Thursday, May 26, 2011

Five Tips to Assess Your School’s Network Security this Spring

Spring is a good time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Students are busy taking final exams, and for School IT administrators, it might be time to test your network security solution and make sure it’s delivering what you need.

Here are five tips to make sure your network security and filtering solution is doing its job to make yours easier:

  1. Appearances can be deceiving: Don’t just look at the URL, but look deeper into a page and content-scan the words and phrases. This insures that all pages are categorized, and a page can’t hide itself as something it’s not. Make sure your filter can determine context, content and construction to block out those tricky bad guys.

  2. Look for “Just Right” blocking: IT administrators can be worn to a frenzy keeping up with the educators’ requests to unblock websites they need, while keeping a strong block in place. A smart filtering solution avoids over-or under-blocking and provides just the right level of blocking.

  3. Go for the Interception: Students have become increasingly savvy in finding their way around blocked websites using proxy anonomizers. Look for solutions that can intercept HTTPS traffic to catch HTTP proxies as well as HTTPS proxies. With the right solution, users trying to get around blocked sites will be intercepted- achieving your goal for a safe network.

  4. Be the all-seeing eye: IT administrators don’t have time to constantly scan the network. They need reporting functions that help make their life easier, not more difficult. During certain hours such as lunch or between classes, it may be good to keep a closer eye on network activity. Real-time content scanning provides valuable visibility, allowing IT administrators to nip potential problems in the bud.

  5. Network Security never sleeps: It’s not just the school grounds that must be protected. Users who rely on laptops, netbooks or even Mac portables must also be protected while away from the school's network. The full policy and profile safeguards that apply while those laptops are connected on campus must apply when taken home or on field trips, and while those units are connected to the Internet at the local airport or other wi-fi hotspots. Upon return to the school's network, all reporting and tracking of web activities should be aggregated to the reports the school's administrators and teachers receive on student (or staff) activities.

Does your network security deliver these points? If not, spring is a good time to think about making a change. Once you have a network security solution in place that does its job, you can finally escape the glare of your computer screen and enjoy all that warm spring sunshine.

Thanks for reading, commenting or tweeting.

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