Web filtering can have a big impact on school broadband speeds. Here’s how
May 21, 2018 | Dennis Pierce

School broadband capacity is a top priority for edtech leaders—and the web filtering solution that you choose for your schools can make a big difference in how fast your network operates.

According to the Consortium for School Networking’s 2018 IT Leadership Survey, school broadband capacity tied with cybersecurity as the No. 1 priority of edtech leaders, and it’s easy to see why. In the same survey, 43% of school district IT leaders said at least half of the instructional materials they use are now in digital format. Slow network speeds can disrupt teaching and learning, frustrating both educators and students.

The web filtering solution you choose has important implications for school network speeds. Your web filter should be able to decrypt Secure Socket Layer (SSL) web traffic to protect students and staff from potentially harmful content while providing access to the resources they need for teaching and learning. But SSL content filtering can slow down school network speeds significantly if the solution is not well designed.

In fact, an analysis by NSS Labs found that decrypting and inspecting SSL traffic resulted in an average performance loss of 81% in the seven next-generation firewalls the company tested. 

SSL content filtering is critical for schools. Without it, you can’t have granular control over the specific web pages or features within YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites. You can only block or allow access to the top-level domain. That means you’d have to let students access all of YouTube, for example—or else block all YouTube videos altogether. SSL content filtering also allows for more detailed reporting, keyword search analysis, and greater protection from online threats, because the widespread use of SSL encryption has made it appealing for hackers to disguise their attacks within SSL-protected sessions.

But SSL content filtering also creates significant engineering challenges. Because the need to decrypt and re-encrypt web traffic adds more steps to the inspection process, SSL decryption typically slows down network speeds, often quite dramatically.

Before buying, test any web filtering solution you’re evaluating at full scale with SSL decryption turned on to see how this affects your school broadband capacity. You might be surprised at how widely this varies among products.

ContentKeeper’s Web Filtering Solution for schools has been engineered to handle SSL content filtering at multi-gigabit speeds with no noticeable network latency. In fact, this is a key differentiator for ContentKeeper.

To learn more about how ContentKeeper handles SSL content filtering without slowing down school network speeds, download the free white paper “Deploying Multi-Gig Web Filtering” from ContentKeeper’s Resource Center.

For more than 20 years, ContentKeeper has delivered comprehensive, accessible web security solutions for global enterprises, educational institutions and government agencies. We enable our customers to protect their networks, users and data from cyber threats while embracing mobile technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based services. 

About the author: The former editor of eSchool News, Dennis Pierce has 20 years of experience writing about education and technology.