Cisco OpenDNS is a suite of Internet filtering solutions for personal use, ranging from the free “Family Shield” and “Home” services to the premium “Home VIP” and “Prosumer” services. Since the acquisition of OpenDNS in 2015, Cisco has also launched four Cisco OpenDNS for business packages.
When Cisco acquired OpenDNS, OpenDNS had recently combined all its enterprise services into one “Enterprise Umbrella” package. This was initially rebranded as the Cisco Enterprise Umbrella and then divided into three tiered packages to better suit the needs of customers. A further package was added in 2021 as Cisco moved into the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) market.
None of the four Cisco OpenDNS for business packages bears any resemblance to the former Enterprise Umbrella; and, although the Umbrella name still exists to describe the suite of packages, the concept behind the Umbrella name – “enable security everywhere so you can empower work anywhere” – is no longer automatically true as it depends on which package you subscribe to.
Cisco OpenDNS for Business Packages
Cisco OpenDNS Essentials
The “enable security everywhere” line is particularly dubious with regards to the Cisco OpenDNS Essentials package, as this entry level package does not support SSL decryption and inspection. Therefore, while the DNS filter will stop users visiting websites known to harbor malware, it won´t be able to read the content of encrypted websites set up since the filter´s database was last updated.
It is also the case that the Cisco Open DNS Essentials package does stop users visiting malicious websites even if the website or its content is flagged as malicious by Cisco´s threat intelligence service (“Talos”), Cisco´s Advanced Malware Protection data, or by a third party feed or anti-virus engine. So, to claim that Umbrella enables security everywhere is somewhat misleading.
Cisco OpenDNS Advantage
Businesses that upgrade from a DNS Essentials package to a DNS Advantage package are better protected against malware, ransomware, and phishing inasmuch as this Cisco OpenDNS for business package supports SSL decryption and inspection, will block malicious downloads identified by AV software, and prevent command and control callbacks bypassing the DNS filter.
However, this package lacks granularity inasmuch as businesses can only prevent users visiting websites by domain name, rather than URL. This limits how well businesses can apply acceptable use policies because it is necessary to block an entire website (i.e., www.washingtonpost.com/), rather than a section of a website (i.e. www.washingtonpost.com/sports/).
Cisco SIG Essentials
The Cisco Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials package used to be the Cisco OpenDNS for business “Platform” package which included everything a business needed for DNS filtering and Internet security. It has now been downgraded to a Tier 2 Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) product with optional add-ons replacing what was once included as standard.
While the optional add-ons give businesses more flexibility over the capabilities of the package to avoid paying for capabilities that will never be used, limitations still apply on capabilities that (for example) scan and remove malware from cloud storage apps or allow businesses to analyze suspicious files in relative safety of the Cisco Analytics Cloud.
Cisco SIG Advantage
The top-of-the-range Cisco OpenDNS for business package – Cisco SIG Advantage – was recognized as a “Challenger” in February 2022 by Gartner´s Magic Quadrant for SASE solutions despite having been released for only a year. Unfortunately, because review sites fail to isolate Cisco plans, it is impossible to determine what actual business users think about the package.
Additionally, although this package is among the best SASE solutions, it includes many capabilities that some businesses will be unable to take advantage of due to a lack of skills or because some of the package´s capabilities already exist in other security solutions used by the business (i.e. Microsoft Sentinel, Amazon Security Lake, Google Cloud Chronicle Security Operations, etc.).
Cisco OpenDNS Price for Businesses
One of the issues with Cisco OpenDNS for business is that the company does not advertise the prices of its packages on its website. Although it is possible to get an indication of the Cisco OpenDNS price for businesses by visiting resellers´ websites, you can never be quite certain that they are up-to-date or that they include the add-ons you may need to filter the Internet effectively.
Consequently, you can find prices ranging from $1.50 per user per month (DNS Essentials/25,000+ users/3-year license) to $5.57 per user per month (DNS Advantage/<100 users/1-year license). The Cisco OpenDNS price for businesses wishing to evaluate the two Secure Internet Gateway packages are usually advertised as “On Application” because of the mandatory and optional add-ons.
Cisco charges a mandatory customer service fee for onboarding and “enhanced” support and gives business the option to upgrade to “premium” support – which gives premium customers priority over customers that have paid for enhanced support. Additionally, extra costs apply if you want to view reports or apply policies by internal subnet, network device, or AD user(s).
These additional costs are generally calculated in the same way as the Cisco licensing costs – according to the number of seats, the length of subscription, the region, and whatever discount you can extract from Cisco or a reseller. Businesses should also be wary of “introductory offers” that generally tend to increase significantly when licenses are due for renewal.
It is important to be aware that any free trial offered by Cisco or a reseller is likely to involve a top-of-the-range solution. This makes it easier for the salesperson to come down in capabilities rather than reduce the Cisco OpenDNS price for businesses. It is also important to be aware that whatever price is quoted, this is usually for the full licensing cost being paid all upfront.
Conclusion: Why It May be Better to Look Elsewhere
The range of Cisco OpenDNS for business packages may appear comprehensive, but the entry level DNS Essentials package can leave gaps in cybersecurity defenses due to the lack of SSL inspection and decryption, while the DNS Advantage package lacks the granularity most businesses need to apply filtering policies and block/allow website access by URL.
The lack of pricing transparency should also be a concern for businesses – not just with regard to the licensing costs, but also in terms of mandatory customer support and dozens of other optional add-ons that appear unpriced in the package comparison or in the (very) small print at the end of the feature list. And these are just some of the reasons why it may be better to look elsewhere.
But where? One of the best places to look is the G2 comparison site. On this site, verified users rate different software solutions on a range of capabilities, and one of the best performing alternatives to Cisco OpenDNS for businesses is WebTitan. WebTitan outscores Cisco OpenDNS for businesses in every category bar two:
There is only one WebTitan package to choose from which – in terms of capabilities – falls within the Cisco DNS Advantage package and Cisco SIG Essentials package. In terms of price, WebTitan pricing is also subject to the number of seats and length of subscription, but the maximum price businesses will pay (in 2023) is $1.58 per user per month – and monthly payment options are available.
If you would like to find out more about WebTitan´s DNS filtering and Internet security capabilities, visit www.webtitan.com, where the opportunity exists to book an no-obligation demo, start a free trial, or speak with a member of the sales team to compare the capabilities of your current DNS filtering and Internet security capabilities against those of WebTitan.