Technology KnowledgeBase

Why does the web filter block certain websites that seem harmless?

Sometimes it is not readily apparent why a site is being blocked. The following are the most common instances where this happens:

1) CopyCat Site - Some sites use a domain name similar to a popular site, then use that to trick people into using their site. Common examples are www.whitehouse.com (instead of www.whitehouse.gov) and www.kcls.com (instead of www.kcls.org), both of which are now fake search engines (one used to be a porn site).

2) Fake Search Engines - There are a number of fake search engine sites out there now (thousands of them!) which take the words you typed in and create a bunch of links to related topics. Those links take you to a listing of apparently related sites, but those sites have almost all paid to be advertised that way and many of them are there only to trick you into visiting so they can install a virus or other malware on your computer. Be very wary of unknown search engines!

3) Hidden Redirects - Sometimes the link you click on will redirect you "behind the scenes" to some site you didn't expect. This is very common with advertisements, for example, especially those that take you to ebay bids.

4) Known Malware Sites - Some sites have a reputation for infecting your computer when you use them. As these sites are identified, they are added to the block categories by our vendor and may end up getting blocked.

5) Unsafe Services - Many sites provide the ability to do things that we cannot allow for student access. This includes sites with free chat services and sites that offer to translate another web site for you. The latter are a problem because you can enter ANY web site (such as www.playboy.com) in their engine and get the translated page back even if it would normally be blocked by the web filter. This is known as an "anonymizer" and it effectively removes any web filtering.

6) Nuisance Sites - Several sites have been blocked upon request from schools staff because the sites represent a significant nuisance in the school. This generally includes gaming sites and sites with comedy video content.

If you believe a site should be unblocked that is currently blocked, or a site blocked that is currently unblocked, please follow the instructions in Article 62 on how to request that change.

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