Schools Internet Filtering
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) became enforceable in the year 2000 and since then has sought to protect children from harmful online content. One of the stipulations for schools to be allocated federal funding is to display adherence with the Act.
At the time of its introduction, those who are not in favour of the provisions made by the Act, argue that this is controlling access to certain knowledge and information in an educational setting, leading to a disadvantage for students who do not have access to unrestricted Internet at their home.
Even in the face of these objections and arguments against the passing of the Act it was approved by 24 US states. An additional measure was to pass legislation that sought to establish a program of schools Internet filtering for those educational facilities that are financed by the public coffers. An additional bugbear of opponents to legislation like this is that web filtering tools do not give children the chance to develop a responsible attitude in relation to Internet use on their own.
Since they were first created the level of sophistication involved with school Internet filtering has improved greatly. Over time these tools have grown to include the ability to set access to students access to certain websites based on the appropriateness to their current age category while remaining compliant with all relevant legislation and not impacting federal funding. In addition to this the filters have become much more user friendly and there should be no excuse for school staff to have difficulty in using them without much training or guidance.
Securing School Network from CyberAttacks
In addition to ensuring that children are not exposed to age-inappropriate content, school Internet filters are also very important at blocking hacking attempts by cybercriminals. Without additional security school networks would be susceptible to ransomware and p[hishing attacks. Attacks like these can disable a network and stop staff and students gaining access to vital information when it is most needed. They can even go as far as threatening to release the private information of staff and students on the dark web if a ransom is not paid.
In order to block attacks like this from happening scholl web filters incorporate malicious URL detection and phishing protection. This functionality will stop browsers, no matter what access level they have been assigned, from viewing websites that are likely to be hosting ransomware or malware that would lead to a cyber attack. Security like this is most important for educational bodies if they are operating a WIFI network as these are much easier to attack successfully.
How Modern School Internet Filters Work
Nowadays school Internet filters coem as software solutions that can be downloaded from the cloud with a very easy installation process. The vast majority of solutions feature three security strategies that can be managed online. These include:
- Blacklist Mechanism: This is a system whereby every website that someone attempt to browse is compared to a lists of known websites that have been found to host malicious content that would be in breach of CIPA. Blacklists are updated live by ISPs and can be viewed on many different Internet safety groups.
- Category Filters: This is quite straightforward. Access to specific internet websites categories is denied – this normally includes any websites that contain pornography, hate-fuelled material or other inappropriate content. There is also an additional level of security available there to stop the use of a web security ‘getaround’ like anonymizer sites.
- Keyword Filters: These work in much the same way as Category filters. Access is denied to websites that report a dense level of inappropriate keywords or offensive keywords. The creation of a group’s keyword filters can be managed by any member of staff.
There are also “whitelist” processes available that allow permission to be granted for visiting certain websites that would normally be prevented.