Taxing the System
by Bridget McCrea
Eager to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which addresses concerns over access to "offensive" Internet content on school and library computers, the Poway Unified School District made a move this year to ensure that its 33,000 students are kept as far away as possible from such content. By beefing up its Internet content-filtering, the San Diego, CA district also put itself in the position to qualify for federal grants not accessible to schools that don't comply with CIPA.
"Our first few filters were software-based and too slow and cumbersome," explained Marc Ludwig, systems engineer for the district, which comprises 23 elementary schools, six middle schools, four comprehensive high schools, and one continuation school. "Students were getting around the blocked Web sites by simply turning the proxy off in their browsers, so we knew we had to look around for something more robust and comprehensive."
When shopping around for a better solution, PUSD learned of a solution being offered by St. Bernard Software, also in San Diego. The vendor presented its iPrism Model 3100, a dedicated Internet filtering appliance that secures organizations from potential Internet-based threats, such as spyware, IM, P2P, and inappropriate content, while also helping to enforce acceptable use and security policies.
"We saw that the filtering would be easy to manage; you could pretty much install the appliance and forget about it," said Ludwig. "So we bought it." The appliance allows the district to block all pornographic, gambling-related, and other sites that district administrators have deemed inappropriate for students. "We have a whole list of categories that we give to our school board," said Ludwig, "which looks at it and decides what it wants blocked, based on CIPA and bandwidth."
In March, the district took its dedication to Web security a step further when it became one of the first to install St. Bernard's new iPrism h-Series Web monitoring appliance. Designed for enterprises of all sizes, the new models are available in five configurations (the iPrism 10h, 20h, 30h, 50h ,and 100h) and target risks associated with Web, instant messaging, and P2P applications.
Starting at $1,200, the iPrisms are hybrid-ready and designed to enhance iPrism Web Filter capabilities now while helping organizations prepare for new features and functionality in the future. Compatible with all supported versions of iPrism operating software, the new appliances provide throughput speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, depending on the model.
Steve Yin, St. Bernard's vice president for worldwide sales and marketing, said the appliance stands out from other security options in that it gives school districts a complete package that includes an operating system, applications software, and the necessary hardware.