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Tech Favorites

Internet Security Talk

March/April 2009

Tech experts share how they guard the network gates.

Vipre
Reviewer: Lane Virgin
Server Administrator, District 93, Bonneville, Idaho

Challenge: We were having a lot of problems in our secondary schools. One high school was bumped pretty hard by a virus.

Response: Vipre cleaned up a big mess for us. Without it, we would have had to rebuild all the computers and labs. I’m using a different type of deployment with eight Vipre servers. By giving each building tech their own instance of Vipre, they can work with their schools to schedule timely maintenance and scanning.

Lesson Learned: Vipre gives my tech staff a sense of ownership over the networks in their schools.

Ease of Use: It was simple and easy to deploy, as well as policy-based.

Appeal: It’s remote deployment, so there’s zero-touch on the machines. We’re a small department for the size of the district, so if my tech people can sit at their desk and use it, that saves a lot of headache and running around the building.

Final Word: I like Vipre’s flexibility. The software allows you to tailor your policies, and determine what the end-user sees.

SmoothWall
Reviewer: Rachel Dombrowski
Director of Technology, Gov. Mifflin School District, Shillington, Pennsylvania

Challenge: We needed a cipa-compliant Web filter, because the district had outgrown our original choice.

Response: We found it to be very user-friendly. It was such a smooth, quick interface and did everything we wanted it to do.

Lesson Learned: Initially I tightened everything up, but as we proceeded, teachers would contact me to open things, which gave me an opportunity to look at their needs. So, as we continue to use the program it becomes a better fit for the district.
Ease of Use: In a word: intuitive. If you’ve tooled around the box a little bit, and you’re tech-minded, you can figure this out very easily.

Appeal: My team and the administrators love the fact that the filter is customizable. Teachers like the fact that they can go in and see what they need to see for lessons.

Final Word: It gives you everything that you want in this nice tidy package. And if there’s anything that needs to be customized, SmoothWall is only an e-mail or a call away.

Lightspeed Systems
Reviewer: Mike Pace
Network Administrator, Valley School District RE-1Sterling, Colorado


Challenge: We needed a well priced, all-in-one Internet security filter.

Response: Lightspeed has the best support I’ve seen. We had a small issue on our database, in the coding, and they fixed it. I didn’t have to follow up, because they handled it all. That’s the way it should be when you purchase a product.

Lesson Learned: Having everything organized in your active directory structure makes it very simple to deploy. That’s the key—Lightspeed interfaces with active directory.

Ease of Use: I control the network myself. It’s perfect for single-administrator districts like ours.

Appeal: It answers how to handle roving laptops throughout the district for our 1:1 program. Lightspeed controls their connections. All searches are logged—by monitoring we’re aware before it gets bad.

Final Word: Their server farm handles about 80 percent of our requests, and they have a team that actually goes to the sites to determine categories for me.

Astaro
 Reviewer: Gray Huggins
Director of Technology, Bishop Lynch High School, Austin, Texas


Challenge: We had several point solutions, so we were looking to consolidate to one for centralized management.

Response: Whenever I have a question about a feature, I can talk with someone. They take ownership of my problems, and work with me within the confines of my existing budget.

Lesson Learned: We’ve upgraded to a 20 MB pipeline and looking at the performance stats—the system is bored—it handles things so well.

Ease of Use: It is a very intuitive, easy-to-use interface. It’s scalable, so you can group things, and put your policies on groups or clusters. That allows you to manage on a more abstract layer, if necessary.

Appeal: Instead of having the bad stuff coming into my internal network, the detection happens on the periphery. We have improved Internet content filtering—a step up from what we had—at less cost and with more flexibility.

Final Word: It appeals to the guy who manages the firewall and the guy who manages the budget.

Marshal8e6

 Reviewer: Jim Culbert
Information Security Analyst, Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, Florida

Challenge: Ten years ago, we had to find a cipa-compliant content filter—to bring Internet to the district.

Response: The background reporting system is phenomenal. Support has actually brought in Marshal8e6 engineers for solutions. Their focus is on the K–12 environment—its categories and Web 2.0 issues.

Lesson Learned: I believe that kids that are monitored make better decisions on the Internet, and Marshal8e6 helps us do that.

Ease of Use: You can have this box up an running within an hour. It has some defaults set in, so if your main concern is to be cipa-compliant, you can set it there. Want more? You can have one profile for an entire district, or you can have multiple profiles, based upon who’s logging in.

Final Word: It’s an appliance-based solution that comes pre-loaded, easy to install, and manage. You can customize it for the level of access you want for your schools and staff. They’re also great at getting back to me with answers.   

3 More Options
Faronics

Faronics WINSelect keeps track of activity on unmonitored computers. It can limit access on machines for young students, and allow more access in libraries, and on administrative machines for staff. WINSelect has an easy-to-use interface, allowing IT personnel to control and maintain optimum network conditions. Access for students to software applications, websites, and system settings can be controlled and monitored, too. Restrictions can be placed on the length of student sessions; student access to storage devices, and even printers.

Netop

Netop’s NetFilter guards against students circumventing Internet filters, and staff questioning why appropriate websites are being blocked by overly aggressive filters. NetFilter dynamically analyzes websites in real-time, so it continuously updates Internet protection. Flexible features let schools stop instant messaging, chat, and file-sharing, as well as block unwanted downloads that consume network bandwidth and waste resources. Netop also has School6, which is a complete classroom management software.

netsupport

NetSupport Protect includes an extensive list of security features to protect school computing environment changes, whether accidental or malicious. It prevents users from deleting critical files and applications, making unauthorized changes, as well as saving or using unauthorized programs and harming the operating system. It gives users what they need, while safeguarding network and computer configuration and content. NetSupport also has Notify 2.0, a desktop alert mass- notification system for alerts across a LAN or WAN to both Windows and Macs.           

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