Randburg’s St Stithians College has implemented Aladdin’s eSafe Web content filtering solution, supplied and supported in South Africa by Magix Integration. Using eSafe allows the College to offer students and staff free access to the Internet, whilst ensuring they are protected from the more unsavoury and unsafe elements on the Web.
Using eSafe, users are transparently protected without any disruption in service. eSafe simply plugs into the College’s Internet infrastructure and any unacceptable elements are automatically blocked. This includes segments of Web pages with adverts for gambling or sexually inappropriate sites, and even unsafe Java and VBScript code.
Gavin Boxall, director of IT at the college says protecting the Internet users at St Stithians is no easy task. “We run two storage area networks (SANs), 14 servers, about 700 PCs and over 70 Cisco switches to service approximately 2300 users.
“From grade four upwards, learners at St Stithians are assigned a personal user account and have full access to the computers, whether supervised in labs or on their own. Grades zero through three can use computers every day, but only as part of their integrated school curriculum. From grade seven onwards, each pupil is assigned an individual e-mail address, making them full citizens of the global Internet network.”
“St Stithians strives to bring to our learners and staff the very best that technology has to offer, whilst using state-of-the-art products like eSafe to complement our desktop and email antivirus to protect them from the worst that technology has to offer.”
One of the key benefits of eSafe, according to Boxall, is that it provides the administrator with an easy-to-use interface. This means it is a simple process to allow through sites blocked by accident when a user complains they are unable to access a site of academic importance. Similarly, if users stumble upon inappropriate sites they can be immediately blocked.
“Setting up which content should be filtered is also easy,” Boxall explains. “The College has set up various categories of sites that can be blocked or allowed with the click of a mouse. Furthermore, the College regularly updates this database with the latest information to ensure new sites are continuously added.”
Mike Steyn, product manager at Magix Integration notes that providing Internet access to learners is important to ensure they receive a well-rounded education, however, it is even more important to ensure they are not confronted with inappropriate material. Whilst countries in Europe and the USA have policing divisions dedicated to protecting children online, South Africa has nothing of this nature.
“A Web content filter is therefore a critical component for every educational institution’s IT infrastructure,” adds Steyn. “Apart from inappropriate sites, there are also predators lurking behind seemingly innocent facades that prey on children. Using a filtering tool that is continuously monitored and updated is the only way to ensure children can profit from access to the Net without unacceptable risks.”