School Web Filter Tackles Anonymizers


SmoothWall has released a new version of School Guardian, its Web filter, which now incorporates support for blocking secure proxies such as UltraSurf.

UltraSurf is a 100 KB download that once installed allows students to visit blocked sites via HTTPS. It is one example of a category of online anonymizers to enable students to work around the restrictions of school filters. Anonymizers are particularly difficult for filters to detect because they allow students to view Web sites and media files within a secure tunnel where content is encrypted and can't be scrutinized. They also present a potential security problem since the tunnels students use for unauthorized surfing also allow malware and other Web-related threats to enter school networks undetected.

Although one solution is to block all secure traffic, districts often need to perform secure transactions in the daily business of running a school. In a statement, the company said School Guardian screens secure traffic for the characteristic usage patterns that are inherent in HTTPS proxies such as UltraSurf.

Users of School Guardian 2008 will automatically receive the new HTTPS proxy controls. Other new features include a much-requested YouTube top videos report (so schools that want to allow the site can check who is viewing which videos, when) and a user portal to allow for self-service activities.

The service is in use at Governor Mifflin School District in Pennsylvania and Saranac Central School District in New York.

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About the author: Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.