How to Block Websites for Your School Network

June 8, 2017/
/by Akins IT

When working in a school environment, it sometimes becomes necessary to block certain websites. (Read our case study for Western Christian Schools.) Explicit content, biased political commentary, suspicious sites: To shield staff, students and data, you may need to strengthen your network. This article will discuss four ways to block certain websites on your school’s network.

The simplest way to block a website on your school’s network is with a web monitoring program, which allows you to block individual addresses as well as groups of websites. These programs usually allow you to set up content blocks for access levels. So, for example, you could block more sites for students than for faculty, and perhaps leave an open level of access for administration on top of that.

The second way to block websites is a bit more complex and machine-based: installing a filtering program on each school computer. This is much more time-consuming and labor-intensive.  You will most likely need to purchase a license for your entire computer or negotiate to purchase a group of licenses for your school, which could become very expensive and taxing on your school’s budget.

A third method commonly used by businesses and organizations is OpenDNS. OpenDNS is installed onto your network's router and can control all the network’s traffic. It can be designed to block all access to certain websites contacted through the router. By installing the program, you can contain and control your network from one centralized point. The disadvantages here are that you can’t have differing levels of access. Instead, it gives a universal and generic blocking of sites that you specify.

The final way that you can block websites on campus is by editing the hosts file in Windows, allowing you to block websites from being accessed on that computer. It’s limiting in that it can only be specified for one computer at a time, but applies to all users on that computer. If you want to secure a computer in a teacher’s lounge and block sites for everyone who uses that machine, you can do so easily by altering the hosts file on Windows, but it doesn’t allow you to track who is using what and how long they are visiting websites. Also, if one of your staff is tech-savvy, they will be able to get around this. This is probably the least effective and manageable way to block websites for your entire school.

There is always an easier way to make your campus a safer place to get online: A way to work smarter, not harder.  That way is to simply contact our experienced team at Akins IT. We have years of network security experience and can easily evaluate your school environment to recommend and set up the right website blocking technology and whatever else you may need on your network.

Why stress over how to block websites and keep your campus environment safe and focused on the business of learning? Our expert team can do it easily for you.

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