How FLCS Ensures Computer Safety
Twenty-five years ago, the use of computers in schools was merely a concept to be debated about in the coming world of electronic education. The past several years have witnessed explosive growth in technology - especially regarding technology in the classroom. Today, schools are learning how to combine global connectivity with curriculum. Networked computers with Internet access provide students limitless opportunities for learning, but also bring with it a set of responsibilities that students, parents, and teachers must understand and address.
Frankton-Lapel Community Schools is committed to providing a secure and safe environment for all of its users. This environment includes a secure network that provides:
- Available services. Users can locate files, access programs, and utilize the Internet.
- Protection. Shields against viruses, trojans, and worms and inappropriate content are in place, working, and continuously being updated.
- Access to stored files. These files are protected via backup from loss or unauthorized access.
- Intrusion Detection. Assurance that our network cannot be used to attack or invade other computer users.
- Continuous improvements. The network and its services are managed and updated to ensure complete security and reliability.
The following outline provides a brief list of measures taken by FLCS to ensure our computer network is secure and to ensure your child uses these computers in a safe environment.
How Does FLCS Protect its Network?
When connecting to outside sources like the Internet, computers can be exposed to threats. Some of these threats include viruses and other forms of harmful programs. Outside threats such as hackers may try to access, modify, or delete stored files. A dedicated appliance, called a firewall, connects to the Internet on one side and to the network servers on the other side. This firewall blocks these external threats. FLCS utilizes a Cisco ASA firewall installed to protect the users and their data. This firewall is required in order to maintain the privacy and security of student-related data such as personal information, medical information, as well as grades and attendance data.
User activities such as sending and receiving email and saving and loading files using floppy disks and CD-ROMs make a network vulnerable. FLCS uses ESet Endpoint AntiVirus software that includes automatic updates on servers and workstations multiple times during each day. This software is a requirement in order to maintain the security and reliability of our network.
Filtering software is one of the most critical elements to a child-safe network. Students could find inappropriate material via the Internet whether it be accidental or intentional. FLCS uses a filtering product called DansGuardian. DansGuardian differs from other filtering software in that not only does it use ‘blacklists’ to block access to inappropriate websites, it also performs content filtering by pre-fetching the requested website, scanning the text for inappropriate language, and deciding to allow or deny access to the website based on the weighted value given determined via the text scan. Although extremely accurate and reliable, it is not 100% foolproof. While DansGuardian will detect and block 99% of the inappropriate websites, webmasters of inappropriate websites attempt to ‘hide’ the purpose of the website to avoid filtering. These websites are the largest challenge for any filtering software. In addition, filters used to block key words like “reproduction” may also block admissible medical sites required as part of a health assignment. All internet access within the FLCS network is logged, these logs provide specific details about what sites each computer and user visits throughout the day, and are periodically visually inspected for any inappropriate sites that the filter may not have blocked so that it may be modified to correct the situation.
Technology Team and Policies
FLCS maintains a group of network professionals with specialized skills and experience. They maintain over 1800 workstations and 2000 Chromebooks, as well as multiple servers, networking equipment, printers, D2D2T backups, software, cameras, VoIP phone systems, and much, much more.
We hope this brief overview provides you with the assurance that FLCS is providing an up-to-date, reliable, and secure computer network as part of your child’s education. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or building principal.