Many educational institutions have implemented mechanisms for content filtering school web access, the motive behind which is usually to protect minors by blocking access to obscene content to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. Although content filtering school web access is an effective “technology protection measure” that can ensure compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and state legislation, there are also other significant online threats that need to be blocked.
Students often lack the experience or common sense to identify online threats, and this can lead to them inadvertently revealing personally 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 longer – Often up until they become an adult. 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 are used to “phish” for sensitive information. These phishing websites are used to harvest credentials that can be used for identity theft and fraud, or can give hackers the access they need to conduct an attack on the school network. Ransomware attacks on schools have been increasing and phishing is often the way that the attackers get a foothold in the network. Access to these malicious websites is blocked by web content filtering solutions.
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 control over the categories that can be accessed, and can easily block access to any number of categories to apply school acceptable Internet usage policies.
It is not always advisable to block entire categories to prevent students from 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 for 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 FDA-approved drugs. Through careful use of keyword filters, administrators can fine tune the filtering controls to block access to undesirable web content without also blocking educational material.
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.
Web Filtering for Schools and Colleges from Any Location
Applying filtering controls for wired and wireless networks in schools is straightforward, but what about protecting children from online threats and obscene content outside of school? When children need to complete online assignments at home, or participate in remote learning as many have had to during the COVID-19 pandemic, protection can still be provided.
Some web filtering solutions for schools allow roaming agents to be deployed on individual devices. These roaming agents ensure the school's Internet filter continues to be applied no matter where the device connects to the Internet.
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 Cloud is a powerful and versatile defense against web-borne threats and can be implemented within minutes to block obscene and age-inappropriate content to comply with CIPA and state regulations.
We are offering all schools and school districts the opportunity to try WebTitan for free for 30 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 and to ensure that students are well protected, no matter where they access the Internet.
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.