Whereas many educational institutions have implemented mechanisms for content filtering school web access, the motive behind protecting minors from online threats is not necessary compliance with state and federal laws. Although content filtering school web access is an effective “technology protection measure” to comply with CIPA and state legislation, other online threats can be far more significant.
Students often lack the experience or common sense to identify online threats, and this can lead to them inadvertently revealing personal identifiable information that can result in child identity theft. Unlike adult identity theft, cybercriminals can get away with using a child´s name, date of birth and social security number for up to eighteen years. Consequently, this type of cybercrime is on the rise.
How Content Filtering School Web Access can Prevent Child Identity Theft
Mechanisms for content filtering school web access were first developed in order to prevent students from being exposed to obscene images and online content considered harmful. These motives are practically obsolete due to so many children having home Internet access or smartphones. However, other benefits have evolved from the early days of school web access content filtering.
School web access content filtering solutions now have features such as real-time malicious URL detection and phishing protection to prevent students visiting websites known to harbor malware or IP addresses from which spam emails are known to have originated – spam emails being the most common attack vector through which phishers obtain the information to commit child identity theft.
In addition to protecting students from child identity theft, school web access content filtering has benefits for schools too. School networks are protected against malware such as ransomware - even when the school provides a WiFi network and an infected mobile device connects to it. Few schools would be able to function if their files were encrypted by ransomware.
The providers of cloud-based school web access content filtering solutions update these features in real time so that students and school networks are constantly protected. As the solutions are cloud-based, all network managers have to do is redirect their server´s DNS settings to the service provider and then apply their own category and keyword filters via the service provider´s administrative portal.
More about Category and Keyword Filters
In order for content filtering school web access to be effective, it has to be expansive. Consequently, over six billion web pages in 200 languages have been sorted into more than fifty different categories (abortion, adult entertainment, alternative beliefs, alcohol, etc.). Network managers have total discretion about which categories to block access to, subject to school policies.
It is not always advisable to block entire categories to prevent students accessing harmful content. Some categories may contain both adult and educational content. For example the “Mature Content” category includes nude art. There are two ways to address this problem - either with keyword filters or by applying different filtering parameters to different age groups or classes.
Keyword filters allow network managers to block access to web pages containing specific words without blocking the whole category. In the “drugs” category, for example, it may be imprudent to give students access to websites advocating the illegal use of cannabis, but it might be important for them to know about other FDA-approved drugs. This problem can easily be resolved by entering “cannabis· into the keyword filter.
With the “Mature Content” category mentioned above, it may take a lot of work - and a lot of keywords - to block access to web pages of a sexually explicit nature (although none could be described as pornographic - which has its own category). Therefore, mechanisms exist to block the whole category to children under a certain age, or to all students not taking art classes.
Try School Web Access Content Filtering for Free
If you are concerned about the online safety of children in your care - not just what they might be exposed to while browsing the Internet, but also the risk that their identities may be stolen - speak with us about our cloud-based solutions for school web access content filtering, WebTitan. WebTitan is a powerful yet versatile defense against web-borne threats that can be implemented within minutes.
We are offering all schools and school districts the opportunity to try WebTitan for free for fourteen days. There are no catches, no credit cards required and no contracts to sign. We believe our offer will give schools the opportunity to experience WebTitan´s ease of use and effectiveness of preventing your students from accessing what you don´t want them to see.
To find out more about how you can try school web access content filtering for free, do not hesitate to contact us. Remember, the implementation of our solutions for content filtering school web access only require a simple redirection of your server´s DNS settings, and our team of Sales Engineers will be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you have about protecting your students and your network against malware and ransomware while complying with state and federal laws.