Zscaler Cloud-Plattform

Zscaler Extends Inline, AI-Powered Protection to Online Student Safety

Kids using a laptop in a classroom

Today, we are excited to announce new innovations in the Zero Trust Exchange for K-12 schools to enhance student safety by preventing cyberbullying and online self-harm activity. The rapid acceleration of kids using internet-connected devices for school and the resulting harmful interactions online is alarming, so we stepped up and answered our K-12 customers’ ask for help: intertwine comprehensive cyber threat and data loss prevention with online student safety. In this blog, we’ll examine:

  • A prevalent student safety concern, cyberbullying;
  • How Zscaler is innovating to enhance student safety; and 
  • The benefits of a new partnership between Zscaler and Saasyan.

Cyberbullying poses significant risk to student safety

One of the many student safety-focused features we are releasing focuses on cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, unlike traditional forms of bullying, has taken on a new form of its own, allowing kids to bully and be bullied outside of school hours, not in a face-to-face environment, and over many different mediums. This has led to a rapid explosion of bullying online among kids, with 37% of all students reporting that they have experienced cyberbullying. This is more than double the rate since 2007, and for some perspective, in the United States, that represents about 20 million kids who are the victim of cyberbullying every year.

The impact of cyberbullying puts students’ mental and physical health at risk; somberly, students who are cyberbullied are 2.5x more likely to commit suicide and 60% of students see a negative impact on their grades and standardized test scores compared to those who aren’t bullied.    

Cyberbullying takes shape in many ways, but the primary vectors of harm come from: 

  • Social media 
  • Text message
  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • Online forums
  • Gaming communities

In the case of cyberbullying, kids’ safety is clearly at risk. But, the story doesn’t stop there; kids will continue to be exposed to new online spaces that may introduce new safety concerns outside of cyberbullying. As a result, K-12 schools across the globe are looking for an integrated, best-of-breed platform to help ensure the safety of their students online. 

Enhance student safety with Zscaler   

In working closely with our K-12 customers, we uncovered the need to intertwine cyber threat and data loss prevention with online student safety. The thinking is simple, yet innovative: utilize the inline visibility and control provided by Zscaler Internet Access to properly deploy and get the most value from online student safety measures. We took that thinking and designed a new approach to how we can help keep students safe online: catching harmful behavior early, providing teachers and counselors the information they need to intervene, and blocking harm from happening in the first place. 

Zscaler has the most comprehensive inline student safety detection, prevention, and reporting capabilities in the industry. Let’s see how it works. 

As a cloud-native proxy, Zscaler Internet Access sits inline between students, the internet, and apps, enabling schools to gain unmatched visibility and control over harmful online interactions. We bolstered our AI-powered detection capabilities to include a comprehensive dictionary of keywords and phrases commonly used in cyberbullying and self-harm, with support for multiple languages and slang. 

Detection is key, but prevention is the ultimate goal. When harmful interactions or searches are identified, schools can prevent the content from being sent, loaded, and/or received. In addition, schools can select and control the applications and websites that students can access. When any harmful content is identified or blocked, contextual alerts can be sent directly to a custom-set list of IT/Security admins, teachers, or counselors. 

With these alerts, schools are able to react quickly, armed with the information they need to make decisions about how to best handle the situation. We realize that technology alone cannot keep students safe, it must be an enabler for those who have dedicated their lives to making school a safe and productive environment for students. 

With these new features, we strive to keep students safe and provide educators what they need to be successful and make an impact.   

Zscaler + Saasyan: the world’s most powerful combination for online student safety 

As part of this announcement, we are excited to partner with Saasyan, a leading student-safety technology company, to bring K-12 schools the most powerful combination for online student safety available today. Saasyan has worked tirelessly to bring the most advanced AI/ML-based detection, reporting, and control to the online student safety market with their platform, Assure. Together, Zscaler Internet Access and Saasyan Assure provide K-12 schools: 

  • K-12 centric student safety detection. Using AI and dictionary-based matching techniques to determine if trigger words and phrases are being used in search engines, video titles, chat messages, and emails
  • Self-serve Reporting. Designed for ease-of-use by teachers, well-being professionals, IT, and other school staff with the context they need (i.e. student(s), website, search, and application)
  • Control and Classroom Management. Enables teachers and IT teams to quickly create rules that allow or deny specific web pages, web categories, or web applications for a class, a student, or several specific students

 

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