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Internet content protection at Scottish school

Bloxx : 25 April, 2008  (Application Story)
Glasgow school stays ahead of pupil's internet activities by deploying Bloxx Tru-View technology to prevent access to unsuitable web sites.
With 1,100 pupils, The High School of Glasgow caters for children of all ages, from kindergarten up to the age of 18 years. The institute is divided into two campuses for Junior and Senior level, both of which are based in northwest Glasgow. The School offers a wide and varied curriculum and prides itself on creating a happy, caring and ordered community in which each individual has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, both academically and socially.

The High School of Glasgow previously used SurfControl's web filtering solution - recently acquired by Websense in a multi-million dollar deal - to monitor its pupil's and staff's online activity. However, the school's Network Manager, Thomas Makridis found it was increasingly difficult to protect the students from accessing offensive or inappropriate web material whilst at school.

"SurfControl's heavy reliance on lists of URLs to determine which sites were subject to filtering provided avenues for pupil's to attempt and in some cases, succeed in bypassing the filtering system, mainly through the use of remote proxies," explained Makridis. "Another consideration was the need to stop viruses and other types of malicious code at the point of access, rather than relying solely on the Internal Intrusion Detection System."

As a result, Makridis began seeking an alternative web filtering solution. The School not only required a solution with the ability to quickly identify and filter offensive or inappropriate websites, but one that could identify newly created remote and anonymous proxies. Anonymous proxies are websites/servers that allow users to easily bypass web filtering, allowing them to access blocked sites. With many proxy sites being created every week, keeping track of these sites using URL lists has become untenable.

Having heard about Bloxx web filtering technology, Makridis researched the solution and realised it was exactly what he had been looking for.

Bloxx Tru-View Technology web filtering combines the best of conventional tools with new intelligent identification methods and analysis technologies which can analyse and block websites quicker and more accurately than other web filters that use manual classification and keyword scoring alone. In addition, Tru-View Technology can detect and block anonymous proxies allowing administrators to regulate sites being accessed via the back door. Makridis installed three Bloxx TVT-250 web filtering appliances to monitor each of the school's Internet connections.

"Bloxx was incredibly easy to install and fully integrated into the School's existing system; it really was a seamless transition," enthused Makridis. "By filtering website content using multiple built-in technologies as opposed to relying on lists of sites, Bloxx TVT can identify inappropriate sites much quicker, ensuring that the students are protected from all angles and providing us with the level of customisation suited for any eventuality."

Makridis has also configured the sensitivity of the solution to suit the individual users. "Instead of having just one blanket policy, I have been able to tailor the web filter to suit the various ages, subject groups and unique users at the School. Consequently, students and staff who need access to specific sites or services for research purposes are not restricted in any way and at no time is the security of the network compromised."

"Not only has Bloxx significantly reduced costs and made my job easier, but more importantly, by design it is much more effective and efficient than SurfControl was. It also has the bonus of malware and anti-virus functionality, adding additional layers of protection to our IT network," comments Makridis.

"The web-based Command Centre is extremely clear and easy to navigate, whilst the comprehensive reporting provides useful information in terms of which websites have been accessed the most and by whom," explains Makridis. "I am currently refining the configuration of the solution to fully utilise the additional features that Bloxx offers other than web filtering; we have barely scratched the surface of what Bloxx can do."

"Children of this generation are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. This, coupled with the issue of anonymous proxies, means that schools need to strike a balance between protecting their students online, yet enable them to take advantage of the Internet as a valuable source of information," adds Managing Director, Eamonn Doyle. "As the school has such a diverse range of ages and subjects, it is important that the network manager has the ability to tailor the solution to meet the specific needs of the users. It is great to hear how the School is benefiting from the added protection and flexibility of Bloxx."
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