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The Hertfordshire Internet and Connectivity Service (HICS) Filtered Web Service

An Overview of the HICS Web Filtering Policies




What is web filtering and why is it needed?

Web filtering is the allowing and denying of access to websites. If anyone within HICS tries to search for inappropriate material it will be blocked.  That is, it is possible to restrict or control what a user is allowed to access.  There is a balancing act in protecting users from inappropriate material whilst making sure access to the relevant resources remains in place.


Why is it so important to have web filtering in place?

The e-Safety of pupils and students has  to be of primary concern to all school staff.


How is HICS protected?

Throughout the HICS network, we use a company called Netsweeper’s Internet Content Filtering product as our web filtering platform. Netsweeper are a leading provider of internet content filtering and web threat management solutions. Businesses, educational institutions and government all use their service. Their job is to monitor the internet and make sure that the tens of millions of websites out on the internet are correctly categorised. Netsweeper have 100 million end users and they also claim that 1 in 3 of all British school children are protected with their service.

On HICS we have tailored our own Netsweeper filtering polices which we call Web Factors; WF4 to WF1. You can think of these like sun screen factors, the higher the factor, the more filtering there is. Every website has a category. Each of the website categorisations is permitted/restricted in the different web filtering policies. This is best described in the table in the document below.

Filtering Policies Table


What is the difference between the Web Factors?

As you can see, WF1 is the least restrictive and can therefore be regarded as our baseline policy, being geared towards trusted users such as staff. It denies access to pornography, the promotion of illegal activities and to the propagation of hatred but most other material is allowed. As this is a more relaxed baseline than the one employed in the early years of our service, we do ask for Headteacher approval before you will be able to successfully employ the proxy settings for WF1.

Wf1 Request Form

WF3 is ideally suited for primary school children. YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook are blocked. You will also find that restrictions are in place, denying access to non-educational games websites.

WF4 is exactly the same as WF3 but it restricts access to the Twitter website. Twitter is available on every other filtering policy

WF2 is very similar to WF3. The main difference being that games websites are accessible. After school clubs for example, may wish to deploy this policy.

It is possible to have computers from within the same school, to be configured to different web filtering policies. For example, you could have staff machines on WF1 and students on WF3.

Another option is for schools to tailor their own WF1/2/3/4 policies. This is a lot more straight forward than you would think and we are happy to talk people through how to do this.

More information on the filtering policies can be found on the HfL HICS connectivity blog:


Who do we contact if we believe some web content is being filtered incorrectly?

If in doubt please contact the HICS Service Desk:
01438 844777 (Option 1 then Option 2)

The two main reasons for contacting the Service Desk are:

  1. A user has accessed a web page which you believe is inappropriate and should be denied.  If you are able to send the exact address of the content concerned we will be able to take action more swiftly.
  2. A user has been denied access to a web page and you don’t understand why that should be.  It will be helpful if you can briefly explain why you believe this content should be allowed.

Kevin Crawley
Schools' Connectivity Service Co-ordinator
Tel: 01438 844809