Why Speed and Duplex Matters

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The most common implementation of a Lightspeed Systems Rocket Web Filter is to place the appliance between the firewall and the core switch with the external interface connected to the firewall and the internal interface connected to the core switch. Because the Rocket operates as a Layer 2 transparent bridge you should think about it as a specialized wire connecting your firewall to your switch.

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Update on Google Encrypted Services

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Note: The original post has been modified to reflect the latest information and status from our conversations with Google.

Disclaimer: this is a long post, but filtering and accessing Google services is a top concern for our customers, so I wanted to explain things clearly and in detail.

Google is actively moving all of its services to being delivered over a fully encrypted (https) connection. Many of these services have been encrypted for some time and we have made it a priority to work with Google to help them move these services to encrypted connections in a way that allows schools the effective web filtering they need. While we work with Google to create these solutions, we have added features to the Web Filter to work around the issue. One example of this is the failsafe feature that is an option in our Web Filter policies.

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Mobile Manager Webinar Replay & FAQ

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Yesterday we hosted a Mobile Manager webinar that provided information on the benefits of Mobile Manager, the new features in v3 (like Managed Distribution, Device Enrollment Program, and Smart Groups), and migration from v1 to v3. We had more than 500 people register, and before and during the webinar hundreds of questions came in. Thank you all for your participation!

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Student privacy with online educational solutions

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Recently PTAC (Privacy Technical Assistance Center, U.S. Department of Education) released a new publication, Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices. You can get the full publication here.

FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protects personally identifiable information (PII) from student records from unauthorized disclosure. But with new technologies and services, those guidelines have a lot of exceptions and nuances; this new report aims to clear up confusion and provide updated guidelines in the face of new tools. The report shares advice and information to help schools protect student privacy while using software, apps, and web-based tools.

Lightspeed Systems solutions (including My Big Campus, Mobile Manager, and our Web Filter) are such technologies, classified by PTAC as Online Educational Services. We stay on top of these issues, and the new report doesn’t require any changes in our policies. We are, and always will be, committed to protecting student privacy and data and complying with all regulations when schools use our solutions.

Because of the variety of services and the wide range of district needs and circumstances, the report offers “It depends” as the answer to both “Is student information used in Online Educational Services protected by FERPA” and “What does FERPA require if PII from students’ education records is disclosed to a provider.” That answer, “it depends,” requires districts to have policies in place and overall knowledge of services being used in order to make an informed decision about which way the “it depends” goes.

Some good advice provided in the report includes:
Be aware of which online educational services are currently used in your district
Have policies and procedures to evaluate and approve online educational services

While it is necessary to collect some information to effectively provide our learning solutions, we go to great ends to protect students and to treat their data with care:

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Web Filtering with a Dynamic Education-Focused Database

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Today’s internet is a media-rich dynamic environment. High speed connections available anytime and anywhere have become the norm and end users expect performance when browsing the web. Technologies that attempt to scan in realtime the contents of a webpage at best introduce latency and at worst can break the functionality on a website. We have taken a different approach to this problem so that schools can maintain the security that they need without compromising performance.

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Tackling the Issue of Google Encrypted Search

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As a former district Technology Director, I understand the struggle between keeping students safe and monitored online, while still providing access to important educational tools. This is actually the mission of Lightspeed Systems—to equip schools with the tools necessary to create safe, collaborative, and mobile learning programs.

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