Admin

Internet Security

The intent of the Hamilton County Schools is to provide access to resources available via the Internet with the understanding that faculty, staff, and students will access and use information that is appropriate for his/her various curricula. We strive to provide students with this valuable resource while protecting them from inappropriate content and teaching them to use it correctly.  Below is a summary of the Internet security measures that are currently in place in Hamilton County.

Protections for Students
  1. Our network is filtered by ENA, which weeds out the vast majority of problematic content. We frequently work with them to add to the blocked list of sites.
  2. Student Google accounts are subject to Google’s Safe Search and YouTube Restricted Mode. Those two systems further cut down on the amount of explicit content available to students using Google services.
  3. Student Google accounts have very strict browser policies enforced that enable pop-up blockers, disable exploit-prone plugins, and only allow pre-approved extensions. We also only allow pre-approved Android apps on Chromebooks.
  4. We have implemented Securly internet filter on student Chromebooks. Securly is an EDU-focused internet filter that’s far more responsive to problematic content than Google’s Safe Search. It also allows us to turn off access to other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, etc.) that don’t support Safe Search.
  5. We manage a blacklist of sites as they’re reported to the HCDE IT department. We also check the ‘allowed’ logs on a weekly basis to search for and block anything problematic.
  6. Finally, we also monitor student Google activity for self-harm, bullying, and other distressing activity. Securly uses a keyword system to search for problematic searches or behavior and forwards flagged issues to us, which we then forward school administration.

Ads on Sites

  1. It is a very common tactic to build an ad-heavy site at a domain name that is a frequent typo of a legitimate site. This results in lots of mistaken visits and clicks, which these site owners profit from. We block these as we learn about them, but there is no way to eliminate the possibility altogether. 
  2. We ask that any ad-related sites be reported to us immediately so we can add them to the blacklist.

Filtering

  1. There is a wide gap between what people expect from internet filters and the reality of how they work. The internet is too large, and grows too quickly, for any filter to be completely accurate.
  2. Any filter can only ever be reactive—they work by using keywords, user-submitted reports, and a sort of ‘internet crawling’ to discover explicit content using image recognition and other methods. The problem is that all of these methods respond to content on the internet—they cannot predict it. So occasionally things slip by, especially if it is an obscure and/or unpopular site that the filter has no information on.
  3. Despite these challenges, our efforts in this arena are very robust and actually exceed our legal obligations. Making sure Internet usage is safe and secure for our students is something we take very seriously.

As Hamilton County Schools is moving away from traditional computer labs and toward a 1:1 student to device ratio, we will continually make efforts to improve our Internet security policies and procedures. If you would like more information, please take a moment to read the Hamilton County Schools Responsible Use Policy.

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