Focus on Internet Safety
With the E-Rate being so successful, schools nationwide are turning to online solutions. Teachers are finding a wealth of resources to enhance their curriculum. More students than ever before are being exposed to the Internet in the classroom. Administrators are employing innovative technology to secure and run schools more efficiently. Bearing all that in mind, in this month's Focus On we will introduce you to some products that promote Internet and network safety.
From Webroot Software Inc., WinGuardian promotes proper, responsible use of the Internet. 'The software d'es not censor or block access to Web sites. Instead, it can either run hidden or display a warning message to the user that they are being monitored,' says Steve Thomas, president of Webroot Software.
Items monitored include keystrokes, chat room dialogue, programs used and sites visited on the Internet. It also captures screen shots of what users have been viewing. Schools or Libraries may wish to display a warning or acceptable use policy message when the Internet is accessed. Students must click on 'Agree' before they are allowed to go any further. Another function of WinGuardian reports Internet use to a designated e-mail so that teachers or parents can monitor children as they browse. At pre-determined intervals snapshots are taken and stored as a graphic file in order to review what an Internet user has been viewing.
WinGuardian is designed to run on Windows 95, 98 and NT. The latest version, WinGuardian 2.0, can support AOL Clients. We would like to give credit to Webroot Software for an unique approach to safe Internet practice. Granted the freedom to visit any site, WinGuardian still compels users to be responsible.
More along the line of security, On Guard, by Power On Software, Inc., is a software solution for desktop security in multiple user environments. With On Guard, users cannot rename, copy, or delete files or folders. Moreover, it prohibits users to enter into sensitive areas of the system where common errors are said to cause most malfunctions. You can establish levels of security throughout the network so authorized users can access certain data. On Guard reports and prevents attempts to access secured programs or data. Both Windows and Macintosh Operating Systems alike will have a simple interface.
On the hardware side, Log-On Data Corp. offers its X-Stop series with MudCrawler service. X-Stop R2000, for example, is a 'plug and block' device. You simply plug it in and get a stand-alone server that requires no programming or modification to your existing infrastructure. Block mode thwarts Web and file transfers that lead to pornographic or offensive sites. Or, you can monitor search engines, e-mail, Real Audio, Real Video, and other selected services and newsgroup traffic of incoming and outgoing material. If any material matches an item on the blocked list, X-Stop prohibits further action. The e-mail filter prevents offensive e-mail from entering the system, and lets you redirect offensive outgoing material to an administrator for review.
Depending on the number of users in your network, there are four X-Stop solutions from which to choose. For example, Microsoft Proxy server users would install X-Stop Loadable Modules (XLMs) to one PC to control the entire network. X-Stop also provides detailed reports of Internet sites visited by your users, including a record of attempted entry into offensive sites that are pre-detected by downloading the MudCrawler Service. You decide which subjects to ban in the list of offensive or irrelevant sites, which MudCrawler updates every day.
Another server-based Internet filtering solution is WebSENSE, compatible with a broad variety of operating systems and environments such as Windows, Apple Macintosh and Novell. This product allows organizations to control who has unrestricted access to materials on the Internet. A teacher may visit blocked sites within categories by using a password. Also, you can customize restrictions by time or day.
A growing database of URL add-resses are organized into 30 categories of which you can selectively deny access. Their patent-pending technology, IP Screening, preconverts domain names in the database into IP addresses, thereby increasing speed and accuracy. This 500,000 plus database, containing URLs, newsgroups and chatrooms, is checked by a team of people and automatically downloaded to your network server everyday.
WebSENSE Reporter is an added feature that allows you to produce WebSENSE activity reports. You can make graphs or pie charts instantly, showing the number of sites blocked in each category, a list of accessed sites, and/or the amount of bytes downloaded. Since July 1999, WebSENSE Inc. has been offering WebSENSE for Schools free of cost in exchange for participation in a two-year study on children's use of the Internet while in school. Applications are available at www.k12.web sense.com.
The Learning Company has re-introduced Cyber Patrol 5.0. Installation is made easier because it automatically finds and uses system parameters, responding to Firewall and DNS settings. The heart of Cyber Patrol is the Cyber Lists. Professionals comb the Internet to classify Web sites on the CyberNOT List, CyberYES List and Sports and Entertainment List. You can manipulate the categories on the lists to reflect levels of diverse clients. For example, in the nudity category you may allow all nudity, partial nudity or only art-related nudity. You may also place time restrictions on viewing certain material, deeming some material appropriate for after-school. The CyberNOT List is updated daily. After the initial free service, you must pay a subscription fee. It competes in the international arena as well, and offers Cyber Patrol in four languages -- French, German, English and Japanese.
Even a schoolyard is not safe from hackers. To protect information stored in the network, Novell, Inc. has released Border Manager Enterprise Edition 3 for Novell Directory Service (NDS) networks. Within this package, BorderManager Firewall Services 3 protects confidential data and permits user access to the intranet and Internet. BorderManager VPN Services 3 provides secure connections to remote users who are permitted to access confidential data over the Internet.
BorderManager Authentication Services 3 is the solution to outsourcing remote access infrastructure to an ISP while still allowing local user control in NDS. BorderManager FastCache Services 3 makes retrieving popular Web sites swift and easy by reducing network bandwidth requirements. Systems administrators concerned with saving costs may find any of the above software indispensable for their general network security.
SOS Guardian combines an Internet filtering solution with a Windows 95 data protection and configuration program. You can standardize configuration for all users, for departments, or for individuals. In lieu of a database of inaccessible sites, SOS Guardian filters all sites as soon as they are called up. It searches the material for key phrases and allows or rejects the material from being viewed accordingly. The manufacturer of SOS Guardian, Sterling Strategic Solutions, says it can discern legitimate searches and those that are searching for objectionable content.
For the Windows 95/98/NT environments, F-Secure Workstation Suite 4.0 is a software-only solution that combines Data Fellows's F-Secure Anti-Virus, F-Secure VPN+ and F-Secure FileCrypto products. In each of these programs, Data Fellows employs unique technology to ensure accurate delivery. Firstly, multiple scanning engines detect viruses. Secondly, F-Secure FileCrypto uses real-time encryption to ensure that files are directly stored in the Windows file system or else they could be lost. Finally, encryption protection in the network allows you to build solid virtual private networks for administrators or teachers and their homes or remote stations.
WinShield is Citadel Technology's answer to securing shared computer systems against excessive changes and abuse. At the server you can determine restrictions and set different levels of access for all of the users in your Windows 95 and NT network. Options include preventing hardware driver changes, pre-determining specific locations for saving and opening files, accessing only selected CD-ROMs, prohibiting the MS DOS prompt, freezing driver port and spool settings, restricting access to the entire network, resetting all icon positions at shutdown, preventing changes to the Start Menu, and locking screen saver settings, wallpaper settings, display resolution settings and printer settings.
These recent additions in the market address a common concern of educators: appropriately interacting with the Internet and networks. Whether using the Internet as a research tool, source of classroom learning material, or the network to increase the productivity of administrators, we must be aware of the pitfalls that can hinder genuine progress.
Log-On Data Corp.
San Diego, CA
Cyber Patrol 5.0
The Learning Company
Webroot Software, Inc.
Sterling Strategic Solutions, Inc.
BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3
F-Secure Workstation Suite 4.0
San Jose, CA
Citadel Technology, Inc.
Power On Software, Inc.
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.