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Washington District Cuts Costs with New Internet Security Software

One Washington state school district has changed Internet and DNS security software to meet Children's Internet Protection Act compliance, filter inappropriate Web sites, and cut costs.

Specifically, Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor has deployed cloud-based OpenDNS Enterprise. The district previously used Websense. However, according to Kris Hagel, technical support supervisor, it was "extremely expensive and included a large number of unnecessary features."

When the district began looking for new Internet security software, its IT team wanted the new product to have certain functionalities: filtering of inappropriate content settings from the DNS layer; universal settings for all 4,000 computers and mobile devices from one location; and protection against malware, phishing, and other online threats.

OpenDNS Enterprise features include:

  • A database that lets the district choose which of 56 Web site categories it wants blocked, such as alcohol, hate and discrimination, pornography, and drugs and gambling;
  • Block page bypass, which allows for different access privileges for individual staff members. For example, a marketing manager might need access to social networking sites;
  • Blocking of specific domain names, even if they're not included in a certain category;
  • Generation of Internet usage reports; and
  • Set-up time of 30 minutes or less.

"It's important to us that our students experience the rich resources available online while ensuring they're doing it as safely as possible," said Hagel. "Management of OpenDNS Enterprise is so minimal, we can really just set it and forget it. It just works, so we don't need to tinker." He added that OpenDNS eliminates the need for the district to maintain a Web-filtering program, and is allowing the district to focus its educational technology budget on network security and improving infrastructure.

Peninsula School District includes 15 schools serving approximately 9,000 students from 120 square miles.

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About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.