Administration for schools

Administration for schools

For system administrator in the school system it is particularly difficult to maintain a network and access to the Internet. There are potential legal liabilities if content is not properly filtered and children are allowed to view pornography and other non-productive and potentially dangerous content. For a school, too much filtering is better than too little. This section describes some basic practices administrators can employ to help maintain control without being too draconian for access to the internet.

 

Security policies

The default security policies in FortiOS allow all traffic on all ports and all IP addresses. Not the most secure. While applying UTM profiles can help to block viruses, detect attacks and prevent spam, this doesn’t provide a solid overall security option. The best approach is a layered approach; the first layer being the security policy.

When creating outbound security policies, you need to know the answer to the question “What are the students allowed to do?” The answer is surf the web, connect to FTP sites, send/receive email, and so on.

Once you know what the students need to do, you can research the software used and determine the ports the applications use. For example, if the students only require web surfing, then there are only two ports (80 – HTTP and 443 – HTTPS) needed to complete their tasks. Setting the security policies to only allow traffic through two ports (rather than all 65,000), this will significantly lower any possible exploits. By restricting the ports to known services, means stopping the use of proxy servers, as many of them operate on a non-standard port to hide their traffic from URL filtering or HTTP inspection.

 

DNS

Students should not be allowed to use whatever DNS they want. this opens another port for them to use and potentially smuggle traffic on. The best approach is to point to an internal DNS server and only allow those devices out on port 53. Its the same approach one would use for SMTP. Only allow the mail server to use port 25 since nothing else should be sending email.

If there is no internal DNS server, then the list of allowed DNS servers they can use should be restrictive. One possible exploit would be for them to set up their own DNS server at home that serves different IPs for known hosts, such as having Google.com sent back the IP for playboy.com.


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