Smoothwall Filter – What’s new?

The online world is constantly changing, and the learning environment is no exception to this rule. That’s why having a web filtering that operates in real-time, is content aware and offers granular control is key for IT leaders and DSLs.

This necessity for constant adaptability is why Smoothwall Filter is recognised as the UK’s number one tool. We are constantly investing in our tech, which means that blocking emerging digital threats and allowing simpler management and analysis for schools, is standard as part of our web filtering offering.

We’ve recently implemented a range of new features across our filter to help schools, colleges and MATs protect the students in their care. Here, we explain the latest updates and upcoming features to our software.

Flexible deployment methods

Deployment options are expanding and cloud-based web filtering is becoming more common than ever before – with many schools scrapping their on-premise environments altogether.

To reflect these advances, our filter now has three deployment methods available across Windows, Macs and Chromebooks. These provide schools, colleges and MATs with an effective solution that suits them:

  • On-premise: our traditional model with filtering servers sat on your network.
  • Cloud: with no equipment required on site. Perfect for customers who have all their devices managed or can force installation by Unified Client.
  • Hybrid: a mixture of on-premise and cloud, for maximum flexibility. Best suited for more complex environments, with a mixture of managed devices using cloud and unmanaged devices, such as BYOD, using the on-premise.

Additionally, as part of our cloud filter, we are introducing a cloud-based management portal where all filtering configuration and reporting takes place. This includes significant benefits including; a fresh and modern portal interface; enhanced administration tools for multi-tenant environments; frequent updates released without the need for installation management; and quick deployment.

Cloud portal

Our new user interface means our customers will have easy access and visibility of all products they are licensed for. The new portal includes a range of features including:

  • Overview of recent activity of your filter – this can be filtered by time range. Additionally, if you have a multi-tenant set-up, you can filter this by different tenancies.
  • Search policies – this screen will show you all the policies you have in place across your system. Policies can now also be named to easily describe them, and can be expanded to see the who, what, where and when contents of the policy. You can also search the policy table by keywords used in the policy.
  • Set policies – it’s now extremely easy to browse through all the available categories of content you want to include in a new policy. You can also add a descriptive name for the policy as well as a comment. You can now also search the available categories to determine which category a particular website belongs to, and then easily add this to your policy.
  • Custom categories – in our ‘custom categories’ section, you can create your own lists of domains/URLs and add new entries with a general comment for the category, as well as individual comments on each entry. This feature is extremely useful for explaining why a particular entry was added to this category.
  • Add additional users – our portal allows you to add additional users who can access the filtering and reporting management portal, as well as assign different roles, or allow them access to only specific tenants. Simply add their details and they will automatically be sent an invitation email to access the portal.
What’s new with cloud-based reporting?

If your user has the necessary permissions, reporting can be accessed through the same portal as filtering. Once you access reporting, you will be able to view a detailed dashboard, highlighting important activity such as the top websites visited, most active users, an overview of allowed and blocked requests over time, top searched terms, and network latency.

In this first release, we’ve made the most important report available – the investigative audit report. This shows the deep detail of all web activity matching the criteria chosen and allows you to investigate safeguarding concerns relating to web access quickly and provide information that may be required by teaching staff, and third parties. This report will be generated in the cloud and sent via email – a process which is often much quicker than existing on-premise reporting.

In future releases of cloud reporting, we will be adding further reports to allow you to analyse data in a variety of different ways and produce other formats, styles and types of reports.

For more information, you can watch our short webinar here.

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