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Web Filter

Internet Filtering in the Dysart Unified School District


Introduction

School Districts that receive state and federal funding for technology are required by law to filter access to the Internet and prohibit access that is inappropriate. The Dysart Unified School District uses third party software and website categorization to be compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).


How does DUSD filter web content?

All network traffic destined for the Internet passes through a content filter. The content filter, which utilizes a content database containing millions of websites that are categorized based on their content, checks the destination to see what category the web site is categorized as. If the web site is in a category that is defined as allowed, the traffic is passed out to the Internet and the web page is displayed for the requestor. If the website is in a category defined as not allowed, the traffic is rejected and the user receives a web page stating the reason access to the requested web site was blocked. Our third-party solution has many pre-defined categories established, based on customer requests and general industry practices.

There are various methods of categorizing a web sites content. Using proprietary software, our third-party content filtering provider searches the Internet based on keywords, reputation  (meaning, many customers reporting a web site is inappropriate), and manually, by having an actual person review the site. Due to the nature of the Internet and its constant growth, not  all web sites have been categorized yet. In the event the web site has not been categorized, the default behavior of the content filtering software is to allow access to that site. As more traffic to that web site is generated, it will eventually be categorized.


Why are some sites blocked that shouldn't be or vice versa?

As with any automated system, some web sites that are acceptable are blocked, while some web sites that are unacceptable are not. Each night, a new content database is uploaded to our content filtering software. As changes around the world are made, new and recently re-categorized web sites are added to the database. One of the major challenges facing contenting filtering are web sites that have multiple purposes. An example would be a web site that provides a message board system for students to discuss a topic but also has educational content, such as pictures, documents, movies, etc. In one scenario, the web site could be listed as social networking, since students can communicate back and forth through either a chat room or a message board. In another scenario, the web site could be listed as education, since it contains relevant information on a topic with the primary goal to educate. Generally, the  more restrictive of the two categories wins, resulting in a valid educational web site to be not allowed.


What web categories do we block or allow?
 
 
Web Category Students Staff
     
Ads Blocked Blocked
Adult Content Blocked Blocked
Alcohol & Tobacco Blocked Blocked
Art Allowed Allowed
Auctions Blocked Blocked
Audio & Video Blocked Allowed
Business Allowed Allowed
Dating & Personals Blocked Blocked
Dictionary Allowed Allowed
Drugs Blocked Blocked
Education Allowed Allowed
Entertainment Blocked Allowed
File Sharing Blocked Blocked
Finance Allowed Allowed
Food Allowed Allowed
Forums Allowed Allowed
Friendship - Social Networking Blocked Allowed
Gambling Blocked Blocked
Games Allowed Allowed
Government Allowed Allowed
Guns & Weapons Blocked Blocked
Health Allowed Allowed
Image / Video Search Allowed Allowed
Jobs Allowed Allowed
Malware Blocked Blocked
Mobile Phones Blocked Allowed
News Allowed Allowed
Organizations Allowed Allowed
Political Allowed Allowed
Porn - Child Blocked Blocked
Porn / Nudity Blocked Blocked
Private Websites Blocked Allowed
Professional Services Allowed Allowed
Real Estate Allowed Allowed
Religion Allowed Allowed
Search Engines Allowed Allowed
Sex Ed Blocked Blocked
Shopping Blocked Blocked
Sports Allowed Allowed
Streaming Radio / TV Blocked Allowed
Swimsuit Blocked Blocked
Technology Allowed Allowed
Toolbars Blocked Blocked
Transportation Allowed Allowed
Travel Allowed Allowed
Violence & Hate Blocked Blocked
Web Hosting Allowed Allowed
Web Proxies Blocked Blocked
Webmail Allowed Allowed


How can I request a change in whether a site is blocked or unblocked?

When a valid web site is blocked, a user can submit a work order (https://calendar.dysart.org/itworkorders/) requesting a change in categorization. Generally, the process will take up to 24  hours to be completed. Working with the Educational Services Department, we review the web site requested and determine if it should be re-categorized. If Educational Services feels  that the web site should remain blocked, they will offer alternative web sites to visit instead of the one originally requested. Similarly, sometimes a website is accessible when it should  not because it has no educational value, or is otherwise inappropriate. In such cases, you can also submit a work order requesting the site to be blocked.


Why are some students/staff able to access websites that are blocked?

Unfortunately, not all technology solutions are perfect. Often times, where  there is a will, a way will be found to get what one wants. A common way is through the use of proxy  servers, which work by masking the actual destination web address. For example, a proxy server can be used to open a window to other websites and trick the web content filter into  thinking that only the proxy server is being accessed, thereby allowing through content that might otherwise be blocked. Our third-party web content filter is aware of close to 99% of  these proxy servers and has specialized logic to identify others as they move around. However, since not all technology solutions are perfect, the best practice is effective classroom management and reporting issues to the IT helpdesk.


Summary

The Information Technology Departments 1st priority is to provide as rich an  educational experience as possible for students through providing technology and other tools. We work very  hard to ensure that technology tools (including the Internet) are accessible, reliable and safe. Its important to remember however, that the Internet is a big place and while the district takes all possible precautions to ensure a safe and educational experience, sometimes websites are accessible that should not be and valid websites are blocked. When this occurs, please  submit a professionally worded request to the IT helpdesk and the IT department partnered with Ed Services will review and correct as necessary.

Rev. 5/2017