Frequently Asked Questions

    • How does ICAlert work?

      ICAlert monitors all the web traffic requests from all your users for attempted access to URLs known to contain illegal child abuse image content.

    • What is illegal content?

      Child Abuse Images or misnamed ‘Child pornography’ is the illegal content targeted by ICAlert.  The Protection of Children Act 1978 is the main act dealing with child sexual abuse content offences in England and Wales.

      It aims to prevent the exploitation of children from making indecent photographs of them; and to penalise the distribution, showing and advertisement of such indecent photographs.  In Scotland, indecent child photographs are also deemed illegal as described in Section 52 of the CGA 1982 (Civic Government (Scotland) Act).

    • What else does ICAlert do?

      ICAlert can provide additional network metrics which you may find useful and informative.

    • Is there anything else I need to think about before activating ICAlert?

      You may need to review your school policies in order for all children, staff and visitors to be informed of its operation and function. To support you in this, if your policy needs an update, we could suggest the following line is appended to your ‘Acceptable Use Policy’

      “The school / academy will monitor the use of ICT systems, devices and digital communications.”

      We have a range of template e-safety policies that are freely available for your use online at

    • What technical requirements are there?

      For most customers, you will be able to install the unit, plug it into your router and your network, and turn it on. But depending on your network setup some reconfiguration may be required.

      The main technical requirements are:

      • The unit requires 1U of space in your rack cabinet
      • It must sit near your router and network switch
      • The unit must be able to receive a DHCP assigned network address
      • Your firewall should enable the unit to communicate with the internet
      • If your network has a proxy, the address must be specified when you purchase the service so we can preconfigure the unit for you
      • All connections using the internet should be downstream of the ICAlert unit to enable it to monitor all traffic (See further technical information for details about aggregation/trunking/VLANs)

      It is likely that internet access will be lost whilst this is installed so we suggest the installation is conducted outside normal school hours.

      Read the full technical requirements specification here:

      View Full Technical Requirements

    • Are there any limitations to the device?

      The current device only supports T-Base 100 Ethernet, so using the device will limit your Internet connection to a maximum of 100MBps.

      The device is only able to analyse websites accessed using the http protocol, sites accessed with SSL/TLS (https) are not supported.

    • How do you install ICAlert?

      Once you receive your ICAlert unit, installation is simple:

      • Insert the unit into a spare 1U rack space
      • Unplug your network from your router and plug it into the unit
      • Connect the supplied RJ45 cable from the unit into router
      • Connect the unit to a power socket using the supplied adapter
    • What information does the ICAlert unit store?

      The ICAlert unit contains a list of web addresses deemed to be hosting illegal child abuse or terrorist content. Each item in the list is scrambled using a one-way hashing algorithm to prevent its contents being extracted.

      The unit analyses every URL that users on the network access, hashes them, and then compares that hash to the hashes in the list, if it matches an item in the list an alert is generated and sent to our service over an encrypted connection.

      No information about the URL's that are accessed on any alerts generated are stored on the unit.

    • What does ICAlert Monitor?

      ICAlert monitors all the webpage requests, looking for attempted access to illegal sites.  It does not record information or data once it has checked webpage requests. The IP address of the device requesting the webpage is included in the monitoring, no further personal information is gathered, assessed or recorded.

    • What happens when an alert is activated?

      When someone on your network visits one of the URL's on our list, the ICAlert unit sends the service a notification noting the date and time, which list the triggering URL was in, and the ID of the ICAlert unit.

      The notifications are received by specialists at SWGfL who will contact the nominated safeguarding person at your school to discuss the situation and identify a resolution plan.

      Our Police officers have extensive and unique experience in managing these situations and will work with you until the situation is resolved.

    • How many alerts will it generate?

      The websites containing known child abuse images change continually but are very specific; it is typically unusual to simply stumble across this content – it usually has to be sorted out.  As a result ‘false positives’ (ie an alert is activated as a result of accidental access) are unusual. Based on experience of undertaking the pilot school alerting programme since 2006.

    • How can I be certain that ICAlert is operating normally?

      ICAlert is provided as a managed service and you will be notified by email if the device is not operating or has been disconnected from your network.

      You can also login to your account to view the status of your device.

    • About the ICAlert Project

      SWGfL, and IWF under a Home Office regulated project, have been piloting this alerting capability (for illegal content) with its connected schools since 2006.  Over this period there have been a number of alerts; alerts that have led to successful prosecutions and the removal of potential threats to children and wider school communities.  Something that SWGfL is particularly proud of.  ICAlert now extends this alerting capability to any school

      The ICAlert device was first created in 2013 by the clever people at Plymouth University’s School of Computing to produce new technology that would look to identify and alert if a user within a school was seeking to access illegal online content.  In addition to the alerting capability, the project design principles and objectives include

      • Affordable unit
      • Easy and universal to install
      • Require no ongoing technical management
      • Secure all data contained within the unit
    • About the ICAlert Partners

      The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was established in 1996 by the internet industry to minimise the availability of child sexual abuse images online.  The IWF are contributing expertise and capability to the ICAlert project 

      SWGfL is an educational charity that has an international reputation with supporting schools with online safety.  It has developed extensive experience of managing this alerting process, having developed the capability under a Home Office and CEOP governed project since 2006.  SWGfL has seconded specialist police officers who manage the alerting process.

      Plymouth University School of Computing are providing the technical solution capability as well as the technical support