What was the background?
Lake Hamilton School District is the largest in Garland County, Arkansas, with 4,300 students K – 12th grade on its enrollment. Justin Orrell, Network Administrator, manages the day-to-day running of web filtering, along with other networking and wireless technology.
Lake Hamilton is unique in that its six schools are located centrally on the same campus. Access to the internet is available to staff, students, and guests thru a 550MB centralized internet connection.
There are approximately 6,000 district-owned devices in circulation, including multiple Chromebook carts, iPads, laptops and desktops. Guest Wi-Fi is also available in various designated locations.
What was the problem?
Kids were doing Google searches that the current filtering solution wasn’t able to properly intercept. “Because of the encryption, the web filtering wasn’t able to intercept and filter image searches properly,” says Justin.
Additionally, the filtering on the old solution wasn’t granular enough because it was blocking legitimate educational resources in an attempt to keep bad stuff out. “Our previous web filter would lock down an entire category, and we would have to go in and manually add websites,” he says.
Another major issue for Justin was the inconsistency of running 3 different products for 3 separate functions: aggregation, filter and firewall. “It’s really hard to identify the problem when you’re going through three devices to get to the internet.”
How did Smoothwall help?
Lake Hamilton Technology Department chose Unified Threat Management to secure his network, and soon the problems with the filtering glitches when doing an HTTPS image search became a thing of the past. “Whatever method students invent for getting around the filtering, we know that Smoothwall has us covered.”
The issues with overblocking caused by their previous web filter’s lack of granularity were also resolved with Unified Threat Management content-aware technology, and highly accurate content categorization. “Smoothwall sifts the good, the bad and the ugly web content, only letting thru legitimate educational resources.”
Consolidating the web security functionality has also made troubleshooting easier. “I really like that if I have an issue with anything internet related whether it be a connection issue, firewall, or any content blocking thing, it’s all under one umbrella.”
Justin says that another benefit of switching to Unified Threat Management is having better visibility over the network. “Now we can see what’s really happening and identify potential bottleneck issues ahead of time.”
Enterprising and forward-thinking, the technology department needed to equip the school with reliable and future-proof technology. Justin is confident that Smoothwall is that solution. “Switching to Smoothwall has been a genuinely positive move.”
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