Two of the UK’s leading suppliers of e-safety, Westcoastcloud and Forensic Software, have partnered up to offer the most comprehensive online child protection solution yet to the education sector.
The all-in-one cloud service ‘Netintelligence powered by Forensic Software,’ offers schools and local authorities a truly integrated e-safety solution that includes real time monitoring, web filtering, blocking and policy enforcement which is backed by the UK’s only Kitemark for Child Online Safety PAS 74. Until now, no single solution has been available to be used across multiple internet-connected devices.
The solution will provide educational establishments with a complete e-safety tool kit to combat the threats of cyber bullying, harassment and grooming as well as sites containing inappropriate content such as the promotion of suicide, self-harm and pornography.
This new partnership between Westcoastcloud and Forensic Software has been welcomed by the child psychologist, author, newspaper columnist and TV presenter, Professor Tanya Byron (PhD, PsychD, MSc, BSc) who led a government review into the risks to children of accessing inappropriate material on the internet.
Professor Byron said: "I welcome this approach by e-safety technology companies combining their resources to provide a far more reaching safety net for children and those who have a duty of care to them. It’s reassuring that the recommendations made in my previous review and the more recent recommendations of the Bailey Review about protecting children online are being taken on board by companies to help deliver the safest possible environments for children and families.
The fact that this solution is supported by Netintelligence’s award of the BSI Kitemark PAS 74 is important. However there is a still a long way to go as we still only have one company that has achieved the official standard."
The new partnership between the two companies is being launched with the combination of their leading e-safety solutions: Westcoastcloud’s ‘Netintelligence Enterprise Manager’ and Forensic Software’s ‘Policy Central Enterprise’. Netintelligence Enterprise Manager provides filtering and blocking of harmful and inappropriate material via one central control panel across multiple internet-connected devices such as desktop PCs, laptops and more recently iPads. Policy Central Enterprise provides the additional capability of being able to monitor and report when children do or access something inappropriate whilst using applications such as Microsoft Office and email, as well as online activity. The software takes a screen capture of what they have attempted to do or have been inadvertently exposed to, providing an important audit trail which can be acted upon.
Bill Strain, director of Westcoastcloud, said: "This is a great step forward for the provision of online safety tools to the education market. Delivering internet protection in an educational environment can be a real challenge. Increasingly the campus is being extended beyond traditional boundaries. Policies need to provide appropriate protection for diverse groups ranging from very young children to teachers, staff and even parents. Each of these groups can have very different needs and priorities. The combination of our two sets of controls, will give schools greater peace of mind when trying to protect and regulate the behaviour of pupils online."
Ellie Puddle, managing director of Forensic Software, said: "Schools don’t always realise that their pupils can be at risk from the likes of cyber bullying and other harmful influences on what look like perfectly acceptable sites which they haven’t blocked. Adding our monitoring capabilities to the filtering and blocking ability of Netintelligence will enable teachers and policy makers to be in total control of modifying behaviour and allow them to react better when problems do occur.
The ability to monitor as well as filter can allow schools to open up access to otherwise blocked sites, such as Facebook and YouTube which, when used appropriately, are wonderful learning resources for pupils. All of this new technology is truly ground breaking and very exciting, however without the appropriate controls in place children are being put at considerable risk."
As the solution is not tied to a specific network or gateway it can provide protection to all devices regardless of their physical location even if they are on the move. The creation and management of policies is achieved using a simple web interface. These policies can be tailored to specific groups or individuals with updates immediately available to all machines and users that are being protected via the cloud.
Until now Netintelligence Enterprise Manager and Policy Central Enterprise have been used separately and very successfully by thousands of schools and scores of local authorities to protect children in their care. Netintelligence was the e-safety software of choice for the government’s Home Access project and currently helps protect hundreds of thousands of children online both at school and at home. Policy Central Enterprise is used by local authorities including Birmingham, Warwickshire, Northumberland and Telford and Wrekin to help protect over 2 million children online.
Westcoastcloud director Bill Strain concluded: "Bringing these two products together will also give schools a more cost effective option when they are looking at what’s available in the child internet safety market."
Westcoastcloud is a subsidiary of iomart Group plc, which was named Scottish Digital IT Company of the Year 2011 and ranked as one of the top 25 cloud services providers in the world.
Forensic Software has been established for eight years and specialises in developing, selling and supporting detection and protection software to ensure the appropriate use of IT resources by a community – whether it be within a commercial, public sector, educational or home environment.