NETWORK STATUS : There are no known faults on our network.
The Web content filtering service is designed to control access to web sites and other Internet content including Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and Instant Messaging (IM).
This service is carried out in our network. A school’s Internet traffic is routed through to our network by either a direct Internet connection to Watchdog’s ISP service (by routing traffic through the Internet to our external proxy servers) or by tunnelling the traffic from the customer’s network or ISP through to Watchdog over the Internet.
Because different Internet broadband providers have different network designs and policies, we have different ways of delivering our service as follows:
ISP Based filtering
Watchdog has installed equipment in numerous ISP’s around New Zealand. The benefit of this is that schools can be tunnel filtered through their ISP.
A preconfigured MoE funded firewall provided by Watchdog for schools that meet the criteria.
Watchdog’s proxy servers are high-performance, dedicated Linux servers that are set up on our network to accept web requests from schools via the Internet. These servers then request web sites through our network, thereby providing the schools with filtered access. There is no noticeable degradation of Internet access performance through this method.
Watchdog’s filtering solution is provided by an international leader in the industry and comprises a number of specialist servers that are supplied as complete filtering appliances designed for ISPs. These servers utilise a technology where web requests are inspected as they pass by the server and thus have no effect on network performance. These servers are rated at many times the capacity of our network.
Watchdog’s service is capable of filtering by:
- URL and IP addresses
- File type (MP3, MPEG, etc.)
- HTTP, HTTPS
- Newsgroups (NTTP)
- Search Engines
- TCP Port Blocking
Web filtering is effected by grouping web sites into categories that schools can choose to filter on. The filtering service has two key areas:
- Chosen web sites are blocked by IP address or URL (web address) and (optionally) keywords
- Search engines are filtered for keywords.
The blocking process is as follows:
- The website address or search engine word is entered into the browser.
- As the request passes by Watchdog’s filter the request is matched to the list of blocked sites or keywords.
- If a match is made then a blocking page is sent back to the browser.
- If a match is not made then the site (or keyword) is allowed so the request goes out to the site.
The effectiveness of list-based filtering is dependant on the quality of the list so, with thousands of new web sites every day, it is mandatory that the list be updated often. Watchdog’s list is updated daily and is currently one of the best in the industry containing millions of URLs.
The updates are sourced from a database that implements high-speed artificial intelligence to collect web sites on a 24/7 basis, employing Internet Analysts and Content Verifiers to individually verify and categorise each site. In addition, Watchdog’s logs of accessed sites are analysed daily for any sites that may have been accessed that have not been categorised and these are fed back to the central database. Utilising this methodology since 1995 has allowed the database to build to over 75 categories containing several million web sites from which Watchdog can filter.
Ability for schools to manually alter content lists
Watchdog’s Customised blocking feature allows schools to change the filtering to suit their individual requirements. Schools have the choice of managing this service themselves or calling the Watchdog helpdesk and changes will be made at no charge (as this service can be complex for some as it offers great flexibility).
Reporting on content filtering
CampusNet Web filtering reports are available on request from Watchdog and include the following information: date and time of web site access request, category of web site as per list, and URL or Web Address of requested site.