New Plainfield Schools Websites to Fix Security Issues

The change is part of efforts to beef up online security following a 2012 breach that sent unauthorized emails to 23,000 job applicants.

There won't be big cosmetic changes to the District 202 website, but users can expect some updates and new functionality. Credit: screenshot, www.psd202.org
There won't be big cosmetic changes to the District 202 website, but users can expect some updates and new functionality. Credit: screenshot, www.psd202.org
Plainfield parents, it's time to update those bookmarks.

Late Wednesday, District 202 will unveil new websites. The home page, www.psd202.org, will get an update, along with all 30 individual school sites.

The change is part of efforts to strengthen network security, due in part to a breach that allowed a Joliet teen to send profane emails to 23,000 District 202 job applicants in 2012.

"It's part of the tool that allows us to fix these security issues," Director of Community Relations Tom Hernandez said, stressing the need to keep the sites secure.

"Security breaches happen," he said, pointing to the massive breach that affected 70 million Target customers. "We need to do everything we can to protect against that ... We needed a security solution that would help us try to avoid a major breach like we had 18 months ago."

The new websites are the result of 10 months of work with Blackboard, the new site host, aimed at working to improve communication between parents and teachers. Blackboard also provides the Connect-ED messaging service that has been used for years in District 202.

Previously, the district hosted the websites on its own servers. The deal with Blackboard will cost $99,504.94 for the first year and $86,204.94 per year for years two and three, Hernandez said.

For now, the appearance of the sites will remain largely unchanged, according to Hernandez.

"In the short-term, you will notice virtually no difference in the appearance or function of the new websites," he said in an email to parents and staff. "We have worked very hard ... to make sure that the new sites continue to look and work just like what our community is used to."

By next school year, District 202 teachers will have the ability to create their own personal websites. According to Hernandez, the change will also give parents more direct access to their kids' education experience.

While the home page, www.psd202.org, won't change, parents should update any favorites they have saved as bookmarks, including their school's home page. To do that, head to the District 202 main site, click on the page you're looking for, and re-save it.

Recent tech issues

The 2012 job site breach — which allowed a 14-year-old to gain access to an authorized District 202 account to send racist, profane messages to job hunters — isn't the only recent tech issue faced by District 202.

In November, the district had to temporarily block students from accessing Google. The ban came after Google made changes to its services that allowed students to access previously prohibited sites, including YouTube. According to the district, during the two weeks before the glitch was discovered, students watched a total of 247 hours of YouTube videos during instructional time.

District technology staff eventually found a way around the glitch, and restored student access to Google.

bob thompson January 16, 2014 at 08:25 PM
I'm curious how the new websites are going to 'fix' the 'security issues', when the issue was with their job application system. They're still using the same vendor for their job application system, so the issue is still present. Also, whoever made the switch failed to create a dns record for 'psd202.org', so it does not resolve. Only 'www.psd202.org' loads.
William January 17, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Maybe the next time a student sends Admin an e-mail telling them there is a security risk they"ll pay attention instead of ignoring him.


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