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Chromebook Content Filtering for K12 Schools and Why it’s Essential

Posted by Trevagh Stankard on Mon, Apr 22nd, 2024

According to Google, Chromebooks are used by 50 million students and teachers every day. The accelerated use of these devices for K12 schools is phenomenal. Chromebooks bring several key advantages that can’t be found with traditional laptops. They’re internet-ready, more risk-averse to malware and other software threats, and easier to distribute and deploy for administrators. Their prevalent use in K12 schools is driven by several key benefits only found in a Chromebook device:

  • The price is right. Chromebooks are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional laptops or Apple tablets, making them easier to procure and distribute among schools with a limited budget. 
  • Chromebooks require minimal installation and configuration setup, so teachers and students don’t need excessive time or technical skills to begin working with them. The only skill necessary is familiarity with the Chrome browser; most people have experience with a standard web browser.
  • School technical support staff don’t have much overhead for deployments and maintenance. Software and storage are in the cloud, and Chromebook hardware is durable and made for travel. 

School districts worldwide are issuing Chromebooks to their students to help improve equity for underprivileged students unable to afford the necessary technology for advanced learning. Underprivileged students don’t always have access to basic internet, so having devices for homework and learning isn’t an option, leaving them behind in grades and future career options.  While there are many good reasons to deploy Chromebooks across students and teachers in any school district, it’s also good to remember that a Chromebook laptop is only a tool to help with grades and not a complete solution.  It’s a tool that children can use in various ways, but not all of them are productive. Teachers, too, can get access to technology to help students better, but open-access internet browsing can lead to inappropriate activity. If students and teachers connect to school network environments, it’s critical for cybersecurity to block inappropriate websites and web applications.

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Chromebooks are Internet Devices that Need Security Controls

While a Chromebook is technically a computing device, its primary purpose is to give the user access to something on the internet. That something could be an educational application or a game app. It could be a website hosting research information or inappropriate or offensive content. In any controlled environment, administrators are responsible for providing internet access to the right web applications and blocking inappropriate or disallowed content.

Providing Chromebooks with internet access isn’t a recipe for success if no cybersecurity is included to protect from malware and phishing. Context and content matter but blocking and allowing specific sites isn’t a feasible solution.  Enforcing content browsing is especially important for children. Other industries focus solely on the protection of their brand. Still, educational institutions for underage children have the unique responsibility of controlling access to inappropriate content but lack the ability to train them to identify red flags. Without access controls and web filtering, students can stay connected to game sites but seek out inappropriate content

According to two studies, the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Program for International Student Assessment, test scores went up for students who used the internet for a short or moderate time. A small amount of time was proven beneficial, but at a certain point, students experienced diminishing returns on their grade success. Test scores dramatically dropped for students who spent six or more hours a day on the internet.  At some point, researchers observed a ceiling in which more internet activity didn’t translate into better academic performance. Too much internet activity could hurt student success and reduce motivation and studies.

Researchers observed a stark negative impact as more students had open internet access.  While some parents assume that their students spent six hours on their studies, the actual observed results aren't.  Although the internet can be a wealth of learning opportunities, it can also cause numerous distractions to students. 

Another issue for K12 schools is the responsibility of CIPA compliance for K12 institutions. School districts depend on CIPA compliance for their e-rate funding.  CIPA requires districts to have an internet safety policy that blocks and filters inappropriate images and content deemed harmful to minors. Secure web browsing is necessary for school districts that offer Chromebooks to students and teachers at any scale. For compliance and safety of students, Chromebook web filtering is a requirement.

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Internet Devices for Children Need Internet Filtering

Chromebooks are similar to standard laptops—they are shaped like a standard laptop, have a CPU and a small amount of storage and memory to run applications, and are vulnerable to malware and malicious web content. While traditional .exe files can’t run on a Chromebook, the devices are vulnerable to Android malware and other threats that don’t depend on computer hardware (e.g., phishing, or credential theft).

Because Chromebooks are designed to work in the cloud with continual web access, the internet is the primary attack vector for malware and other types of Android-based malicious code. Phishing, social engineering, credential theft, and other types of attacks focused on human error are also primary threats to Chromebook users. Chromebooks work with Google accounts, so any threats targeting Google account users, including Gmail access, are also threats for Chromebook users.

