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Web filtering with user level control.

InfoSecurity Europe : 08 January, 2008  (Application Story)
College of Further Education gains ability to control surfing activity of students with selective access rights provide on a needs basis.
Based near Romford in Essex, Barking College is a Further Education (FE) institute offering A-level, BTEC and City and Guild level qualifications to around10,000 students. The subject selection on offer is diverse, ranging from Engineering to Leisure and Tourism. The College brings tuition of the highest standard to its students as well as cutting-edge leisure and IT facilities for the students' use. Barking College is also committed to providing a high quality of education and training to people in work.

As part of their studies, students at the college rely on the Internet as a valuable and necessary tool to retrieve information relevant to their course. The Information Systems Manager, David Farrant noted however, that students visiting sites such as YouTube were consuming a high level of the available bandwidth.

"Students studying courses such as Media Studies actually need access to these kinds of social networking and video sharing sites as part of their courses, so we decided it was time to regulate all the Internet users' activity so that internet response would be quicker and the productivity bar would be raised for all students," explains Farrant.

With 60 servers and 2000 PCs on its network, Farrant required a solution that would manage web access over its vast 100 Mbs Internet connection. He specifically needed a solution that would allow him to manage the type of sites that were blocked or allowed, depending on the student logging in. This would enable students to access sites purely relevant to their course and prevent them from accessing social networking sites that could impact productivity for other students.

"With our ever increasing bandwidth needs, I realised that we needed to regulate our users' activities online and find a way to manage our throughput of web traffic," explains Farrant. "We tried a number of web filtering solutions, but none of them seemed to be able to provide the granular control we needed over our students."

Farrant then discovered Bloxx web filtering technology; an easy, drop-in appliance solution which uses internationally patent pending technology to analyse and block web sites quicker and more accurately than other web filters, which use manual classification and keyword scoring.

"We dropped Bloxx straight into our network, linked it up with our active directory and were able to start monitoring web traffic straight away. There was no need to configure individual PC's, which was essential due to the number we have on our network," comments Farrant.

Since installing Bloxx web filtering technology, Barking College has been able to free up a substantial amount of bandwidth by limiting access to media content sites such as YouTube. It also ensures that students are surfing safely and productively during study hours. "We have a complex Active Directory structure , but the Bloxx web filter has the ability to automatically manage users' internet access based on their security group membership, which has helped to significantly reduce IT management time," comments Farrant.

"Although Bloxx is very simple to install and manage, due to the fact that our Active Directory has a rather complicated structure, we required some initial assistance from Bloxx," explains Farrant. "The company's technical support has been impeccable and long-term."

"Bloxx has helped us to save money since we have no longer need to increase our network bandwidth. It has also increased productivity for students ensuring that all Internet users at the college are using it in a safe and responsible manner."

"Barking College has recognised the necessity of the Internet in the education environment. It plays a vital part in today's teaching and research methods, however the easy temptation to abuse Internet access in the classroom is all too familiar," comments Bloxx Sales and Marketing Director, Paul Irvine. "By ensuring that students only have access to sites relevant to their individual courses and regulating access to chatrooms and social networking sites during the college day, Barking can promise its students a safe Internet experience during their time at the College."

Bloxx is exhibiting at Infosecurity Europe 2008, Europe's number one dedicated Information security event. Now in its 13th year, the show continues to provide an unrivalled education programme, new products & services, over 300 exhibitors and 11,700 visitors from every segment of the industry. Held on the 22nd - 24th April 2008 in the Grand Hall, Olympia, this is a must attend event for all professionals involved in Information Security.
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