Blocking nasty content has been a bugaboo for the Web since the first picture drifted through the ether. It got worse when YouTube videos flooded into children's devices.
Vinay Mahadik and Bharath Madhusudan were engineers at McAfee Software and Huawei-Symantec, software powerhouses that provide security software (such as programs for cleaning up computer viruses). As they and their extended families began to have children, the two engineers began to scrutinize how to protect children from unwanted content using the latest cloud-based techniques. Over the past decade,NetNanny has become a popular solution for parents at home. But the downloadable software was designed for parents at home--not schools--and has yet to cover iOS devices.
"The same problem parents have at home is amplified in the schools," says Madhusudan.
How it works: Secur.ly is licensed primarily to schools. It resides in the cloud so IT administrators do not need to download any software. It comes with a default policy about what to block although administrators can change those options. It provides different levels of privileges for students, teachers and administrative staff. When a child takes home a mobile device, parents opt to extend the Secur.ly software onto the device while it is at home. It also integrates with Google apps--which means that teachers can use their Google sign-on and ensure that those materials are filtered as well.
Who's using it: Secur.ly has tested its software in approximately 20 pilot schools and is currently working at least five charter schools. It has several paying customers, including AchievementFirst and the Milpitas Unified School district.
Business model: Secur.ly is selling its software directly to schools for $1,500 per year per school. Parents can sign up without charge to have the software cover mobile devices that children bring home from school. Eventually the company hopes to offer a purely commercial version that would likely have a subscription fee of less than $9 a month.
Competition: Some schools buy security devices to attach to their network for a fixed cost (which is spread across the device's lifespan of typically four years). Such devices might also involve additional subscription fees to stay current.
Check this out: Security may seem like a headache, but the company sums up its approach with a 2-minute demo video on its home page.
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