New website filter system on campus
This year, Malone has changed website filters from Blue Coat WebFilter, which was 10 years old, to Palo Alto Networks for both cost and functionality reasons. Students may have noticed that websites that could be accessed last semester before fall break may not be accessible currently.
Palo Alto combines they’re tools into one. This includes a filter, a campus firewall and an intrusion and prevention system. This means that not only are dangerous sites blocked, but there is also protection for Malone’s digital files.
“The difference betwixt the two is that they use different libraries of sites that are blocked or not blocked,” said Adam Klemann, chief information officer. “The Blue Coat was 10 years old and could not handle the increase of traffic that we’ve seen. People are doing more and more web browsing for personal or academic use, so we upgraded the equipment because it was old, and it could not handle the amount of traffic that was currently bouncing through our network,” said Klemann.
Klemann also said that if people have trouble accessing content that they used to be able to, they should call IT and let them know. If a site absolutely must be accessed they can whitelist it or resubmit the page to the categorization team for Palo Alto so they can recategorize the website since sometimes the block is wrong.
The design of the filter is designed so that people will not accidentally access website content that they did not intend or want to see. The filter is not there to be overly controlling. Additionally, the network blocks spyware and malware, which can commonly be found on game cheat sites.
“If we do see that somebody is accessing pornography or gambling sites repeatedly, if we believe there to be an issue, we’ll let student development know, and they could work with the student if there’s an issue. There’s counselors on campus. People should know that there is help,” said Klemann.
Students have and have not noticed the change in filtering.
Lauren Schrock, junior communication arts major, has noticed the shift.
“I didn’t look at why they were blocked, but the main things that I found that were blocked were movie websites, especially on Netflix. I found that there were certain movies that Malone wouldn’t let me watch, but I was still allowed on Netflix,” said Schrock. “The other movie website that I found was blocked is called Putlocker. Friends and I used to go on and watch it, and they just recently blocked it. It’s kind of a bummer. It kind of downed our movie nights, but I’m assuming it’s because Malone thinks it’s a sketchy website. I respect Malone for their decisions, so I can’t complain too much.”
Some students haven’t noticed the change in web filtering.
Katlynn Feller, junior education and intervention specialist major, said “I haven’t noticed just because I’m a commuter and I do all my work at home, so I don’t have those blocks.”
Cathy Weyand is a staff writer for The Aviso.