Content Filtering FAQs

FAQ Index


    What is filtering?

    • Filtering is the process of restricting users from accessing inappropriate Internet sites while allowing access to desired sites.

    Why do I need filtering?

    • Filtering is not required for participation in the ICN. The ICN is providing filtering as a service to those constituents who desire it.
    • Filtering can be implemented to prevent under age users from accessing inappropriate material on the Internet while allowing access to educational material.
    • Filtering can be used to prevent access to material that is illegal such as child pornography.
    • Filtering can be an effective means of limiting the liability that institutions face by providing Internet access.
    • Filtering can be used to increase employee productivity by restricting access to inappropriate or non-work related sites.
    • Filtering can conserve bandwidth, freeing existing bandwidth for mission-critical needs and decreasing the need to purchase additional bandwidth.

    Why is the ICN offering centralized filtering?

    • The ICN was established to serve the educational institutions in Illinois. A very high percentage of these educational institutions find it necessary to filter their Internet traffic.
    • Filtering is required for the continuation of federal e-rate subsidies currently offered to educational institutions.
    • By using the aggregate purchasing power of the ICN, it is possible to save constituents a significant amount of money from what they would be required to pay individually.
    • Selecting, purchasing, configuring and maintaining filtering equipment is difficult for schools and institutions with limited technical staff. The ICN has this expertise and can offer this service with a minimum impact on ICN staff.
    • The ICN respects the participants connected to the network and believes it is extremely important that filtering decisions be made by each organization rather than the ICN. The filtering solution the ICN has implemented has the ability to allow each participant organization to administer the filtering settings according to the requirements of that organization (choosing what categories and sites should be blocked). The ICN delayed centralized filtering solutions until this feature set was available and sufficiently scalable for consideration on a large scale network such as the ICN.

    What centralized filtering software will the ICN be offering?

    • The company name is McAfee.
    • The product is called Web Gateway

    Why was McAfee chosen over other filtering solutions?

    • The quality of the filtering method and categorizations.
    • The product's scalability for large-scale implementation.
    • The product's ability to have delegated administration functionality.
    • The company's stability and reputation. McAfee is currently a leading provider of filtering solutions for education. They currently provide filtering for approximately 40% of the educational market.
    • The cost.

    How are sites categorized by McAfee? Is McAfee100% accurate?

    • McAfee uses a proprietary process, via Trusted Source database, that is a combination of technology and human review. This process reduces the frustrations associated with "keyword blocking" methods.
    • No filtering method is completely accurate because the Web is extremely vast and changes daily. In addition, categorization of Web content is often somewhat subjective.
    • McAfee's Trusted Source Web site allows users to submit a site URL for review by McAfee staff if the user feels that the site has been incorrectly categorized.

    Will filtering slow down my Internet connection?

    • Filtering will introduce a few milliseconds to the transaction time for each site accessed. This additional time will not be perceptible to users.
    • Some institutions may actually experience faster download times in situations where a significant amount of inappropriate traffic is removed by filtering.

    Will constituents who choose not to filter be affected by this implementation?

    • No, only constituents who subscribe to ICN filtering will have their Internet traffic directed to the filtering equipment on the ICN backbone. Other constituents will be completely unaffected.

    What are the costs for ICN filtering and how will my organization be billed?

    • A $500.00 one-time installation fee will be billed to each organization or school district. An organization will be charged a single installation fee provided that billing for the entire organization is sent to a single location and the ICN has only one contact for all sites within that organization.
    • A recurring charge of 45 cents per month for each computer using the service will be billed to the organization. Bills will be mailed monthly.
    • A one-year commitment is required.

    What should I do if my organization has already signed a contract for filtering with Secure Computing or another provider?

    • ICN constituents who are happy with their current filtering solution (or lack thereof) are not required to purchase this service from the ICN.
    • ICN constituents who are currently using another solution can weigh the advantages and disadvantages of ICN filtering when it is time to renew their contract or upgrade hardware for their current solution. Constituents can subscribe to ICN filtering when and if it is appropriate for them.

    What is involved in the installation of ICN filtering?

