Dover School District Dover, USA, North America
Dover Schools Safeguards Student Web Access with Cyberoam UTM+
About The Dover School District, Education

The Dover School District is situated in and around the city of Dover, New Hampshire; conveniently located within an hour's drive from Boston, MA & Portland, ME, and the White Mountains.

The Dover School District is the center of a dynamic community dedicated to developing individual potential and self-esteem through education. The schools are committed to creating a diverse learning environment, emphasizing collaboration and innovation. The schools develop lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

The mission of the Dover School District, in partnership with students, family, and community, is to ensure that each child has the opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential in an academically challenging, supportive, and safe environment.

The Dover School District offers its students and staff access to SchoolNET - the school district's information system. SchoolNET allows students, faculty and staff access to local network resources, as well as the Internet, and to communicate and collaborate with other individuals and groups around the world, significantly expanding their available information base.

We were looking for a solution to curb the External Proxy menace. Meeting the compliance requirements was also one of the most important requirements for us

Mr. Christopher Robergen
Manager Technical Support
Dover School District

It falls to the District‘s Division of Information Technology (DIT) to manage the computer, network and Internet resources across all five (5) school sites. The sites include:

1. Home Street School
2. Woodman Park School
3. Dover Middle School (DMS)
4. Dover High School
5. Garrison Elementary School

External Proxy Dilemma

DIT already had a group of SonicWALL Content Filtering appliances deployed which failed to curb the external proxy usage. Briefing about the dilemma, “We have a lot of these very technically oriented kids with a lot of time on their hands,” said Mr. Christopher Roberge, Technical Support Services Manager for the district‘s Division of Information Technology. “They are good, very good, and they were going everywhere and doing everything. Our biggest issue was the use of external proxy servers to access unauthorized content on the Internet. With SonicWALL, we were forced to block those sites individually when we learned about them; a completely ineffective way of dealing with a plethora of them. If one of these sites was blocked, others would surface. We were waging a losing war. Also, we had a lot of false positives - SonicWALL was blocking legitimate sites all the time,” he added.

Social Networking Menace

Talking about the social networking rage, Mr. Roberge said, “One of the latest trends is signing up to social networking sites. We recognize the importance of these sites to our students for personal and social use, yet unlimited access is an issue with the temptation for our students to go social networking rather than focus on academics.”

Compliance Clutter

The Web is an incredible tool and puts almost limitless resources at the disposal of students and teachers. But providing unbridled and un-audited access leads to some unique security challenges for school officials and administrators.

Along with the usual concerns over letting good content in and keeping bad content out, school systems like Dover School District must comply with federal regulations like CIPA (Children‘s Internet Protection Act), as well as other state and local statutes related to privacy, confidentiality, and student safety.

“We have extensive compliance requirements,” says Mr. Roberge. “As a K12 Public School District, it‘s vital that faculty, staff and students have access to the Internet as a research tool. However, CIPA compliance dictates that the Web access be safe and sanitized. Students aren‘t allowed to transfer any personal information. This issue affects browsing, chat, blogs, email, and any site with forms requiring personnel information.” To ensure funding from federal and state sources, the school system must follow the laws and regulations that are applicable.

The Cyberoam Solution

After careful consideration, Mr. Roberge decided to try out Cyberoam next-generation, identity-enabled UTM+ appliances in place of the SonicWALL appliances. The district replaced all SonicWALL appliances with three (3) Cyberoam CR100i and one (1) CR300i appliances; all deployed in bridge mode. While Home Street School, Woodman Park School and Garrison Elementary School have a CR100i each, Dover Middle School (DMS) has a CR300i UTM appliance. Dover High School is connected over fiber to DMS for Internet connectivity.

All the Cyberoam appliances are externally integrated with Active Directory for authentication. Single Sign-On is used to set Internet access policies based on users and groups.

“The improvement was dramatic,” said the smiling manager.

External Proxy - Reigned In

Cyberoam has a content filtering database of more than 44 million Websites, categorized cleanly in 82+ categories, providing extensive control over Internet usage. External Proxy, third-party tunneling and browsing applications which were being used to tunnel through the previous security solution for unrestricted browsing, are now history. All harmful and objectionable content accessed over the Internet is now blocked.

Controlled and Safe Browsing

All unauthorized downloads, P2P applications, pirated audio and video streaming and other harmful content is now safely blocked. Any phishing or pharming Website is disallowed to ensure that no personal information accidentally falls into the hands of criminals. The content filtering categories allow the school to create policies to block access to sites associated with spyware, phishing, key-logging, malicious mobile code and malware. All content access over HTTP, HTTPS and FTP over HTTP is controlled and sanitized. The Intrusion Prevention System module is used in conjunction with the Content Filter for Open Proxy and Application Management.

Inculcating Healthy Surfing Habits

Without curbing the healthy curiosity of young minds, Cyberoam allowed them to roam far and wide on the Internet. Additionally, Cyberoam allows customizable messages for its Web pages that it blocks. This helps the schools to educate the students about the Internet policy and helps inculcate safe surfing habits in them. Cyberoam also enforces “Google Safe Search” at the gateway level for students, so that students can only search Google using “Safe Search Mode” even if they change the setting on their desktops.

Judicious Bandwidth Management

As part of their filtering policy, the Dover School District uses Cyberoam's time-based quota feature. With the time-based quota option, organizations can set up policies for different users or groups to visit specific categories of sites for pre-set amounts of time.

"On categories where the quota option is enabled, we allow students pre-specified minutes per day to use the internet. We have different policies for different groups, in different schools,” said Mr. Roberge. The administrator can define the amount of bandwidth per category and hence bandwidth is judiciously managed.

Ease of Appliance Management

By taking advantage of the ability of Cyberoam to be easily managed via a Web browser, the Dover School District has dramatically improved productivity by extending its security policy management and administrator controls to additional IT staff members. “You can just login to any Cyberoam appliance GUI through a Web browser and manage the policies, categories, users, and other things. Because of that, I‘ve been able to delegate control and I can give responsibility to the IT administrators. That‘s been a very nice feature,” the manager said.

A Matter of Trust

Cyberoam‘s technical support team is also earning accolades. “The Cyberoam support guys have been phenomenal. They trained four (4) System Administrators including me. We were given basic understanding and Level 1 troubleshooting. This training was aimed to reduce technical dependency in the Cyberoam team,” Mr. Roberge said. “They‘ve never let me down. I‘ve worked with many different vendors where it was hard to get hold of anybody to get a question answered and find people to help us with our problem. It was very reassuring that I could just pick up the phone and call someone at Cyberoam to get help right away and get a problem resolved within a reasonable amount of time. Everyone I spoke with was knowledgeable and had an intelligent and satisfactory answer,” he said.

Advantage Identity

User-based authentication and granular control proved to be an unexpected bonus, as this was something the authorities did not consider initially, mainly because they tried to do it with SonicWALL earlier but never got it going and they thought it would be similar with Cyberoam. To the manager‘s pleasant surprise, user-based policy formation and control was configured in a jiffy.

To Round it Off

“This far, the Cyberoam devices have performed flawlessly. They are easy to set up and configure. The interface is intuitive, and they are extremely effective. At the customer service end, Cyberoam has been wonderful to work with. I would highly recommend to anyone that they check out Cyberoam for content filtering,” beamed Mr. Roberge.