Web Content Filtering

Introduction

In order to protect University of Suffolk users and data from websites that may host malicious, destructive and illegal content, or that may otherwise be in breach of the University communities various policies, we filter access to certain websites from campus PC's, Laptops and associated services such as the 'eduroam' and 'suffolkuni' WiFi services.

 

Why We Filter

We block malicious websites or provide warnings to addresses the following requirements:

  1. To support University Policies such as the Acceptable Use Policy.
  2. To support the policies of 3rd parties involved in providing IT Services to the University, such as the JISC Acceptable Use Policy
  3. In support our legal obligations, protect University assets and protect the reputation of the institution.
  4. Issues of due care towards our staff and students (by making sure, for example, that they are not inadvertently exposed to pornography or offensive material).

 

What We Filter

Different filtering policies apply depending on the service (for example, SuffolkUni, a public facing service used potentially by under 18’s, has more restrictive policies than ‘eduroam’ used by staff and academics). For a list of the current filtering groups, please contact the Academic Services team.

The web content filtering system works by grouping web site URL’s into broad categories (Adult, Dating, Extremism, Financial Services, Hacking, etc). IT Services plays no direct role in deciding how individual sites are categorised.

The categorisation of web sites is an externally maintained list provided by our Internet Firewall provider. The current updated list of categories can always be accessed via this link.

In general, the University provides 2 levels of response to categories that are filtered:

Warning Categories

Some categories will generate a content warning message, informing the user of the content category.

The user will be given the option to proceed at their own discretion, or return to the previous page they were viewing.

Blocked Categories

Where a user accesses a website in a category marked as ‘Block Access’, a message will be displayed informing the user that the website has been blocked and giving them the option to return to the previous page they were viewing.

 

Requesting Filter Changes

 

Incorrectly Categorised Content or Technical Problems

Any user may request that a site be re-categorised. i.e. This does not require IT Services involvement. Tests indicate that incorrectly categorised sites are amended within 24 hours. Web site URL’s can be tested via this link and subsequent pages allows you to report incorrectly categorised URL’s.

Technical Problems

IT Services maintains the web content filtering system on behalf of the University. If you experience technical difficulties with the service, please contact the IT Service Desk in the first instance.

General Policy queries

The Content Filtering policy is maintained by Academic Services. Please contact Chantalle Hawley in the first instance if you have any (non-technical) queries concerning the filtering policy.

Access to blocked/restricted content

Careful consideration has been given to ensure that we balance our responsibility to protect academic freedom and to safeguard students, staff. And the general public using our services As such, access to blocked sites for sensitive or security-sensitive research can be granted by making an application via the research ethics approval process.