Blocking wikis

My academic colleague, Dr. Jon Becker, and I are working on an online school law guide for NASSP. As part of that process, he and I put a list of topics to be covered up on a wiki for some of NASSP’s reviewers to see and comment upon. One of them said that her school district server didn’t like the wiki being hosted by wikispaces and posted a warning that it left the server more vulnerable to hackers. That sounded kind of goofy to me. Can someone explain to me how an externally-hosted wiki can increase a school district server’s vulnerability?

8 Responses to “Blocking wikis”

  1. Hi Scott,

    James from Wikispaces here – I can’t imagine how hosting a wiki with us would make a district’s computers vulnerable. We have worked with a number of districts who have website blocking software in place to ease their concerns about letting Wikispaces in. By all means drop us a note at help@wikispaces.com if there’s any way we can help in this case.

    Best,
    James

  2. Scott,

    I work for the U.S. Coast Guard which has taken computer security very seriously. Recently, the Department of Defense shut down some Web 2.0 tools, and the Coast Guard followed suit. From inside the Coast Guard Data Network they’ve blocked Google Documents and all web-based email (I’ve figured out a hack, for the time being) and social network sites and YouTube. Of note, they have not blocked any wiki sites such as Wikispaces and PBWiki. I think this is just a case of somebody getting truly paranoid.

  3. Glad to see you found my VCU page!

  4. Scott,

    It sounds to me like someone who “almost got it right”. Apparently he/she was told something by an IT person about something on their local network and he/she applied that knowledge inappropriately to your wiki.

    Brian B.

  5. Scott,

    Sounds like ignorance to me. I tire of hearing district level techs respond with “NO” without any explanation. While very rare, those people who believe, “networks would be perfect if nobody was on them, messing them up” need to be held accountable and explain when they place restrictions on use of technology.

  6. It’s called causation by ignorance. In other words, it can’t happen. Duh.

  7. But there is a problem in vulnerability, right? It just happens to be within the tech folks and the administrators, not the servers! Wikis, blogs, all the web-based stuff, threaten them because they can’t control or the content.

  8. It could be a danger if someone put a link to another site that uses a vulnerability in the browser to install software, but that’s a pretty big leap.

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