Following the passage of the Children´s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in 2000, many educational institutions implemented WiFi and website filtering for K12 schools in order to qualify for E-rate discounts. Many more subsequently implemented website filters following the passage of laws in twenty-four states designed to protect children against “access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors”.
However, not all website filters are fully effective at blocking access to harmful online material. Many website owners have opted to make their websites “secure” by encrypting them in order to get better rankings in search engine result pages. Website filters unable to decrypt these websites will consequently allow access to harmful online material because they do not detect that the website contains prohibited material.
How Website Filtering for K12 Schools Works
Website filtering for K12 schools works using a three-stage filtering mechanism. The mechanism comprises of blacklists, category filters and keyword filters that not only prevent children from accessing harmful online material, but also provide a strong defense against web-borne threats such as malware.
- Blacklists can consist of websites known to host inappropriate imagery, or websites known to harbor malware. These are provided and updated by a filtering service provider, and can be downloaded from Internet safety websites.
- Category filters can be applied to block access to certain categories of website. These filters should contain SSL inspection to decrypt websites containing inappropriate material such as pornography, racial hatred, and religious intolerance.
- Keyword filters are used to prohibit or allow access to web pages containing selected words. This fine-tuning tool enables administrators to create whitelists to allow students to access educational online material that might otherwise be blocked by a category filter.
Website filter for K12 schools should be sufficiently versatile to allow for different filtering parameters to be set for each age group, and for time-based controls. In libraries, administrators should have access to a “cloud key” that overrides the category and keyword filters when unfiltered access to the Internet is requested for “bona fide research or other lawful purpose”.
WiFi Filtering for K12 Schools
WiFi filtering for K12 schools should have exactly the same degree of control as website filtering for K12 schools in order to prevent students from bypassing the filtering mechanism by connecting to the Internet via VPNs and anonymizer websites. WiFi category filters should also be configured to block access to numerical IP addresses, access to foreign language websites and cached web pages.
One important feature of a website filter is its reporting capabilities. Administrators should be able to configure the reports to show when access to a website has been blocked, and when attempts have been made to circumnavigate the filter´s parameters. The reports can also help identify infected devices that have traffic travelling via non-standard ports or unusually high bandwidth consumption.
In order to qualify for CIPA E-rate discounts, K12 schools have to develop policies for educating children about appropriate online behavior and interaction. With WiFi filtering for K12 schools, policies are easier to enforce using the reports, and they can also be used to substantiate that CIPA and companion state laws are being complied with.
Speak with SpamTitan about Website Filtering for K12 Schools
SpamTitan is part of a group that has been developing online security solutions for almost twenty years. Our portfolio of products includes WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – both versatile and scalable cloud-based website filters that require neither expensive hardware nor high-management software installations.
WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are compatible with all operating systems and devices. Both have SSL inspection and both can be configured within minutes via an online administrative portal that has an intuitive interface. Administrators can apply category and keyword filters from the portal, schedule reports and ensure that acceptable use policies are being adhered to.
If you would like to try website filtering for K12 schools – or WiFi filtering for K12 schools if your school provides a wireless network for students – do not hesitate to get in touch. We are offering all K12 schools the opportunity to try WebTitan Cloud or WebTitan Cloud for WiFi three for thirty days with no obligation to continue with the service at the end of the trial period.
Implementation of the website filter is easy. All that is required is a redirection of your DNS to our servers, and your school can be filtering the websites your students have access to within fifteen minutes. Call us today and speak with our team of sales technicians to find out more about our free trial offer and more about website filtering for K12 schools.