Great Neck Public Schools
Internet Filtering History

It has been the policy of the Great Neck Public Schools to filter Internet access since the inception of Internet connectivity to the district in 1996. Initially, when our first T-1 line was installed into South Middle School, filtering services were outsourced to our Internet provider, LI Net, who bundled a free Bess proxy server filtering solution with Internet access. This system was managed by LI Net, shared by other LI Net education customers, and customizable to a certain extent. The district continued to use this system for four years during which time LI Net was purchased by Verio.

After a period of time, we became aware of a progressive degradation of performance in our Internet connectivity even as our networking infrastructure was built out and our Internet bandwidth was increased. After significant troubleshooting and research, we discovered that Verio had oversold their Bess proxy server solution and had neglected to upgrade the equipment running the system. This resulted in an overloaded filtering system that could not meet the demands being placed on it. Unfortunately, Verio was unwilling to upgrade the system or offer an interim alternative. It became obvious that an in-house filtering system would be necessary to achieve optimal performance to support expanded Internet access in classrooms, so the district purchased and deployed the Bess filtering system using in-house servers.

Over the years, the company that produced Bess, N2H2, was purchased by Secure Computing and several years later, Secure Computing was purchased by McAfee, who combined the product with their own filtering solution, called WebWasher, which ran on its own appliance. Webwasher morphed into the current McAfee Web Gateway product. The district currently uses the latest version of McAfee Web Gateway running on our own virtual servers. The sophistication of our current system enables us to have a much greater degree of granularity with regard to Web site access, allowing us to differentiate filtering for different groups of users, implement different filtering rules at different times of the day, enable bypass accounts, force Google's SafeSearch filter to our setting of choice, and create sophisticated filtering rules that customize the filter to our standards.