Suicide Prevention: Behind Their Minds

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September means Back to School! There’s excitement in the air as families rush to the Target aisles to buy notebooks, pens, and materials for a promising year full of new experiences. As exciting as Back to School can be, kids can feel scared and overwhelmed. For many, it can feel too overwhelming. September also happens to be National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, an occasion to spotlight an issue that is growing among youths, and one that shows no signs of slowing down.

Youth suicide is a major cause of death during the crucial years when they should be building healthy interactions with their peers, constructing positive self-images, and forming important social bonds. According to 2015 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death in children aged 10-14.

Many suicides occur in isolation, while others are clustered in back-to-back succession around the same school or district. Many school authorities and administrations are baffled as to what is causing their students to kill themselves with alarming frequency. Could it be an increasingly rigorous academic schedule? Is it from bullying and social pressure to be attractive, cool, liked?

There are many reasons why this could be happening. Social pressure and lack of support can be contributors, as well as anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic disorders, and other psychological disorders which can impact suicidal intent. Kids struggling with anxiety disorders are more likely than mentally healthy people to have suicidal thoughts, make suicide attempts, or complete suicide. When it comes to depression, according to researchers, a specific occurrence of hopelessness in depressed people, rather than the depression as a whole, is a stronger indicator of suicidal feelings. That means that a depressed child will not necessarily be suicidal, but that a child feeling hopeless during their depression will be more likely to want to kill themselves.

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That being said, it is important to remember that not every child who is suicidal has a mental disorder, and not every person with a mental disorder is suicidal. Many factors contribute to why a kid may feel that way, and it’s important to pay attention to warning signs when they do. Kids who want to harm themselves or die typically will leave a number of clues that indicate their suicidal ideation or intention.

In our next blog post covering suicide, we’ll explore the warning signs that parents and teachers can look out for, and how to help your child when you find them.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741 to get connected with Crisis Text Line.

All Hail Auto Scaling !

You might think that auto scaling is the practice of meticulously painting, say, your Toyota Prius to look like an Atlantic salmon. It’s hard to believe, but…you would be wrong. Auto scaling refers to servers turning on or sleeping based on the amount of traffic at a given time. The new school year means increased traffic, which means you’d better be prepared.

Earlier scaling attempts were on par with early attempts at flight, a lot of trial and error. If it did work, it didn’t mitigate the chances of a server getting maxed out or even crashing. Cloud-based auto scaling solves a lot of these issues. To roll out cloud-based auto scaling, our engineers have enduring sleepless nights, fewer showers, and lots of caffeine. Now, it’s up and running.

securly-horizontal-scaling-gif (1).gifAs traffic fluctuates, servers turn on or go to sleep based on use. To help the servers get to sleep, they are read an excerpt from 50 Shades of Grey. Knocks ‘em right out.

Advantages of cloud-based auto scaling

  • Better fault tolerance: Auto scaling detects when an unhealthy instance, terminates it, and launches a replacement.
  • Improved availability: This ensures that our servers always have the capacity to handle the current traffic demands.
  • Blazing fast DNS resolution.
  • Automated load handling.
  • Highly scalable.
  • Higher service uptime.

IMG_20170912_144122.jpgWhat started as an overly complex game of tic-tac-toe between Siddhartha Desai, DevOps Engineer and Pei Deng, DevOps Manager became the genesis for our cloud-based auto scaling. Also, Sid won three games straight.

Securly’s goal is simple. Our engineers are taking care of the auto scaling so that admins don’t have to. Before a big day like Back to School, we would rather let them sleep.

 

Securly + 600 Districts in One Month = Safer Students!

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Despite industry norm, Securly believes that basic online safety for kids should be free. Securly isn’t the oldest company in EdTech, but we are among the fastest growing. To back up that claim, let’s do the math. Number of school districts who are paying customers: over 1000; Districts using the free Chrome Extension and Auditor: 600; Cost of our extension and Auditor: $0. Those are good numbers. From a business standpoint, we’re happy. From an altruistic standpoint, we’re ecstatic.

The 600 school districts (and counting) that have rolled out Securly Free have noticed a few things. First, because it categorizes dangerous websites (e.g. porn, gambling, drugs), students are thriving with a more age-appropriate Internet. Second, because Securly is cloud-based, school districts are benefitting from a minimal network footprint. Win-win? Yup-yup!

Auditor is the name of our tech that uses artificial intelligence to scan Gmail for signs of cyberbullying or even self-harm. It’s as cool as it sounds. When we hear directly about a life that was changed for the better or a life that was saved because of what we do, it means more than anything. Like, more than a good WiFi signal? Definitely.

