If you’re tasked with managing the filtering at your school, you’ll undoubtedly have come up against students who feel their mission in life is to break through your chosen solution. Hopefully your technology was able to stop them. If, on the other hand, you have been foiled time and again, it could be prudent to start looking into content-aware filtering.
Technology is so heavily used in education that keeping students on track throughout the day can feel like a job in itself. Closing the blinds to prevent them staring out of the window simply won’t cut it any more.
The Different Types of Apps
Applications have all sorts of uses and can be either downloadable or web-based. They can also be tricky to manage.
Whereas a firewall can be used to prevent a device from accessing a downloadable app over the network, it’s considerably more of a challenge to deal with a web-based app. If your school’s filtering operates on list-based blocking, you’ll constantly be chasing your tail as new URLs pop up, never staying one step ahead of the students.
Apps present two other challenges as well. Firstly, they tend to run on languages unique to themselves, known as ‘protocols’, which can be difficult for traditional filters to identify. Secondly, apps run through different ports to web content, meaning a further layer of monitoring is required.
A solution to this is to implement a content-aware filtering solution.
App Management Solutions
With a modern solution, complex filtering can be applied in a few different ways. Specific ports and unique protocols of known apps can be blocked instantly with application control (also know as Deep Packet Inspection or Layer 7 Filtering). This prevents access to many popular apps such as SnapChat, WhatsApp, Spotify, TOR and more, putting you back in control.
Beyond this however, you’ll want to source a solution that provides content-aware technology to assess the content, context and construction of each page of a web-based application in real-time. An unapproved, distracting app running off an unknown yet unsuspicious protocol would be blocked based on its content. This kind of app would not be picked up under a traditional filtering platform.
Aside from being reactive rather than proactive, adopting a URL filtering approach can actually hinder access to learning. A school can’t blanket block ‘google.com’ as this is obviously a valuable research tool. However there are a plethora of content-filled, distracting Google Sites out there, containing this URL. By being content aware, a web filter can choose to serve or deny pages, or aspects within pages, based on what they contain.
Your task is to keep students productive and on task, your solution is to implement a content-aware filtering solution. M-Tech can offer you advice on the leading web filters available and what benefits they can offer your school. Chat to us today.