Websense: Site blocking at Colleges?

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Thomas M. Heaney, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. I work at a college that uses Websense to block and filter websites
    for reasons of security and bandwidth. Basically, this includes any
    multi-media sites or files (e.g. RealPlayer streams), any web-based
    email system, and just about anything that can remotely be defined as
    "entertainment." Faculty and students have complained, but the
    network administrators state that this is needed in order to protect
    the network.

    I contacted Websense to find out if they have any other colleges or
    universities as current customers, but the sales rep I spoke to
    admitted that he didn't know of any. From the research I've done, it
    looks like a few colleges used Websense in the late 1990s and as late
    as 2002 (mostly in the UK), but I can't find any colleges presently
    using it.

    Does anyone know of any public institutions of higher education that
    block categories of websites? Does anyone have any first-hand
    experience of this at their college?

    Thanks,
    (Take out the numbers for my valid email
    address.)
    Thomas M. Heaney, Oct 12, 2004
    #1
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  2. "Thomas M. Heaney" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I work at a college that uses Websense to block and filter websites
    > for reasons of security and bandwidth. Basically, this includes any
    > multi-media sites or files (e.g. RealPlayer streams), any web-based
    > email system, and just about anything that can remotely be defined as
    > "entertainment." Faculty and students have complained, but the
    > network administrators state that this is needed in order to protect
    > the network.
    >
    > I contacted Websense to find out if they have any other colleges or
    > universities as current customers, but the sales rep I spoke to
    > admitted that he didn't know of any. From the research I've done, it
    > looks like a few colleges used Websense in the late 1990s and as late
    > as 2002 (mostly in the UK), but I can't find any colleges presently
    > using it.
    >
    > Does anyone know of any public institutions of higher education that
    > block categories of websites? Does anyone have any first-hand
    > experience of this at their college?
    >
    > Thanks,
    > (Take out the numbers for my valid email
    > address.)


    I'm not aware of any colleges that are filtering their web traffic - it's
    usually the opposite case, they leave their networks wide open.

    Has your college considered using an alternative to websense? We use St.
    Bernard iPrism and it works greats for a hub&spoke WAN configuration. For
    your college, if they are really concerned about security without hindering
    convenience to staff and students, they could go with BlueCoat. BlueCoat
    merged with Ositis awhile back, and the combined solution now is a proxy
    caching security appliance (which helps save on bandwidth and reduces
    latency) and antivirus gateway. It will do any web filtering and tracking
    they need, while also scanning all files for viruses/trojans - coming
    through the common ports (http, ftp, smtp, pop3, irc, etc.).

    It sounds like your college's filtering policy includes more than security
    concerns. If they're blocking realplayer streams, then they're trying to
    cut back on bandwidth usage, which is another nice thing about using proxy
    caching.

    Rick
    Richard S. Westmoreland, Oct 12, 2004
    #2
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  3. Thomas M. Heaney

    johns Guest

    I do it here ( without elaborating on where is here ), but
    I only do it for specific labs where vandalism was so
    high that the labs were effectively useless. What I did
    eventually generated a request from department heads
    to do it in grad student offices too ... where they were
    finally fed up with ITS shutting off ports daily due to
    virus traffic and systems not being updated. Rather than
    block millions of sites, I use an "allow list" created by
    setting up a dummy proxy in IE, and listing exceptions.
    On top of that, I use gpedit to prevent desktop vandalism.
    And then we run f-secure AV and firewall which allows
    us to push rules to the desktops. Finally, backing up
    all this is disk imaging. If a smarty figures out how to
    vandalize, I re-image right over his homework. What
    is interesting is once all of this was in place, and our lab
    systems became stable and reliable so a student could
    get a job done, the students stopped complaining totally.
    I never hear a word about it anymore. For unrestricted
    web access .. which is needed a little bit ... we have
    PCs located at stand up stations in full view of everyone.
    I only have to clean them up about once a month .. or
    I can even ignore them with a big "I told you so!"
    Grad students are mostly sacked ... GAIN, Gator, AIM,
    Bargain Buddy, ... what a joke. I wonder what the
    Chinese are doing with all those VISA numbers ??

    johns
    johns, Oct 13, 2004
    #3
  4. Thomas M. Heaney

    David Shaw Guest

    Websense can be defeated rather easily, by simply using an http proxy.
    As far as desktop vandalism, it might be easier to use a program such
    as Deep Freeze, and simply have network folders that allow students to
    save their files to a network drive, although your current way works
    as well.

    -ds
    David Shaw, Oct 17, 2004
    #4
  5. Thomas M. Heaney <> wrote:

    > I work at a college that uses Websense to block and filter websites
    > for reasons of security and bandwidth. Basically, this includes any
    > multi-media sites or files (e.g. RealPlayer streams), any web-based
    > email system, and just about anything that can remotely be defined as
    > "entertainment." Faculty and students have complained, but the
    > network administrators state that this is needed in order to protect
    > the network.
    >
    > I contacted Websense to find out if they have any other colleges or
    > universities as current customers, but the sales rep I spoke to
    > admitted that he didn't know of any. From the research I've done, it
    > looks like a few colleges used Websense in the late 1990s and as late
    > as 2002 (mostly in the UK), but I can't find any colleges presently
    > using it.
    >
    > Does anyone know of any public institutions of higher education that
    > block categories of websites? Does anyone have any first-hand
    > experience of this at their college?
    >
    > Thanks,
    > (Take out the numbers for my valid email
    > address.)


    the collage i go to blocks porn sites etc, and think a few sercuirty
    ones, ie ones that allow scanning of ports and such, they mostly rely on
    blocking ports as far as i can see, ie you can surf but not get e mail
    use ftp etc....this means most IM don't work though MSN does.

    roger
    Roger Merriman, Oct 18, 2004
    #5
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