While content filtering is a big part of ensuring a safe internet experience, the security of the organization’s digital environment is also a priority, which is why next-generation internet filtering plays a critical role in any multi-level cybersecurity strategy.  Any filtering solution you implement on the network must be able to block common web-based threats. Chromebooks reduce the risks of some malware threats but don’t eliminate the risk of a compromise. Children are highly vulnerable to web-based threats, so your solution should remove the human element as much as possible and offer a low false negative rating.


WebTitan On-The-Go for Chromebook Web Filtering

In an effort to help educational institutions meet compliance demands for content filtering and security protection, TitanHQ has released WebTitan on-the go for Chromebooks. Customers receive the same level of Chromebook security and web content filtering as Microsoft Windows 10 workstations. Administrators for Chromebook technology get the same configuration options and features available for their Windows workstations, so they are familiar with the web filtering solution without the learning curve.

In the same way that districts are attracted to Chromebooks for their ease of setup and configurations, many WebTitan customers are drawn to the simplicity of the WebTitan Cloud management interface.  Its web-based management console makes it easy for school administrators to set up content filters and deploy them across the entire network environment. TitanHQ also has support people ready to help administrators should they run into troubles during deployment and configurations. 

WebTitan supports small and large educational institutions. Small and rural district administrators will appreciate that it doesn’t have a significant learning curve and doesn’t involve complex deployment procedures. Our customers report that it’s easy to set up and manage Chromebook filtering using WebTitan.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of WebTitan to see the best Chromebook Content Filtering for K12 Schools.

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WebTitan is Designed for Anywhere Learning

In 2020, most organizations were forced to allow employees to work from home.  Corporations found that a large percentage of employees can work anywhere and still stay productive. Cloud technology enabled employees to stay connected to corporate applications and run businesses without the need to be in the office. 

To stay productive while working from home, employees need access to the internet but shouldn’t have unfettered web browsing. Unfettered internet access has the same effect on employees as it does on students. Employees with open-ended access to the internet can spend an inordinate amount of time distracted from work-oriented applications. Organizations need web content filters to protect employee devices and the internal environment from malware and data breaches. 

Education organizations and school districts also saw changes in the ways students learn and study. During COVID lockdowns, school districts were forced to transfer to remote learning. Students could learn using virtualized classrooms, and teachers could deliver their lectures online. Virtual learning also requires a cloud-based environment available with an internet connection and remote device. Like corporations, schools deployed laptops to teachers and students but needed a way to block inappropriate web browsing.  WebTitan is designed for the “Anywhere Workforce” as well as “Anywhere Learning.”

Whether your students are operating their devices on campus within a traditional classroom or at a remote location in the comfort of their homes, they and their devices are protected by the same granular internet filtering policies as corporations protecting their environment from internet-distributed malware. WebTitan blocks malware and age-restricted sites inappropriate for children and teachers.

With WebTitan, parents have the assurance that their children can safely browse the internet without setting their parental controls. Web browsing filters encourage support from parents where school districts develop programs to deploy Chromebooks to all children in the classroom. School administrators control web browsing from a centralized dashboard; parents can still monitor their children’s internet usage.

When we say that WebTitan is designed for “anywhere learning,” we aren’t just talking about the filtering policy.  Our cloud-based solution allows internal IT to fully manage a school district’s web filtering system from anywhere worldwide, giving your admins the same tools and interface regardless of where they are working. Administrators also need internet access, but they can control web filtering from their homes or in the office. 

Onboarding thousands of students with their Chromebooks also requires massive administrative overhead. Most children are familiar with technology but might not be familiar with Chromebooks. Administrators can deploy settings with new Chromebooks, including those from WebTitan that control web browsing. WebTitan integrates directly with your network environment without many configuration requirements, making implementation convenient for administrators.

WebTitan developers built the product to keep the integration of web content filters convenient without complicating deployments of any remote devices, including Chromebooks. Rather than relying on on-premises or installed local client software, WebTitan redirects all DNS queries from remote devices to the WebTitan cloud system. WebTitan identifies the domain being queried and compares it to several blacklisting factors including administrator configurations. If the domain is blacklisted, the user is blocked, and a message is displayed telling the user that the domain is against content policies. 

All WebTitan activity takes place in the cloud, giving administrators a centralized location to configure browsing filters even if they, too, are working from home. WebTitan was one of the first companies to offer a total cloud-based web filtering solution. Because there is no additional client software installed, administrators don’t have the overhead of supporting a client application, malware bypassing restrictions, users disabling the software, or vulnerabilities in the client application. WebTitan works with DNS-based filters, so it works with HTTP or HTTPS traffic. 

