SSL Decryption without PAC files

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If you have endured the pain of deploying Proxy Auto-Configuration (PAC) files, get ready to jump for joy! Beginning May 30th, Securly is pleased to announce the “Death of PAC Files”.

As you may know, Securly was founded on the premise of a simple 5-minute deployment. A web filter for schools that IT admins can truly set and forget. As we have evolved as a company, a major impediment to the realization of this vision has been the use of PAC files for those of our customers who deploy Securly for in-school (DNS based) filtering.

To understand how we ended up here, its helpful to trace through our technical evolution:

  • We first started off as a DNS-to-proxy web-filter. Simply put, we use DNS queries to selectively proxy domains that need to be filtered. In slightly more technical terms, when our DNS server receives a query for a domain like google.com or facebook.com, we “lie” to the client about the resolution and instead point to the IP address of one of our proxies.
  • Our core backend engine uses the industry standard – tried and tested Squid open-source web-proxy. Needless to say, we have had to heavily modify Squid over time to get it to perform all of the magic (Google SSO, per policy filtering, etc) that our customers have come to rely on. An essential and early innovation we introduced on the Squid side was industry-first transparent HTTP and HTTPS proxying. Out of the box, Squid relies on the configuration of an explicit proxy at the browser level. The core Squid engine had to be modified to accept unproxy-ed HTTP and HTTPS traffic.
  • Very soon, we ran into the need to decrypt HTTPS traffic due to the following reasons (i) web-sites that YouTube and Yahoo that need HTTP header/cookie insertion to enforce Safety Mode (ii) web-sites like Facebook and Twitter that needed to be allowed for staff, but blocked for students.
  • We tried and failed very early on to achieve transparent HTTPS decryption (which is quite different from transparent HTTPS proxying). However, the numbers spoke for themselves (500 support tickets over one year re: PAC files alone) when it came to the pain our customers were going through as a result of these PAC files.
  • Although the use of PAC files has becomes the industry norm, we realized that to reduce friction for customers (and to make the product easier to support), we simply had to solve this problem. We engaged the services of a industry leading crypto expert who build transparent HTTPS decryption for us. We are in the process of integrating his work back into our technology.

We believe that completely getting rid of PAC files while retaining SSL decryption abilities is nothing short of magic and are thrilled to announce that our customers will experience this for themselves very soon. 

Should you have any questions about this change, please do not hesitate to contact us at support[AT]securly.com.

Securly launches the first cloud-based home internet security solution for parents to manage kids’ screen time

Securly now offers the first cloud-based home internet security solution that allows parents to manage screen time via safe versions of Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and more.

Parents who sign up can enable safe Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and custom policies for any device and any user on their home network, with a simple 5-minute setup and a dashboard summary of all activity.

Securly, Inc. – the world’s leading cloud-based provider of Internet Security for K-12 schools – today announced the general availability of its “Securly for Parents” product for the Home Internet Security market.

This offering includes the following benefits:

  • Single-point install (cloud-based)
  • Covers all users/devices in the home
  • Dashboard summary of activity by user
  • Weekly reports
  • High-urgency alerts

Securly pioneered cloud-based Internet Security for K-12 schools back in 2013. A year later, it introduced the patent-pending Securly for Parents product to allow parents to co-manage home policies for their children’s school-owned devices. With this release, Securly now extends the same technology to families for use in a typical home network environment.

Securly’s product is the first cloud-based home internet security solution to help parents manage their kids’ screen time on all devices throughout the home, with setup consisting of a simple 5-minute configuration on the home router. This offering includes the ability for parents to enable safe search and safe image search on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and kid-friendly versions of sites like YouTube and Wikipedia. Parents will also be emailed a weekly summary of their children’s activity.

To get started, parents can sign up at:

http://www.securly.com/parents.html

Early users of Securly for Parents are excited about the new offering. Said Robert Duncan of Charleston, South Carolina, “I can’t tell you how much I greatly appreciate this service with teenage boys in the house. It really does a great job protecting them from all of the temptation out there. You also have great customer service! Thank you.”

In 2012, Securly was started out of a Silicon Valley garage with the vision of building an easy-to-deploy service that provided ubiquitous online safety to kids while keeping parents in the loop on how their kids’ devices were being used. Although version 1.0 of Securly’s product was built for parents, the startup quickly realized how difficult it was to compete in the Home Internet Security market – going up against established names like McAfee – without a certain minimum threshold of brand trust.

As Securly thought about ways to gain adoption without having to compromise its vision, it did find one market that shared the goal of online child safety while remaining completely open to trying a product that none had heard of before. Said Securly co-founder Bharath Madhusudan, “K-12 schools in the US proved to be full of early adopters who were more than happy to try, and even buy, the only cloud-based player in town. With the help of our friends and well-wishers, we believe that we are well on our way to building a best-of-breed web filter for K-12 schools. In just two years, we have grown from zero to over a thousand schools.” With its K-12 school product now in a mature state, Securly is bringing the same technology to the home market to help parents understand how kids are using devices like Chromebooks and iPads. This move is in line with previous innovations from Securly. Two years ago, it developed the concept of “teacher whitelisting”, which gives classroom teachers the ability to approve a blocked website needed for instruction. Now, with patent-pending parental integration, Securly gives parents an increased sense of ownership in their child’s education by allowing them to co-manage home internet policies on school devices. This technology also delivers weekly reports that summarize how all devices – personal and school – are being used, along with high-urgency alerts for critical incidents like cyber-bullying and self-harm.

As a startup, Securly was helped by the fact that the two markets it serves – schools and parents – were not just highly synergistic, but also shared significant portions of the code base. This allowed its engineers to rapidly build features for its school customers and have those exact same features benefit parents in the same software release. In other words, Securly’s renewed commitment to building a best-of-breed home product does not in any way cannibalize the trajectory of its K-12 offering. The release of Securly for Parents is a huge step forward for the company on several fronts – it returns to its original vision of being able to keep parents in the loop on how their kids are utilizing their screen time. This time, however, it is backed by the brand trust that comes from serving hundreds of thousands of students around the globe. Said Securly for Parents team lead Awais Ahsan, “Imagine being able to see what websites your kids are spending the most amount of time on across all of your home devices and using that information to guide their online behavior. That is precisely what Securly for Parents will deliver to its users.”

About Securly:
Securly is the world’s leading provider of cloud based security for K-12 schools. The founding team has a combined 20+ years of experience in network security. The company is a venture backed startup in Silicon Valley and serves thousands of schools in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

This press release was originally published on PRWeb. To read the original release, please click here.