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Filtering Using Categories and Signatures

This article is for IT support and filtering administrators.

Signatures and Categories play a big part in how School Manager understands and filters the internet. You can use a combination of categories and signatures to create content filtering rules that meet your school’s specific needs.

Parent and child categories

Categories are collections of websites and signatures that are grouped together because they contain similar types of content. When you use School Manager to apply a content filtering rule to a category, all the websites and signatures in that category will be affected by the rule, including everything in all child categories.

Categories can have one or more child categories. Child categories break the parent category down into more specific topics to give you finer control over what you’re blocking and allowing. If you apply a rule to a child category, it will only apply to content in that child category. However, if you create a rule that applies to the parent category, it will apply to all of its child categories unless you create another rule to stop it from applying to them.

Signatures

A Signature is a pattern or fingerprint that School Manager can use to identify a specific website, service, or application. Not all sites and applications have a signature; signatures are usually only created for very popular sites and applications, or ones that need special treatment. However, every signature belongs to a category, and rules that affect this category may also apply to the signature.

Types of signatures

While all signatures are treated by the filter in the same way, there are three primary types:

Signature TypeDescription

Website

This is the most common signature type. A website signature is a web domain or subdomain. Applying a rule to a website signature will affect all URLs in that domain or subdomain.

Group

Group signatures are collections of all the things required for one specific signature to be blocked or unblocked. Group signatures are usually created when a website or application requires one or more commonly blocked sites and services, such as Facebook, to work.

Application

An application signature is a collection of all the websites, connections and ports needed to allow an application or service to connect to internet services on different types of devices. This is most commonly used for streaming services and multi-platform games like Fortnite, Among Us, Netflix or Amazon Prime.


Filtering using Categories and Signatures

You can create rules using different combinations of parent categories, child categories and signatures, and the rules will apply in the order that they’re listed in School Manager’s Filtering > Content Filtering page. This means that if you want to create an exception to a broader rule, the exception must appear before the broader rule.

Examples

For the following examples, we’ll be using the parent Business and Government category which has the child categories: Business, Financial Services, Home and Real Estate,  and Law and Government. The Financial Services child category also contains the Paypal application signature.

Allowing a parent category

You shouldn’t need to create any rules to allow a parent category like Business and Government. For most schools, the default position of School Manager is that content is allowed unless you have chosen to block it. If you have created a rule that blocks a parent category, deleting the rule will unblock it. However, if you wanted to be certain that this category of content is allowed, you could create an allow rule:

  1. Allow Business and Government

Tip: Locking an Allow Category rule stops any content in that category from being blocked by any block rule that isn't also locked.

Blocking a parent category

To block everything in the Business and Government category, you would create one rule: 

  1. Block Business and Government

This would block everything in the Business and Government Category and everything in its child categories (Business, Financial Services, Home and Real Estate, Law and Government).

Blocking only a child category

To block just the Financial Services child category, you would create one block rule:

  1. Block Financial Services

However, if you already have another rule which allows the Business and Government category, you will need to place the Block Financial Sevices rule above it in the content filter.

Blocking only a signature

To block just the Paypal signature, you would create one rule:

  1. Block Paypal

However, if you already have another rule which allows either the Financial Services the Business and Government categories, you will need to place the Block Paypal rule above them in the content filter.

Allowing a child category while blocking its parent

To allow the Financial Services child category while blocking all other Business and Government content, you need to create two rules: 

  1. Allow Financial Services 
  2. Block Business and Government. 

The Allow Financial Services rule must be listed before the Block Business and Government rule.

Allowing a signature but blocking its category

To allow the Paypal signature while blocking the Financial Services category, you would create two rules: 

  1. Allow Paypal
  2. Block Financial Services

The Allow Paypal rule must be listed before the Block Financial Services rule.

The same logic is true if you want to allow the Paypal signature but block all other Business and Government content. You would create two rules:

  1. Allow Paypal
  2. Block Business and Government

The Allow Paypal rule must be listed before the Block Business and Government rule.

Allowing a child category while blocking a signature

Finally, if you want to allow Financial Services while blocking Paypal and blocking all other Business and Government content, you would create three rules in this order:

  1. Block Paypal
  2. Allow Financial Services
  3. Block Business and Government

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out what category a site is in?

You can use the Signature/Category search to find out what category a site or signature is in.

Can a site or signature be in more than one category at a time?

No, sites, applications and signatures can only be assigned to one category at a time. However, if the site is assigned to a child category, rules that affect the parent category may affect the site as well.

How do sites and applications get added to categories and signatures?

Linewize adds sites to categories and creates new signatures in a few different ways.

  • Linewize Cyber Safety Team:
    Linewize has its own in-house team of cyber safety experts who proactively look at content and classify it, adding them to categories and creating signatures as needed.
  • Requests for Review:
    Linewize accepts requests for signature review and recategorization from our users. If you encounter content that you think is categorized incorrectly, please contact Linewize Support United States (844) 723-3932 | Australia 1300 687 052 | New Zealand 0800 445 206.
  • Partner Companies:
    Linewize works with partner companies whose core business is categorizing sites on the internet.

How do I change the category of a site or signature?

Contact  Linewize Support United States (844) 723-3932 | Australia 1300 687 052 | New Zealand 0800 445 206 with the details of the site or signature and request a review. However, Linewize does not guarantee that the site/signature’s category will change on review.

How do I create a signature?

Contact Linewize Support United States (844) 723-3932 | Australia 1300 687 052 | New Zealand 0800 445 206 with the details of the signature you want created. However, Linewize does not guarantee that the signature will be created.