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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Smoothwall - monitoring Hotmail content in Technical; Long story short, I'm a teacher (puts tin hat on), not very technical (more of a web design woman), who's ...
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    Smoothwall - monitoring Hotmail content

    Long story short, I'm a teacher (puts tin hat on), not very technical (more of a web design woman), who's ended up as quite a large stakeholder on the ICT committee in a smallish independent school in the North West (with little money, hence them letting me have a big say in things even though I'm only 3 years out of uni - eek).

    So, the committe are looking at implementing Smoothwall Guardian maybe at the start of the next calendar year, but I'd like to clear up a couple of questions before I give my 'yes' vote.

    Unbelievably, our pupils' email accounts are with... HOTMAIL. Senior management aren't letting us change this as it would create 'too much confusion' (I've just been involved in manually registering 102 Hotmail accounts for next month's new intake).

    This obviously means that we don't want to block Hotmail completely, but we want to monitor what pupils do on their personal accounts. When they login to their Hotmail, will Smoothwall be able to 'capture' their emails for us to see, or just block those pages which it deems unsuitable. It's all in our user agreement that we will monitor personal emails, but the only way we can do this at the moment us to watch them 'live' on our monitoring software.

    I noticed in the manual that if you mouseover a URL in a report, the 'advanced interpreter' will show you some more information about the page. In their example, the YouTube video title, a thubnail etc. What would I see if I mouseovered a hotmail URL? Would I be able to see email addresses, email content etc? Cyberbullying is becimg one of SMT's biggest concerns and being able to trackit this way would be perfect.

    Sorry for being such a newb, but would appreciated any responses.

    Thanks.

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    robk's Avatar
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    Not entirely sure if smoothwall can do this, I would be suggesting moving away from hotmail myself.

    However, have you thought of a smoothwall trial? I am sure they would let you test this out, and once you see everything else it does, you are very likely to want the product.

    Probably worth contacting smoothwall sales with the question, they will get back to you I am sure.

    (either that or Tom or a more knowlagable smoothwall user will be along here shortly.

    RobK

    (A happy smoothwall user )

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    tom_newton (28th August 2009)

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Its a tricky one this. Right now, you don't get much "knowledge" of hotmail emails - it is hard to do so, because all the pages are encrypted and password protected.

    Because that page is unique to the session the pupil was using, you can't, after the fact, go back (say using reporting) and see what they were doing.

    We are introducing "post monitoring" in october, which will allow you to block pupils sending certain words. This does store the data if the attempted upload was blocked.

    Storing all the data would use too many resources on the smoothwall system, so right now we are limiting it to outgoing data that has been filtered.

    You are right, though - the way to go is to migrate away from hotmail.

    In the meantime we will try and help with forensics as much as possible.

    Tom

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    you can use Securus. This will monitor keybaord strokes on the computers and text appearing on the screen and takes a screenshot. It will pickup anyone doing naything they shouldnt on e-mail.

    Securus | Stop cyberbullying with e-safety software for schools

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    PEO (29th August 2009)

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    Thanks for your quick responses!

    I've tried and tried to move us away from Hotmail, believe me, but SMT fail to be convinced.

    Thanks for the Securus recommendation, although I'm wary about keylogging. We do want to give the pupils privacy in terms of passwords, even if we do want to monitor personal emails during term time.

    Tom - I didn't think that encrypted pages were a problem for Smoothwall since the March update? I can see what you're saying about sessions though - I presume things like the 'advanced interpreter' work on just following the parameters in the URL rather than storing information on the system?

    Thanks again for the quick responses, and sorry for any lame spellings - I'm posting from my iPhone.

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ant3 View Post
    Thanks for your quick responses!

    I've tried and tried to move us away from Hotmail, believe me, but SMT fail to be convinced.

    Thanks for the Securus recommendation, although I'm wary about keylogging. We do want to give the pupils privacy in terms of passwords, even if we do want to monitor personal emails during term time.

    Tom - I didn't think that encrypted pages were a problem for Smoothwall since the March update? I can see what you're saying about sessions though - I presume things like the 'advanced interpreter' work on just following the parameters in the URL rather than storing information on the system?

    Thanks again for the quick responses, and sorry for any lame spellings - I'm posting from my iPhone.
    It doesnt pickup passwords.

    You can also set it to not log certain users such as staff. It also has an image analyzer to pickup porn images.

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ant3 View Post
    Thanks for your quick responses!

    I've tried and tried to move us away from Hotmail, believe me, but SMT fail to be convinced.

    Thanks for the Securus recommendation, although I'm wary about keylogging. We do want to give the pupils privacy in terms of passwords, even if we do want to monitor personal emails during term time.

    Tom - I didn't think that encrypted pages were a problem for Smoothwall since the March update? I can see what you're saying about sessions though - I presume things like the 'advanced interpreter' work on just following the parameters in the URL rather than storing information on the system?

    Thanks again for the quick responses, and sorry for any lame spellings - I'm posting from my iPhone.
    You're right - encrypted pages will still be scanned. So anything that contains banned content will still be blocked.

    The advanced interpreter uses URL patterns, yes - it will also use clientside requests to grab further information if it can though (like youtube videos etc.).

    Can also recommend securus - we have worked with them a number of times, as the two products are quite a good fit together (one at the gw, one client side).

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    Not that this answers your question directly, but Microsoft have a free service (that lets you monitor the content of student email) - this is Live@edu and uses either Hotmail or Outlook Live to provide the email system (so exactly the same features as either) but with the bonus of an admin interface for you to use as well.

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    The use of Zimbra with bad word filtering is another option.

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylv3r View Post
    The use of Zimbra with bad word filtering is another option.
    Not really, when he has said a few times they are sticking with hotmail

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    Not really, when he has said a few times they are sticking with hotmail
    I suppose, but the creating too much confusion scrapping Hotmail - I don't get. Using something such as zimbra with AD integration would make live much easier not harder.

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