http://www.harktheherald.com/article.php?sid=69655&mode=thread&order=0 AMY K. STEWART The Daily Herald January 01, 2003 SPANISH FORK -- Computer hackers tried to break into the Nebo School District's computer network 638 times on Dec. 1. A test of Nebo's system that day by technology officials from the Utah Education Network turned up that many attempted invasions, according to district program analyst Ron Andrews. The hackers could be anywhere in the world, looking to access the district's network to find empty file space to illegally store data, such as child pornography where they can access it but it can't be traced back to them. Or they could be trying to take control of another computer in order to use it as a launching point to attack other computers. The hackers can even vandalize a computer, such as erase a hard drive. "You view vandalism as someone coming in with a can of spray paint and writing on your wall. But what difference is there between that and this?" Andrews said. These attempts at computer vandalism prompted the district to upgrade its computer security software recently, protecting the district's computer files from predators as well as keeping students and teachers from accessing questionable Internet sites. Dale Bills, district technical services supervisor, recently worked with Andrews for a week to implement the security measures, including setting up $3,000 of filtering software, which was an upgrade from the previous filtering system. They think the investment will save the district time and money. "It's protecting our computers, which saves our users grief and which saves the technicians time because they don't have to go fix what a hacker breaks because the hacker can't get to the equipment," Bills said. He said the district investigated several content filtering options looking for one that would meet the challenging needs of the school environment, and the district is happy with the decision. "We worked with Utah Education Network, which has done a lot of testing with different filtering packages. They and we both feel the filtering software we have chosen is the best available," Bills said. "From the testing, the software appears to have the most complete 'black list,' so to speak, and an excellent process to keep their list current." The district's filter also blocks users from certain categories on the Internet. For example, if a district employee or student tries to access an adult, sex-oriented Web site, a stop-sign page shows up on the screen that reads: "The site you requested is blocked under your organization's filtering policy. It fits into the following filtering category(ies) that your organization has chosen to block: Adults Only, Pornography." In order to keep students off of potentially offensive sites, Nebo District has listed the following types of Web sites as forbidden: adults only, alcohol, drugs, chat, gambling, free mail, hate/discrimination, illegal, lingerie, message bulletin, murder/suicide, personals, pornography, profanity, school cheating, search topics, sex, swimsuits, tasteless/gross, tobacco and weapons. Categories that are considered OK include: auction, employment search, free pages, games, jokes, search engines, stocks and recreation/entertainment. One of the issues with filtering Web content for educational purposes is that sometimes the filters are overly broad and block sites that might be considered legitimate for educational purposes, such as medical sites dealing with breast cancer. But Bills said students can do research on medical topics that may be red-flagged under the district's filter by accessing the Utah Education Network Web site, which opens up a portal to scientific journals at the University of Utah. The filter also screens e-mail for objectionable content. If a certain word pops up in a district-sent e-mail, the message will be returned. The glitch in this filtering process is that sometimes a longer word may contain an obscene word, and therefore be targeted, resulting in an innocent e-mail being frozen. The district uses about 4,000 computers in its offices and classrooms, and almost all of them have Internet access. This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A5. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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