First, let’s look at the major changes.
Flexibility. It’s what you want, so here it is. Our users have praised how easily customized our products are – but we try to exceed expectations. We’ve added functionality to support two new requests: the “subject access request”, and the “right to be forgotten”.
The subject access request tool is available in the reporting system, under the “System” heading – it’s called “extract personal data”. It’s up to you to add all the identifiers someone might have been called by (so we suggest their AD username and their email should both be entered). This will then download a zip file you can pass to a user who’s asked for their own data.
Our other new addition supports “right to be forgotten”. This allows you to delete a user’s data, permanently. Deleting data is a very expensive operation – particularly for web filtering, as the logs were never designed to be tampered with. As a result, it will require a database rebuild (triggered automatically), this should be used with caution, and preferably with the help of a trained Smoothwall technician. For this reason the tools aren’t in the GUI, but can be accessed via a secure shell connection.
In addition to helping with data protection tasks, we’ve also improved security:
The second major new feature is support for HTTP 1.1. For a long time, the Guardian web filter has bounced connections down to HTTP 1.0 in order to filter them. This has meant that we lose some of the benefits of the more modern protocol, and some services, sites and apps need whitelisting, where you ideally would just let them pass through the policy as normal.
You should notice relatively little difference with the changes here – any improvements in page load speed are likely to be tricky to notice. The long term benefit though is less configuration and fewer exceptions – something we strive to achieve, though it isn’t always easy.
There’s a handful of other improvements in Leeds too – the IDex system now scales even better than before, and we support logging of DHCP events with the latest agent to improve accuracy. What’s not to like…?
Finally, let’s talk software releases. Going forward we’re going to try and make smaller improvements more frequently. In the past, we’ve stuck to big releases, which are more subject to delay, and hard to test. So expect smaller releases, available more frequently, and of better quality. Leeds-3, for example will contain a handful of fixes for long-standing issues, and a targeted performance update for Chromebook users.
Our specially developed technologies deliver real-time Dynamic Content Analysis™ of web pages, all without impacting on the users’ experience.