Looking for advice: Best web filter for student iPads

VCHS
New Contributor II

We are looking at a possible change and would like to know what is working well for other admins. Our students travel between campuses, so the solution needs to work anywhere the iPad connects.

17 REPLIES 17

blackholemac
Valued Contributor III

Let me guess...you use Lightspeed now?

VCHS
New Contributor II

We use Barracuda. It works fairly well, I just want to know what else I should review before the next school year. I'll take that as a warning to stay away from Lightspeed.

sharriston
Contributor II

We are using Securly to moderate success. It works nicely because we can filter while the device is on other networks as well. It was relatively easy to set up and the Securly support team is pretty good about helping with Jamf issues.

boberito
Valued Contributor

I've heard Lightspeed Relay for iOS is coming very shortly(like basically in March). We're going to be investigating that as soon as we can.

Currently we use Mobicip, I wouldn't recommend it.

dmillertds
Contributor

Would love to see more discussion on this. Have pretty much narrowed down our selection between LightSpeed and Securly. Just sat through webinar on LightSpeed, they do now have IOS "smart agents", deploying with JAMF. I like the agent idea better than Securly's proxy setup, but I like Securly's parent/social focus more. I have used Securly for some "problem children" Chromebooks, and it seems dead simple, and works. Anyone using either have any insight?

galionschools
Contributor

I've trialed Securly before and it's great if you're using GAFE in your school/district. With any device other than a Chromebook it's going to be a dns type filter though, and unlike the Chromebook product it's not free :( . Our ITC gives us iBoss which works well in most cases. They've mentioned to us during meetings that Cisco Umbrella may replace it in the distant future.

Sidebar:
I've witnessed some poor behavior from some mid/low level marketing folks at Securly over the course of two years. In all instances they sent an email to a district claiming to have worked with another district/itc and mentioned a coordinator, sys admin, director, etc. by name. That district/person of course had maybe sat through a webinar or talked to someone over email, but hadn't actually purchased or even trialed the software. When the topic was brought up on the statewide mailing list the affected folks said Securly execs(CEO, CIO) dealt with it pretty swiftly when it was brought to their attention. They attributed it to "growing pains" of being a startup. That being said some of the schools involved now refuse to do business with Securly.

dmillertds
Contributor

Hmm. Don't like to hear about your sidebar! I really dislike sleazy companies. My experience with them (had them do a demo for us) was very professional, and their sales contacts have not been too aggressive - unlike some others. Trying to find reviews of filtering products is fairly hard - hit or miss. What I've found is pretty much all over the place. I do like the newer focus on expanding beyond just filtering to parent portals, granule device/user profiles, social media AI, etc. That's why I'm leaning toward Securly or Lightspeed, as they seem a bit ahead of others in these areas. That said, it seems to be a very dynamic space right now, with new features being rolled out all the time - hard to know who actually delivers vs. promises.

thejenbot
Contributor III

We did a demo with Securly and had a good experience with their support staff but our users absolutely hated having to authenticate all the time in Safari. The redirects also slowed down the speed of browsing. The categories weren't as granular as some filters get, but they are going to be adding in some soon, including radicalization. The PAC file that installed on devices blocked some other things that we didn't want to block, including Google Translate, so we had to get exceptions added for those. I feel like with a bit of tweaking it could be a good solution, but the redirecting and authenticating issue was a bit much.

Bedfords
New Contributor II

We have tried for several months to get Mobicip to work. It was installed (per Mobicip) as a Global Proxy but it has never worked correctly. It makes Self Service not load and even locks up Safari. Mobicip support is terrible as they do not return calls and suggest obvious fixes that I have already tried. We basically wasted $1400 on this product. I have reached out to Mobicip to try an "in-house" app that they must configure.

Hugonaut
Valued Contributor II

We are on Lightspeed Relay for both macOS & iOS. It is a great filter, very granular. It is a Success on macOS 10.13 & iOS 12

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rsmith
New Contributor II

Wish there was more current activity on this post. We have been using Lightspeed for years. When we used the on premise filter (Rocket), we had very few issues and it worked. The problem was at home filtering. We made the switch to Relay this year and it's been a disaster! It does not work as well as Rocket and the configurations don't seem to work as well. It's very finicky when you make changes on whether it will work or not. It over filters more than it should. I have had to whitelist damn near everything. The biggest problem has been it's inability to work with any sort of pdf editing software on iOS. If you use Showbie or Google Classroom to edit documents in the pdf editor, it crashes, doesn't save, and continues not to work. Relay has released four updates to their app this year. After the second, the problem was resolve before being broken again in the third. Their customer support is atrocious. They suggest solutions that are not solutions or only work for Chromebooks. I was on a support chat for 3 hours not long ago because they didn't know how to respond to my question. When they do not know, they ignore you. I am fed up and about to switch, but it seems none of these other options are much better. Anyone out there have any updates on what they are using now and if they like it?

jnwilliams
New Contributor

Anyone actually happy with their off campus ipad filtering in 2020? We use Lightspeeds Rocket right now. It does NOT work well with Google Classroom.

danny33c
New Contributor III

We've had our issues with Relay, but right now it is stable on all of our K-8 iPads and 9-12 Windows laptops at home during the closure. Console is responsive and changes take effect quickly. When we started it up, I pretty much copied our entire config from the Rocket over to Relay.
There was a 20 minute system-wide outage with Relay about two months ago that coincided with a test of NYS exams on iPads. Pretty moot now, but at the time it was annoying. It's been good since, with a few small issues here and there.
Their support was amazing, but has taken a step down lately. We use O365, but no Google or Chromebooks, and only iPads and laptops. On iPads you have to restrict apps from being deleted by the user, if students are able to delete the Relay app, it will bypass all filtering. Do not try to circumvent this by using "Do not allow some apps" restriction feature to try to "hide" it, learned that the hard way.

VCHS
New Contributor II

We have switched twice since the original post. We first gave ZScaler a try. It was very effective and had great features, but required a lot of work to deploy, and ultimately was just too expensive.

We ended up switching to Relay when it was released. We are 1:1 iPad which I guess was new territory for them. At the start there were a lot of problems with policies not hitting the correct groups or not deploying at all, but they appear to have worked the kinks out. There was also a pretty nasty bug with iOS 13.1 that would block all communications if the agent was updated. We also ran into the "hide the app" issue, luckily during testing. Someone posted that if you force the home screen layout and add the Relay Agent, that you can then enable the ability for students to delete apps since they cannot remove apps listed in the layout. That would be useful so we'll probably test that out soon.

All said, we are pretty happy with it now. It has been stable for a while, policy changes deploy fairly quick, and they have been adding improvements to the product.

j_carroll
New Contributor III

We use an on-prem Smoothwall proxy. Works 100%. Super easy to use, set up, and deploy. Support is great.

dave_saltmarsh
New Contributor II
  1. Any recent success with iOS filtering? Especially with devices out of school?

  2. Anyone venturing into the "student safety" realm of monitoring for self harm, bullying, or other concerning threats to students' wellbeing?

So far -- 1. It shouldn't let proxy break apps
2. Needs to work well with Google Classroom
3. What other so stoppers are there?

milochm
New Contributor II

we use Content Keeper. There’s an app on the iPad that sends identity to our appliances and then we configure an on demand VPN with a global proxy fallback. If kids turn off the VPN..the global proxy presents a page with instructions on how to re-enable it.