Web page blocked under KO Wifi: the reasons why

Under the Radar

Have you ever tried to access a website on the school’s wifi that was blocked? If so, have you ever wondered how or why this has happened? Have you ever wondered who was in charge of this?

A recent KO News survey asked students these exact questions. Interestingly, the students-surveyed had vastly different ideas of how KO blocks websites. Some said they thought that Dean of Students William Gilyard oversees the blockings. Others suggested that the IT Staff: Director of Technology Daniel Bateson and Computer Support Coordinator Erik Durr are responsible for blocking each website. Still others said that teachers must be the ones blocking Urban Dictionary and Slader.com.

“I think that the websites are blocked whether or not the school thinks that it’s appropriate for the students to view,” junior Alyssa Pilecki said. These disparate ideas are all incorrect to varying degrees. Apparently, there is a lack of transparency—though benign—on KO’s part. So, the question remains: how are websites blocked at KO?  The service that blocks these websites is called FortiGuard Labs, and KO has been using it for about five years.

FortiGuard Labs implements the most recent protection systems against stealthy network-level menaces and threats. It uses a personalized database of more 1,100 known threats to authorize FortiGate (Next Generation Firewall) and FortiWifi devices to stop attacks that elude conventional firewall defenses. Websites that are blocked under the school’s wifi aren’t blocked separately or individually, but rather in categories under the firewall that does all of the web filtering. If a website is rated under any of those categories, then they will be immediately blocked.

These categories include potentially liable (this includes: child abuse, discrimination, drug abuse, explicit violence, extremist groups, hacking, illegal or unethical plagiarism prey avoidance), adult/mature content (abortion, dating, gambling, lingerie and swimsuit for sex education, nudity, tobacco, weapons), advertising, and spam.

Categories that block some, but not all websites include bandwidth consuming (which can be file sharing storage, peer to peer file sharing – which is not as important as it once was).  On the wireless end, they block a few additional websites for the users that are connected to KO Wireless which is used mostly by students.

Junior Will Burstein said that he already knew about exactly how the websites were blocked, in constrast to many other students-surveyed. “It’s just common knowledge as everyone has experience a page saying that a website is blocked for a various reason,” Will said.  

It’s standard for any administration to moderate their interent use to prevent problematic happenings.  More categories than individual websites are blocked  because there are more than two billion websites on the internet, and it would be  very difficult for the Information Technology (IT) staff to block each website that is risky or detrimental.

“It would be impossible for us to individually block each website,”  Mr. Bateson said. If a website is incorrectly rated on any of these said categories, and a student, teacher or staff member would like to access said website, then they can ask Mr. Bateson to unblock it. “There are instances where a site that has perfectly legitimate use needs to be accessed from campus, but it is blocked because it falls under one of these [catagories],” Mr. Bateson said.

“It can even be because it wasn’t rated correctly and there are mistakes, or it was rated correctly but there is still a totally legitimate use. We can unblock them.” Before Mr. Bateson unblocks it, he needs to view the website to make sure that it isn’t malicious, meaning it won’t do something harmful or damaging to our network. This oversight only occurs with respect to the school’s wifi; Mr. Bateson has no control over what happens through students’ or teachers’ cellular devices where they can use data. “Anyone, anytime, can do whatever they want through their phone, through an AT&T or Verizon network,”  Mr. Bateson said.

The company (Fortiguard) constantly receives exceptional, efficient results in the industry when they test with Virus Bulletin and AV Comparatives. They are ranked the second highest business AV solution for security effectiveness. The company’s IP Reputation Service accumulates harmful source IP data from the multiple Fortinet shared networks.

These networks all provide present current information about hostile sources that are threatening. FortiGuard Labs combines with NRT (near real-time) intelligence network gates so that organizations can proactively block any attacks, and also prevent future attacks.

These networks include the threat sensors, cooperative competitors, CERTs (Community Emergency Response Team), MITRE (a non-profit organization that manages federally funded research development centers that support multiple U.S. government agencies) and also other internationals sources.

Fortiguard Web Filtering is also the only web filtering service in the industry that is VBWeb (Virus Bulletin Basic Web) certified for its security effectiveness. It has stopped 98.6 percent of malware served through all tested methods in Virus Bulletin’s 2017 Visual Basic Web security and it has blocked 97.8 percent of direct malware.

Virus Bulletin says that Fortinet is the only vendor who results they share in the 2017 BVWeb public tests because of how adequate it is. FortiGuard Antispam administers a multi-layered and extensive approach to how they detect and filter spam that is processed by organizations. This occurs with dual-pass detection technology that can productively lessen spam volume at the perimeter, which gives users incomparable control of infections and attacks.

FortiGate Next Generation Firewall and FortiWifi not only harness purpose-built security processors, but also hazardous intelligence security services from FortiGuard labs to administer the most excellent protection and high performance (that includes encrypted movement). In order to provide the best security practices, FortiGate reduces the complexity of automated perceptibility. Furthermore, FortiClient endpoint agents are able to block spam messages on mobile devices and remote computers.

Fortinet is the fourth-largest network security company by revenue. It was founded in 2000 by brothers Ken and Michael Xie in Sunnyvale, California. By 2004, the company raised about $93 million in funding, but didn’t go public until November 2009 where they raised $156 million through an initial public offering or stock market launch.

Fortinet diversified its products lines by adding products for messaging security, sandboxing, and also wireless access points as the 2000s continued. Before launching Fortinet, the two brothers had worked at NetScreen (an IT security company) and ServGate in executive positions. Fortinet was originally named Appligation Incorporation, then was renamed to Appsecure in December 2000, and later renamed once again to it’s current name based on “Fortified Networks.”

Before they introduced their first product in 2002, Fortinet spent about two years in research and development. From 2000 to early 2003, Fortinet has raised $13 million in private funding. They then raised an additional $30 million in August 2003, which was followed by $50 million in March 2004, finally reaching a total of $93 million in funding.