More than a free Tesla? Oh yeah.

More than the power of invisibility? Totally.

More than ice cream? Well, now you’re just being blasphemous.

Districts signing up for Securly Premium are thrilled with the expansion to non-Chromebook devices (tablets, Macs, PCs, etc.), Parental Integration, Delegated Admin, and Dedicated Student Safety Coordinators.

“I wanted to quickly write you and thank everyone at Securly for their hard work. I like to think this is Securly pilot semester and your services have been recommended by others I network with in education. I look forward to using this tool as a part of our student monitoring. Thank you, again, and make sure to thank the entire Securly team.”

Collin Miller

Taos Academy Charter School

“Just an update. It’s working amazingly and already alerted us to one potential self-harm/suicide situation so we can intervene. We’re quite pleased! Thanks for everything.”

David Wolford

Securly shook up the industry by offering basic safety for kids for free, forever. Schools and parents (and kids) have benefitted from this in so many ways that we’re confident in our decision to release the free Chrome Extension. Free or Premium, Securly keeps kids safe and gives adults peace of mind. Free or Premium, schools and parents can’t go wrong.

For more information please watch this video.

Get Safer Students Now! 

Chromebook Filtering. FREE. For Everyone.

securly-available-worldwide-illustration-v4.jpgIn March this year,  we launched Auditor our free tool that detects signs of bullying and self-harm on Gmail. Securly was founded with a double-bottom line mission to keep kids safe online while continuing to be a sustainable business. Humbled by the overwhelming response to Auditor, we have now opened up our Chromebook filtering service for FREE for everyone – within the US and outside

You can sign up and install the Chrome extension here. Our Chromebook solution is easy to install (10 mins – no kidding!). It protects kids from inappropriate and malicious content, follows them home, and even keeps parents in the loop. 

And just because our Chromebook service is free does not mean that we leave you to figure it out for yourself. If you need help, you can sign up to our daily UI walkthrough webinars with one of our engineers to help you understand the features and answer any questions you may have. Or you can connect with our current users and support team over the dedicated Google+ forum.

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Why Web Filtering is Integral in the Fight Against Hate Speech

securly, web filtering, students, school, cyberbullying

The current situation

Hate speech is speech that vilifies a group of people based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, gender, etc. It is an undeniable part of this country’s past and a threat to our future. While many Americans urge acceptance and inclusion, others vocalize prejudice and animosity. Our current leadership explicitly condones such disparaging remarks through their own practice.

People tend to repeat what they hear and see, especially children. And through social media, especially now, such remarks are more prevalent – reaching people across the country. Its impact does not go unnoticed. There have been reports of children bullying their classmates on the basis of race, invoking the current President’s name to validate their claims. Bullying is not only in the classroom, but online as well.

Unfortunately, social media as a medium seems to trivialize all content it transmits (everything from serious tragedy to harmful memes) and the informal culture causes us to forget the consequence of our actions online. While teachers are working to create a safe and tolerant environment on campus, physical limitations weaken their efforts when it comes to the online environment.

How web filtering can help

Traditionally, educators and parents saw web filtering only as a way to protect children from pornographic content, malware, and phishing. However, web filtering can also aid schools in fostering an inclusive learning community.

With the right web filter, schools can catch instances of cyberbullying and hate speech. Using Machine Learning algorithms, a web filter will find instances of cyberbullying and alert administrators and parents – allowing schools to resolve conflict immediately and encourage the conversation of acceptance outside of school walls.

 

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Webinar #4 Debrief: Layer 7 Filtering and Why it Matters for K-12

web filter, layer 7, webinar, K-12, firewallStudents getting around the web filter? Have no fear, Duckie 007 is here! In our most recent Webinar, our Principal Sales Engineer explains just what schools needs to prevent students circumventing web filters: Layer 7 filtering. We explicate the importance of Layer 7 Filtering for K-12 by first taking you through its history and the evolution of Firewall (from stateless to stateful) and finishing with tips to help you select the best Layer 7 appliance.

Here’s what we covered in Webinar #4:

  • History of Firewall, 1984 to present
  • Most Common Attack Vectors, what they are and what to watch out for
    • Tor – allows for anonymous communication based on Onion Routing
    • Ultrasurf – leaves no trace of use!
    • VPN – be wary of client software!
  • Selecting a Layer 7 Appliance for K-12
    • Throughput stats & scalability
    • Specializing – cloud vs hardware

See the full video hereWebinars occur at the end of the month and are open to everyone, free of charge.

