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 or be used for other malicious purposes. 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. Administrators can set thresholds, above which content will be blocked. It is also possible to add webpages or websites to a whitelist to allow students to access educational online material that might otherwise be blocked by a category filter.
A 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 to be applied. 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 purposes”.
The main reason for applying filtering controls is to protect students while at school, but the protection need not end there. Some website filtering solutions for K12 schools extend protection to students’ homes. When personally-owned devices are used for online projects, or Chromebooks are issued to students, the filtering protections will be maintained no matter where the devices are used to access the Internet. Not all k12 school WiFi filtering solutions have this functionality.
WiFi Filtering for K12 Schools
WiFi filtering for K12 schools should have exactly the same degree of control as website filtering for K12 schools for wired networks. It must be possible 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 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 have unusually high bandwidth consumption. The ability to review Internet access by individuals in real time is also invaluable, and allows prompt corrective actions to be taken.
In order to qualify for CIPA E-rate discounts, K12 schools have to develop policies for educating children about appropriate online behavior and web interactions. With WiFi filtering for K12 schools, policies are easy to enforce and reports ensure compliance with the monitoring requirements of the legislation.
Speak with TitanHQ about Website Filtering for K12 Schools
TitanHQ 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 can be configured within minutes via an web-based administrative portal with an intuitive interface. The solutions have been developed to be easy to use with no technical expertise necessary. Administrators can apply category and keyword filters from the portal, schedule reports and ensure that acceptable use policies are being adhered to. It is also possible to delegate control of filtering parameters to individual staff members.
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 fourteen 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.
Benefits of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
- Easily block access to age-inappropriate web content
- Comply with CIPA to qualify for E-Rate discounts and grants
- Block malicious websites and malware downloads.
- Block material contained in the child abuse image content URL list (CAIC List) and other third-party blacklists.
- Accurately filter web content through 53 pre-set categories and up to 10 custom categories.
- Filter by keyword and keyword score.
- Inspect encrypted websites.
- Filter content in 200 languages.
- Apply time-based filtering controls.
- Use a device agent to apply filtering controls for remote learning
- Filter the Internet across multiple WiFi hotspots.
- Manage access points through a single web-based administration panel.
- Delegate management of access points.
- Schedule and run reports on demand with real time-views of Internet activity and extensive drill down reporting.
- Integrate the solution into existing security and monitoring systems.