    • ICN staff will configure the filtering equipment on the ICN backbone to accept access from your institution's computers.
    • If the access router located at the constituent site is ICN managed, ICN staff will make any configuration changes on the router that are required to accommodate ICN filtering. If the constituent manages the access router, ICN staff will provide assistance to the technician responsible for the router.
    • ICN staff will provide documentation to assist constituents with changes that may be required on constituent equipment. Most implementations will require very minor configuration changes, if any at all.

    Will filtering equipment or software be required at my location? If not, how will my traffic be filtered?

    • All filtering equipment and software will be located on the ICN backbone.
    • Under most circumstances, users accessing the Internet will have their requests redirected to the ICN filtering equipment by the router. If redirection is not configured on the router, it may be necessary to make a minor configuration change to each computer that will be filtered.
    • Once the user's intended site is checked against the filter settings for that organization or group, the user will either be given access to the site or be denied access.

    What happens when users are denied access to a site? Will they know that the filter blocked the site?

    • When a user attempts to access a blocked site, the software will redirect the user to a web page indicating that the filter has blocked access to that site.
    • Secure Computing's Web site allows users to submit a site URL for review by Secure Computing staff if the user feels that the site has been incorrectly categorized.

    Is it possible for users to get around the filter? What can I do to prevent this?

    • Yes, no filtering method is completely foolproof. It is technically possible for sophisticated users to find ways around the filter.
    • The ICN implementation of filtering is no more vulnerable to being compromised than other solutions.
    • Appropriate measures will be taken to make the ICN filtering solution as difficult as possible to circumvent.
    • ICN staff can provide constituents with consultation about addition measures to be considered if needed. The ICN does not publish this material however to prevent users from getting access to this information.

    How will the filtering software be administered? Will constituents have any control over which categories of sites are filtered?

    • Each constituent using ICN filtering will need to appoint one person to be the administrator for that organization.
    • The RTC will give the constituent administrator delegated administration authority over the IP addresses within his organization.
    • The constituent administrator will be given a user name and password to allow access to a Web interface on the ICN filtering equipment.
    • The constituent administrator will use the Web interface to make all filtering decisions for his organization.

    What if my organization doesn't have technical staff to do filtering administration?

    • The Web interface for the constituent administrator is extremely intuitive and does not require technical expertise.
    • RTC staff will provide instruction for the constituent administrator and assist with the initial setup.
    • RTC staff can be called upon for assistance when needed.

    What filtering options are available?

    • The filtering software is set up with a general set of filters and is very flexible which allows the site to customize to their needs.
    • The table below shows which categories are filtered with each of the pre-configured options.
    • In addition, the constituent administrator can choose to block or allow each individual category.
    • List of categories of sites that can be blocked or allowed.

    How can I find out more information about what is included in each of these categories and why my institution might want to have that category blocked?

    • Additional information is available at the McAfee web site.
    • McAfee also has a URL checker on its Web site ( that allows someone to see how a particular site is categorized.

    What additional functionality will be available for the constituent administrator?

    • Block or unblock specific sites.
    • Create Block and Exception categories.
    • Apply different filtering settings for each site or group within that organization (by IP address).
    • Apply schedule-based filtering to groups within that organization.
    • Block or allow specific file types.

    What are the capabilities of the ICN Centralized filtering solution? Which Internet liabilities will not be addressed by ICN filtering?

    Filtering Web content
    Filtering downloads via FTP (FTP is the most common protocol used by Web browsers like Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator to download files and programs)
    Preventing users from using free Web E-mail Sites
    If filtering of Free Mail category is selected.
    Preventing users from using Web E-mail from ISPs or other commercial providers
    If filtering of Web Mail is selected sites such as,,, etc will be blocked.
    Preventing users from accessing E-mail using programs like Outlook, Outlook Express or Eudora (POP mail)
    A firewall is needed.
    Preventing users from using file sharing programs like Kaza, etc.
    Specific File sharing sites may be blocked but filtering will not prevent users from sharing files if they are able to install the software from CD or by using their own laptops. A firewall is needed.
    Preventing internal users from hacking external computers via the Internet
    A firewall is helpful but cannot stop the most experienced hackers.
    Preventing external users from hacking internal computers via the Internet
    A firewall is needed.

    When will ICN filtering be operational?

    • ICN filtering is available now.

    How can I sign up for ICN filtering?