Following the implementation of the Children´s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in 2000, schools had to introduce web filtering for them to qualify for the E-rate program. Schools are required to screen the Internet to ensure that minors don’t access harmful content. Web filtering for schools is among the tight controls that have been put in place to ensure that learners only access educational content on school computers or via school networks.
Other than access to inappropriate content, web filtering for schools should also aim at preventing cyberbullying, radicalization, improper use of social media, and online fraud. School managers should familiarize themselves with CIPA compliance guidelines as well as digital tools at their disposal, which they can leverage to keep students safe online. Some of these digital tools are commercially-available, while others are free.
The Federal Communications Commission and CIPA do not explicitly state how web filtering for schools should be done. As a result, individual schools use different tools and solutions to protect their students from harmful content. Here are some web filtering options for schools.
Often, learners access inappropriate content via web browsers. There are several browser add-ons that can help school administrators to block or filter websites that contain inappropriate content. These add-ons can also be used by parents to restrict their kids’ online activities beyond the school environment. For CIPA compliance purposes, schools should filter websites that contain adult-only content.
Schools can leverage DNS filtering to prevent the IP addresses of harmful websites from being discovered. DNS filtering occurs on the Internet’s domain resolution layer, thus blocking some IP addresses. Schools administrators can either choose free or pain DNS filtering solutions to filter unsafe IP addresses.
Access to harmful content can be blocked by intercepting and filtering HTTPS and HTTP requests to webpages that are not appropriate for kids. This is an intricate web filtering for schools option since a significant portion of the web has to be moved to HTTPS. As a result, it isn’t that effective.
Since its implementation, CIPA has attracted a fair share of criticism for its narrow scope. Schools are often accused of being overzealous at times while trying to be CIPA-compliant. To counter such opinions, schools should strike the right balance between access and safety when it comes to web filtering.
Rather than over-blocking or implementing blanket policies, schools can filter access according to age or group. Likewise, school managers should leverage technological innovations such as AI to protect students from dangers that lurk on the Internet as well as self-harm. Older web filtering software may not be able to decrypt SSL traffic, thus the need to use cloud-based hardware solutions that can manage devices separately.
It’s a no-brainer that content filtering makes web browsing safe. For this reason, NuEduSEC offers a range of flexible and secure web filtering solutions that are meant to safeguard the online activities of minors. These cloud-native web filtering tools enable school managers to monitor what students do online across multiple devices, networks, and platforms (Windows, iOS, Android, MacOS, and Chromebooks).
NuEduSEC’s real-time reporting solutions ensure that students and other users get protected from online threats when using any device in the school network. This is done by stopping threats at the DNS layer. Whenever users get online, NuEduSEC’s web filtering for schools software compares requested webpages against an extensive database on the cloud containing thousands of rated IP addresses, websites, and URLs.
From this, school administrators get granular tools that enable them to create and implement CIPA compliance policies relating to web filtering. By leveraging NuEduSEC’s web filtering solutions for schools, administrators will also find it easier to block questionable or unproductive content besides creating customized filtering lists. This functionality comes in handy when filtering content according to age groups.
To prevent over-blocking or excessive censorship, NuEduSEC provides multiple gradation controls. These are based on various parameters, including students’ age, grade, and the type of websites that they want to access. Since it’s impossible to filter or block every piece of potentially harmful web content, NuEduSEC updates its filters regularly.
Web filtering for schools technology can only take schools so far. Technology cannot work in isolation without any human input. To ensure that web filtering has long-term gains, schools should educate students about safe Internet practices. NuEduSEC’s web filtering for schools solutions leverage the best tech to make the Internet a safe and secure place for learners.