Sign up for a FREE Demo of WebTitan to see the best Chromebook Content Filtering for K12 Schools.

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Create Different Groups and Policies for Varying Students

K12 students have a wide age range, so WebTitan supports groups for permission assignments. For example, elementary students might need to open a game site for online math and reading, but it can be blocked for middle school and high school. The administration may think that YouTube is inappropriate for elementary-aged children, but they can offer middle school and high school students reasonably limited access to it. 

While many schools opt to block social media sites from students, school principals, parent liaison coordinators, and other personnel need access to post news and events on social media. Internal IT needs wide-open access to technology sites, while students and staff need to be prevented from downloading tools and applications they shouldn’t be involved with. All these preferences and configurations are available in the WebTitan dashboard so that administrators can create groups with granular permissions based on the type of network account.

K12 institutions are likely the most difficult to create content filtering policies. WebTitan on-the-go is a Chromebook web filter designed to accommodate the most complex of environments using a three-step process:

  • Create your desired groups.
  • Create granular filtering policies to block various categories.
  • Assign policies to your groups.

Administrators can also override policies with manually created exceptions.  With WebTitan’s Chromebook web filtering, administrators and parents can ensure that every student is allotted the appropriate internet access. 


Reporting for Stakeholders and Administrators

At some point, a concerned teacher or parent might issue a request to know what sites one of their students or children has been accessing.  Administrators can then open WebTitan reports and get a list of sites accessed by the student account. WebTitan’s reporting feature can pull up a student’s internet history and summarize it for all concerned parties.  

Administrators and IT personnel can also discover broad behavior patterns concerning student internet usage at the system and group level. WebTitan makes discovery into internet browsing habits more convenient for all stakeholders, parents, and school faculty to separate good learning sites from inappropriate websites. Any new sites registered and found inappropriate for children can be blocked. WebTitan developers continually update the cloud-based software.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of WebTitan to see the best Chromebook Content Filtering for K12 Schools.

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Advanced Security for Safety and Risk Management

Content filtering and reporting don’t matter if a district network environment suffers downtime from a malware event. Downloaded malware or ransomware cripples network activity, but WebTitan’s malicious detection service monitors and identifies threats in real-time with the aid of artificial intelligence protection.  WebTitan’s artificial intelligence technology stops browsing to phishing URLs and even zero-day threats never seen in the wild. 

WebTitan has been a go-to technology for education and corporate organizations for years, so it’s a proven, well-rated system with a long-term history of protecting computer devices. Educational administrators can be sure that WebTitan has the features and the technology to secure the internet experience for Chromebook users.


Integration of WebTitan Protects Students and Your Education Environment

Chromebooks may be a new technology standard in educational institutions, but WebTitan is still viable for network security and user protection. WebTitan may be new to Chromebook protection, but it’s not new to school internet filtering and security. TitanHQ is dedicated to taking our highly successful web filtering architecture and making it a beneficial tool for administrators to secure user Chromebook activity, especially children. While we cater to many businesses and managed service providers, we are also heavily partnered with K12 institutions across the globe to help with the evolving cybersecurity landscape. 

Let us show you how WebTitan can enforce user protection and security while wrapping it all into a convenient package for school administrators to manage with WebTitan's Chromebook web filtering abilities. To get started with WebTitan, sign up for a 14-day free trial today.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of WebTitan to see the best Chromebook Content Filtering for K12 Schools.

Book Free Demo

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

The easiest and most efficient way to apply Chromebook content filtering is with a DNS filter with a remote roaming agent such as WebTitan Cloud. WebTitan offers safe internet browsing on Chromebooks for children, providing protection from harmful and obscene web content whether they are at school or at home.

Chromebook web filtering is essential for K12 schools looking to adhere to CIPA compliance to receive E-Rate funding. In order to receive funding, schools must be CIPA Complaint. WebTitan Cloud creates a safe and secure environment for K12 students, blocking inappropriate & obscene content while supporting the schools CIPA Compliance.

TitanHQ has over 20 years of experiences providing schools with advanced email anti-spam and web filtering solutions. WebTitan Cloud is provides protection from harmful and obscene web content whether K12 students are studying at school or at home. WebTitan Cloud strengthens schools CIPA Compliance to help secure E-Rate funding.

Applying K12 content filtering is very straightforward and easy with WebTitan Cloud, a multi-award winning content filtering solution used by schools and colleges all around the world. WebTitan Cloud has 20+ years of experience in protecting K12 students and has 24/7 support. Get setup and start filtering in <1 hour.

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