Securly requirement sparks spyware rumor


“Your connection is not private; attackers might be trying to steal your information.”

This is the message that greeted many FHS students when trying to access the internet on their first day at school. They had not downloaded the Securly web filter, an application required by FUHSD in order to access school WI-FI. 

FUHSD has required students to download the Securly filter in order to qualify for Federal E-rate funds. According to the Federal Communications Commission, schools eligible for the E-Rate program may receive discounts on many telecommunications services and internet access. However, since Federal funds are being spent on the internet, ensuring appropriate use is more important.

Though students were notified about the mandated filtering software ten days prior to the start of the school year, many students harbored suspicions. Rumors circulated that Securly was spyware that could collect personal information from the installer. 

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that first off you can’t use anything that’s not Schoology and that it says ‘this link is unstable and unsafe’ and it’ll be on sites that I know are safe,” FHS senior Daelin Barney said. “I’ve also read that it is unsafe for your laptop and that it’s another way of recording your data.”

Some students decided to not use the school-provided WI-FI altogether. Worried about the application’s invasiveness, students opted to use a personal hotspot instead. Other students, however, appreciated the new filter on school WI-FI, arguing that tighter restrictions will curb inappropriate usage rather than be inconvenient. 

“I actually like it because people can’t use Google and other websites that are not school-appropriate,” FHS junior Simran Kaur said. 

The rumors regarding Securly tracking personal information while browsing at home are partially false. According to a written statement from Scott Harrington, Coordinator of Network Operations & Tech Support for FUHSD, Securely monitors district-issued devices such as chrome books regardless of location; however, personal devices are not monitored away from the network. 

Based in San José, Securly makes web filters such as the cloud-based K-12 web filter FUHSD is using. The district’s web filter logs and sorts all on-campus web traffic and traffic from district-issued devices. Securly either allows or blocks traffic; for certain categories of blocked websites, an alert might be sent to the administration. The filter being used in the FUHSD currently blocks the categories of pornography, gambling, network misuse and search engines that do not allow SafeSearch.

If users find that a website they need for school is blocked by the Securly filter, they can file requests for filtering exemptions to members of the technology staff for review. While Securly has a feature that enables the administration to easily track student web data, its main purpose is to regulate the usage of school WI-FI and district-provided devices.