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Online Content Filtering for K-12 — Part II

Two Web Content Filtering Solutions that Can Protect K-12 Networks

In a previous post, we discussed why content filtering is critical to security and compliance in K-12 schools. Not only are hackers increasingly targeting schools to get their hands on personal information, but school districts are struggling to navigate a complex regulatory landscape. K-12 schools must comply with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) to protect private educational and medical records and shield students from inappropriate content.

When users are permitted to surf the web without restriction, they could easily find themselves in malware-infested waters. Students could end up interacting with unauthorized and even dangerous users. K-12 schools that don’t control Internet browsing could find themselves legally liable in case of a data breach or activity that exposes students to harmful or obscene content.

Web content filtering, which controls the type of online content that users can access, is a core component of CIPA compliance and reduces the risk of data breaches. Cerium offers two web content filtering solutions to help K-12 schools protect their computing resources. Both enable administrators to make content decisions while working within each school’s “acceptable use” policy.

WatchGuard WebBlocker URL Filtering

WatchGuard WebBlocker URL Filtering blocks malicious and inappropriate websites to protect users, especially students, from risky content. Administrators can choose from more than 130 blocking categories and sub-categories and create policies based on user, group and schedule through an intuitive management console. WebBlocker integrates with WatchGuard Dimension to provide total visibility into web activity, and administrators are automatically notified when users try to access blocked content.

Delivered as an integrated security service, WebBlocker comes with a hosted URL database, which simplifies deployment and management and provides continuous protection. When a URL is requested, WebBlocker sends a query to the cloud to classify the URL category, and access to the website is either allowed or denied according to policy settings. WebBlocker also prevents inappropriate activity from hogging bandwidth needed by critical learning applications that require high performance.

Cisco Web Security Appliance

Cisco Web Security Appliance (WSA) uses threat intelligence, multiple layers of malware protection, and data loss prevention capabilities to keep K-12 networks secure and compliant. By leveraging Cisco Talos, the world’s largest threat detection network, Cisco WSA is able to detect, correlate and locate threats. This data is refreshed every three to five minutes to ensure protection is driven by the latest intelligence.

When a web request is made, Cisco WSA’s web reputation filters analyze more than 200 different parameters to assess the level of risk, including domain owners, host server, the time the site was created, and the type of site. If an unknown URL doesn’t meet the defined security threshold, the URL is blocked. Administrators may also receive a warning if a site is on the fringe as far as reputation score and security policies. Traditional URL filtering is combined with real-time content analysis to block known, malicious sites and identify inappropriate content from unknown URLs.

Let Cerium Help You Control What Content Students See

Content filtering is essential to network security and compliance and the safety of your students. Let us help you assess the state of your school district’s network and determine if the WatchGuard or Cisco content filtering solution is the better fit.

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