What is the issue?

In January the Google search services will move all search results behind SSL encryption.
This means that all search results will then be served using ‘https’, with the secure padlock shown in web browsers.

What is the impact on how RM SafetyNet Plus filters these search results?

This makes it impossible for cloud-based filtering products such as RM SafetyNet Plus to continue to effectively filter search results in the way it did before (i.e. by inspecting search queries and results) without first intercepting the secure connection, which means that some inappropriate results may appear if care is not taken to search accurately and sensitively.

Therefore from January, unless you take action, Google search results will not be filtered by RM SafetyNet Plus.

If for any reason you don’t take action, we can ensure that Google SafeSearch is applied to search results; however this doesn’t offer the level of filtering that you receive through RM SafetyNet Plus. You will therefore run the risk of inappropriate search results, including images, being displayed to your users.

Does this represent a safeguarding issue for our learners and other users?
It could do as it means it is likely that inappropriate material could appear in search results e.g. inappropriate links, thumbnail images etc. Whilst there has always been a slight potential for this to happen in the past (as no filtering system is 100% secure) the changes Google will make means that the possibility for inappropriate content to pass by filters has increased enough for us to be concerned.

What are we doing about it?

RM Education has taken the decision as a result of the recent Google announcement to develop and add additional functionality to RM SafetyNet Plus that provides a way to filter inappropriate Google search results. This new ‘SSL interception’ functionality means that we can intercept and filter Google search results after Google implement their change. This is expected to be ready before Google make the change in December (though Google have yet to clarify exactly when this change will take place).

This will also allow us to subsequently address existing issues with other Google services like YouTube that have already moved to SSL.

For further information on YouTube SSL changes view the RM Tech Article.

Do schools need to do anything?

Yes. In order to perform ‘SSL interception’, schools need to make changes to the devices that use RM SafetyNet Plus (as it needs to decrypt, analyse, and then re-encrypt all traffic using a security certificate).

This certificate must be deployed to all computers and devices that browse via an RM SafetyNet Plus filtered connection. There will also need to be changes made to browsers that access the Google search engine.

We are providing the certificates for download, and support documentationwhich includes a guide to deploying the certificate to common network configurations and devices, as well as changing your proxy address after the certificate is deployed.

This requirement to distribute a certificate to all devices is similar to the approach used by other filtering appliances that offer SSL interception.

We have also developed a clear policy detailing what SSL traffic will be intercepted with regards to private transactions.
Download our SSL Interception Policy

You may wish to discuss this process with your technical support team, and ensure everyone is aware of the steps you have taken to ensure the continued protection of your learners and staff

If you have been given this link you will need one of the following certificate downloads to ensure you are able to use Google services from withing the schools network.

[download id=”5″]

[download id=”6″]

[download id=”7″]

[download id=”8″]