This Thursday, we’re hosting another highly anticipated webinar: “The Ultimate Guide to iOS Deployments for K-12.” Back by popular demand, this interactive session will explore Cisco Meraki Systems Manager as a solution to help schools manage their Apple educational devices.
We’ll share strategies for deployment and managing device content for student-owned or school-owned iOS devices, including supervising devices, enforcing restrictions, deploying apps, and more.
Learn about reporting and monitoring the devices on your network, get ideas for best practices for iOS restrictions, and hear about some of the schools that are already using Cisco Meraki Systems Manager on a large scale to manage their devices.
Join us on Thursday at 10 am PDT for Deploying Apple iOS in Schools!
The Meraki team is in London this week attending Europe’s largest event for the Information Security industry. This year marks the 18th year for Infosecurity Europe, and this is our first year presenting alongside Cisco. If you’re in London, drop by Earls Court and see us at stand E72 to hear from the Meraki staff and get a one-on-one demo of our products. Here’s a shot of our booth under construction—we hope to see you there when its complete!
If you manage a K-12 network, keeping kids from unsafe sites may be the most important responsibility you’re tasked with. Kids are curious, and stumbling into seedy digital alleyways is easy to do. If you’ve ever wished you could barricade the Internet’s underbelly from creeping into your users’ online experience, or if you’ve ever wished for granular control over users, devices, and applications at the perimeter level, we’ve been listening. We’re excited to announce several new features for the MX security appliance targeted at the K-12 space. They include:
Improved content filtering, including SafeSearch (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing)
The ability to block encrypted search
YouTube for Schools
Group-based policy support
In a nutshell: these features protect your network from unsafe content and bandwidth abuse.
We’ve made several improvements to the MX series to strengthen content filtering. Appliances will now utilize real-time URL lookups with our content filtering partners in the event that a URL isn’t in the local database. This allows us to provide a significantly larger universe of content aware URLs while still providing fast filtering throughput.
Additionally, the MX series now offers SafeSearch filtering, which keeps unsafe content at bay. Simply enable “Web search filtering” in the Configure > Content filtering dashboard page, and immediately a SafeSearch filter will be applied to all Google, Yahoo!, and Bing HTTP-based searches. This beats manually configuring these browsers to filter unsafe content.
Enabling safe search filtering on the MX.
Blocking encrypted search
“Now, wait!” you say, “that’s all well and good, but kids can be crafty, too — what if they use encrypted search to deliberately look for unsafe content?” We’ve got you covered: you can enable “Block encrypted search” to disallow this behavior with Google searches (Yahoo! and Bing don’t support encrypted search at this time. Note, though, that due to Google limitations, this will disable access to Google products using SSL except Gmail).
SafeSearch filtering can also be used alongside Meraki’s regular content filtering to powerfully restrict unsafe material from manifesting in search results or being generally accessible.
YouTube for Schools
YouTube has become an increasingly important component of education, with thousands of free, high-quality education videos available on the site. The YouTube for Schools program allows students to watch educational videos while limiting access to other, non-educational videos on the site. With the MX, administrators can now enforce that policy for an entire network, ensuring that requests to YouTube are routed properly into the school’s YouTube policy.
Group-based security policies
The MX series now gives administrators greater control over users, devices, and applications. You can configure bandwidth limits, firewall rules, traffic shaping, SafeSearch and YouTube for School settings, and security and content filters for specific users, user groups, and VLANs. This allows you to translate the deep insight about the type of traffic and devices accessing your network into granular control at the perimeter level. For example, now you could have separate policies applied by the MX that give teachers one level of security and content filtering, while ensuring students are more restricted.
Group-based policies can be applied to users, groups of users, individual VLANs, and network-wide.
Organizations typically have several people accessing the same sites in a given time frame, and schools in particular can have entire classrooms using one web page or watching the same video. The MX series now allows administrators to cut down on their bandwidth bills and speed up the download experience with built-in web caching. Web caching allows frequently accessed web content to be served from the MX appliance, rather than the originating web server.
Current MX customers can schedule an immediate upgrade by calling Meraki support. We’re excited to offer these new features on the MX, so please tell us what you think!
If you’re interested in trying out an MX at your organization, we offer risk-free evaluations of all of our gear — and we’ll pay the shipping costs both ways — so it’s easy to see how well an MX can work in your environment.
Adding to our built-in splash page capabilities, Meraki APs now feature SMS-based splash authentication. It’s quite straightforward. Users connect to the wireless network and enter a mobile phone number. Then they receive an authorization code via SMS, and once they enter the code into the splash page, they’re granted access to the network. With SMS authentication, a business can provide self-service connection to guest wireless without having to manually verify that only real people are trying to connect. We’ve done the heavy lifting of integrating WiFi access with SMS, and every user should be quite familiar with receiving a simple text message. A mobile phone has never been so handy.
Naturally, configuring an SSID for SMS auth is done with a single click (or radio button in this case).
Access control setting for SMS authentication
Users connecting to the network will see a splash page that asks for a mobile phone number.
SMS splash: mobile phone number input
Meraki’s system then sends a verification code via text message to the mobile number, and the user enters the code into the splash page to get access to the network.
SMS splash: verification code
Client details, including the phone number used for the SMS authentication, are displayed on the client details page.
Client details including SMS authentication status
25 free text messages are included so you can try splash pages with SMS authentication. After that, just configure your Twilio account information in the Network-wide settings page, and your Twilio account will be billed for the text messages sent to users using the SMS-based splash.
Launched in 2008, 8tracks is internet radio created by people, rather than algorithms. On 8tracks, people can do two things: listen to a mix, or create a mix of at least 8 tracks. 8tracks currently streams around 15 million hours of music monthly to listeners and aspires to be the top global radio network. As part of their growth plan, 8tracks needed a dependable network to support their various wired and wireless devices.
We sent the local 8tracks guys a Startup Kit and they were anxious to set up their Meraki network right away.
8tracks CTO and co-founder Remi told us, “We’re very happy with our Meraki equipment. The biggest difference is that we have WiFi that works now! On top of that, networked devices that broadcast and require a stable connection such as Apple TV, Sonos, or our printer are much more reliable. We don’t take advantage of it too much but the online management tool is the best I’ve seen on any router.”
We hope that Remi and the 8tracks crew are able to leverage the Meraki dashboard more as they grow their team and continue to provide more online mixtapes for the music-loving public!
Bill McSorley, Chief Information and Technology Officer, brought an innovative technology perspective to Edison Township Public Schools. ?Coming from a background on Wall Street, Bill was tasked with developing, scaling, and managing a new K-12 network that could support new trends and uses for technology in the education environment.
Yesterday, Bill joined us for a live webinar to describe how he overhauled a patchwork network, consisting of consumer-grade routers, to a flourishing network that he can control on the fly from anywhere.? Taking only a week and a half, Bill deployed the Cisco Meraki solution to three schools in his district, now supporting new initiatives like classroom iPads and laptop labs.
With fewer IT staff and a smaller budget than he was used to in his previous roles with big businesses, Bill needed a powerful and reliable solution with simple management.? He found this with Meraki, a solution that ?blew the competition away? and even gave him the ability to use the network to provide a place for community relief after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area.
Watch here to find out how Meraki provides Bill with deep visibility and control over his network and how he has deployed our free MDM solution to thousands of devices throughout his district.