain nature for students who may be vulnerable or offended by their content.
The filtering parameters can also be applied by time. Students who wanted to access pornography for example could do so after a watershed and in the privacy of their own rooms. Similar settings could be applied to prevent cyber-bullying, intimidation and the exposure of objectionable material in common areas. With WiFi filtering for student accommodation from WebTitan the option also exists to “whitelist” specific websites for individual users or user-groups as required.
With this level of granularity, there is no infringement of students´ liberties nor restricted access to educational material. Users´ devices are kept free from malware, and students are not exposed to inappropriate material or allowed to engage in illegal online activities. The argument still exists that WiFi filtering for student accommodation shields students from the perils of the real online world; but, with many companies now implementing web filters to enhance their online security, web filtering is quickly becoming the norm in the real online world rather than the exception.
Try WiFi Filtering for Student Accommodation for Free
If you are responsible for a WiFi service in student accommodation, you are invited to try WebTitan Cloud for WiFi free for fourteen days. Our offer gives you the time to set and adjust the filter´s settings as necessary to find the optimal settings for your particular environment without cost, contract or commitment. Deployment of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is quick and easy, and thereafter you can monitor web activity and get reports on historic web activity from a centralized web-based management portal.
To find out more about WiFi filtering in student accommodation, or to request your free trial of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to answers your questions and guide you through the process of registering for your free trial, redirecting your DNS server settings to face our servers, and configuring WebTitan Cloud for WiFi to achieve effective and safe WiFi filtering for student accommodation.