Meet Our New Web Content Filter — Securly

This summer CCSD changed web content filters and went with Securly.  While no product in this space is perfect, I believe that Securly provides some really interesting, (and hopefully useful) features.  Below is a a Q and A on how it will work.

Q:  Why did we change filters?  

A:  While we liked iBoss for the most part, the way they filter off site (take home) devices was causing a bottleneck.  There was a noticeable negative performance hit when devices went off site.  This was the main problem we were looking to solve.  In our evaluation of new products, we liked Securly’s model to address this type of problem.  Securly is totally cloud-based with no hardware located at CCSD.   So, there’s no performance slow down for taking a device off the CCSD network.  However, once we looked at the full set of features, we really liked the other things Securly had to offer.  Here’s a quick list:

  • Seamless integration with Google Apps for Education.  Student and staff will use Google account information to login to Securly.
  • Clear reporting.  We can now see — in an easy to understand format – an account’s web history, search history, video history, and social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+).Securly Video log
  • Teacher Whitelists.  Teachers will be able to whitelist sites on the fly for the day.  If you need a site whitelisted permanently, please contact the technology office.
  • Active content flagging — Tracks and reports activity on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) with negative sentiments like grief, self harm, or bullying.
  • Coming Soon — Securly Parental Portal.  Before the end of the calendar year, Securly will rollout their version of the Parental Portal.  Parents will be able to login and see all of the browsing history, search history, and social media history for their children when they are using school devices.  There will be the option for these reports to be emailed weekly to parents.  Parents will also be able to make filtering more restrictive for their children when browsing at home.


Q: How will Securly work differently from iBoss?

A:  There are several key differences, and we are implementing these changes in different ways based upon building grade level.  For our 5th grade through 12th grade buildings (including Prairie Edge and Prairie Delta), All users will be forced to login to Google when they open a web-browser each day.  While this sounds a bit cumbersome, it should not be too troublesome as this login will also work to open Gmail or the other Google Apps for Education tools which is probably something we all do each day anyway.  This will be true for both students and staff.  The reason for forced login is that it let’s Securly know who you are.  That way we can give students the proper filtering policy and we can also give staff the appropriate policy (which in addition to being more permissive allows for whitelisting).  This forced login also makes reports and logs much more accurate.

In out K-4 buildings, we felt that a forced login would be too difficult for our youngest learners.  This would mean that kindergarteners would need to remember and type in their Google email address and password before doing anything online.  The trade-off with doing things this way is that we will lose almost all ability to log or track what’s happening with specific accounts while online.  In other words, we won’t be able to run user history reports.  But, this seems like a necessary trade.


Q: How will this work with personal devices?

A:  Securly requires that we install a security certificate on every device that connects to our network. While this sounds scary and very technical, it’s actually a very simple, one-time process.  This summer we installed this certificate on all office computers, all student Macbooks, all iPads  that we updated as part of our summer work, and we pushed it out to all student Chromebooks.  We did not get it on any staff MacBooks (unless you got an updated computer this summer) and, of course, it’s not on any personal devices.

Again, the certificate is really easy to install.  We’ve put a link to it on our district website  and a lot of you will be able to do this independently.  Just download the certificate and follow the on-screen instructions for installation.  On MacBooks, it does need to be double-clicked to start the process.   If you don’t install the certificate, you will not be able to access any secure site — such as Gmail, YouTube, etc…  On the website, behind the “Securly” button we have screencasts on how to install the certificate on various devices.  Of course, if you get stuck or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Angela to setup a time for one of the techs to have a look at it.


Q:  When will we start using Securly?

A:  UPDATE —We are already using it with student take-home Chromebooks.  We implemented Securly for all onsite devices on 7/20/16.

Q: UPDATE –Why doesn’t my personal Gmail account work here at school with Securly?

A:  Personal Gmail accounts will now work for both staff and students on the Prairie network.  We were never happy  restricting it.  So, we kept working on a new solution to solve the particular problem with student use.  We came at this problem from a different angel and this  new approach allows us to remove this restriction.  I’m sorry for any inconvenience this restriction may have caused.

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