 

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Webinar #3 Debrief: BYOD & Guest Networks

Securly, BYOD, network, schools

In Webinar #3, our Principal Sales Engineer Brandon Duckworth (Duckie 007) focuses on best practices for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in schools. Unlike 1:1 Initiatives where schools provide the device for the students, BYOD, allows students to bring personal devices which present different challenges.

Well, what are some things to consider before setting up a BYOD network? Brandon believes that Network Segmentation is the most important component for BYOD and provides an in-depth explanation on how to strengthen your school’s network. See full video here.

Webinars occur at the end of the month and are open to everyone, free of charge. Webinar #4 –Why Layer 7 filtering matters to K-12 schools?– will take place on May 25, 2017 at 11AM PST. Register here.

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Auditor Serves 200 School Districts Within Two Weeks of Launch

securly, auditor, gmail, student, safety

The numbers are in! Within two weeks, our new product “Auditor by Securly” already served 200 school districts. Auditor is a free tool that helps schools detect signs of bullying and self-harm on Google Mail.

Securly launched Auditor this March to help schools ensure the safety of their students by monitoring GMail for messages that are indicative of bullying or self-harm. With G-Suite products becoming instructional tools of choice in K-12 education, students are living in Google Drive and Gmail for their classwork. These tools have augmented Facebook and Twitter as media to perpetuate bullying and declarations of self-harm. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, however, they are not policed by traditional web-filtering solutions.

Auditor currently scans over 500,000 emails and sends out over 100 alerts per day – proof that it is an effective zero-cost solution for K-12 admins who seek to have their students use 21st-century tools while guaranteeing their safety. Keeping Auditor free forever is Securly’s commitment the company’s mission of ubiquitous and affordable student safety.

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Our 2000% Growth

securly, school, student, parent, web filter

Since 2014, we’ve had a growth of 2000% in Q1 bookings including 36 months of well over 100% year-over-year growth. These latest numbers set the stage for the realization of the company’s founding vision – which is ubiquitous child safety both at school and at home.

2017 Progress So Far

Q1 2017 growth numbers represented 150% year-over-year growth in bookings and included several marquee customers coming on board Securly’s cloud-based platform which now forms the network substrate of over 5000 schools. Hundreds of these schools have already signed up to be early adopter “partners” of Securly’s first-in-industry parent portal. Securly’s weekly email reports and parent portal are already being consumed by tens of thousands of parents on a weekly basis.  

The People Behind the Progress

To help fulfill our vision, we have attracted a world class sales team with decades of collective experience selling web filtering into K-12 schools. Our team is led by Anders Johnsson – Securly’s VP of Sales. Johnsson brings to Securly nearly 20 years of combined experience co-founding and managing web filter companies in education and leading sales operations teams. It was precisely Securly’s vision of parental involvement in student safety that drew him to Securly, says Johnsson. “Securly’s continued commitment to equipping schools for 1:1 cloud-based web filtering and student safety challenges, has come at just the right time. With increasing complexities of filtering and Digital Citizenship initiatives on the upswing, our parent portal, and student safety features are demonstrating to schools that Securly is the right partner. I am proud to be part of this talented team that is innovating and leading the charge in online student safety.”

 

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The First Anycast DNS, Powered Entirely by Amazon AWS

dns, anycast, internet, server, web filterWe are excited to announce that we are now able to serve our product via Anycast DNS powered entirely by Amazon’s AWS cloud. We are the first in industry to do so.

Our Anycast networking approach contrasts the traditional approach by allowing multiple physically separated web servers on the Internet to share the same IP address. Anycast networking prevents the need for setting up Internet datacenter Points of Presence (POPs) and allows Securly to continue to be 100% cloud-based without the need to lease servers from datacenters and manage both private and public clouds across the globe – a practice previous Anycast DNS players had to pick.

A client’s request is taken to the geographically closest or lowest latency server using core Internet Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) route advertisements. This eliminates the need for CDNs and extends to protocols such as DNS. While CDNs work well for distribution of cached or static web-content, they do not work well with dynamic web content, and simply do not work with other Internet protocols such as DNS.

The availability of Anycast DNS enables Securly to deliver a number of immediate advantages to their global customer base:

  • Simplified deployments: Customers on different clusters no longer have to use different IP addresses.
  • Ability to serve ISPs and access point providers who are location agnostic.
  • Ability to serve mobile users who may travel internationally.
  • Ability to provide fault tolerant uptime even when critical infrastructure fails, by failing over to nearby clusters completely seamless to the customer.

 

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