If you subscribe to a Cisco Umbrella DNS filtering and Internet security service, it may be worth your while considering a change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan Cloud. In this post we explain some of the main benefits of changing from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan and illustrate this with an example from the education sector.
Cisco Umbrella has evolved from the former OpenDNS Enterprise service to a four-tiered DNS filtering and Internet security service. At the entry-level tier, businesses get a less-than-ideal service with basic web filtering capabilities that lack SSL decryption and inspection; while, at the top tier, businesses can find themselves paying for services they may never use or that are already present in other security solutions.
Selecting the right tier of service to best protect the business from web-borne threats and control Internet activity is not the only challenge. One of the reasons businesses change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan is a lack of transparency about the cost of Cisco Umbrella – notwithstanding that businesses not only have to pay the licensing fee, but also the cost of mandatory and optional add-ons to maximize the effectiveness of the service.
Cisco Umbrella Licensing
Like most software services, Cisco Umbrella licensing is via a subscription service. Terms are for one year or three years, and in most cases must be paid all upfront. The licensing cost does not include mandatory onboarding and technical support, while there is a further “optional add-on” for premium support if a business wants its calls to support to be prioritized. Basically, businesses have to pay twice to get a decent level of support from Cisco.
Other optional add-ons vary according to which tier is subscribed to – and some are not available in all tiers. For example, if you want to identify which internal IP address was responsible for a malware download, you have to subscribe to a secondary Cisco service. However, this option is not available to subscribers of the DNS Essentials tier. Other optional add-ons and limitations by tier are illustrated in the table below.
Cisco Umbrella Pricing
Cisco Umbrella pricing is variable depending on the number of users, the length of the subscription, the location of the business, and any discounts negotiated with Cisco directly or a reseller. Some resellers do advertise fixed-price Cisco Umbrella packages, but it is often not possible to tell whether or not the cost of mandatory onboarding and technical support is included – or what additional optional add-ons are included in the price.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that businesses pay from $2.20 per user per month for the ineffective DNS Essentials service, while the DNS Advantage service – which lacks granular block and allow lists – costs up to $5.50 per user per month. Nobody appears to be prepared to disclose what they are paying for the SIG Essentials or SIG Advantage tiers, or whether they are able to take advantage of all the services´ capabilities.
Why Change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan?
WebTitan is a fully featured, cloud-based DNS filtering and Internet security service that includes most of the capabilities of the DNS Advantage tier and some of the capabilities of the SIG Essentials tier. The capabilities not included in WebTitan Cloud are SecureX and Investigate threat response integration. This is because WebTitan Cloud updates its threat intelligence database in real time and include “zero-minute” protection against phishing URLs to mitigate the need for threat response.
Additionally, although the cost of WebTitan Cloud varies according to the number of users and length of subscription, the price you see is the price you pay. Customer support is included in the subscription cost, and there are no optional add-ons or the need to subscribe to a secondary service to take advantage of WebTitan´s capabilities. In terms of cost, the maximum a business will pay for WebTitan Cloud in 2023 is $1.58 per user per month. The option also exists for monthly payments.
Case Study Background
Web Filtering for Schools and Libraries and CIPA Compliance
Web filters are a requirement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA was enact by congress in 2000 and is concerned with protecting minors from harmful website content such as pornography. CIPA requires schools and libraries to implement an Internet safety policy that addresses the safety and security of minors online.
To comply with CIPA, measures must be introduced to block access to obscene content, child pornography, and other web content that is considered to be harmful to minors. Additionally, schools must educate minors about appropriate online behavior and monitor the online activities of minors.
While there are many choices of web filters for schools that can help them comply with CIPA, not all solutions are created equal. While it is usually easy to block access to harmful content, with some solutions monitoring user activity can be difficult and time consuming, and solutions as feature-rich and complex as Cisco Umbrella may be considered overfill for schools and libraries only looking to block access to obscene images.
Why Did Saint Joseph Seminary College Change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan?
There is no doubt that Cisco has developed a powerful web filtering solution in Umbrella that can offer protection from web-based threats and allow content control, but the solution is not without its drawbacks.
One of the main downsides is usability, especially monitoring the online activities of users, something that is particularly important for CIPA compliance. It was proving to be particularly difficult for Saint Joseph Seminary College, which needed to quickly identify attempts by students to access restricted content.
“I don’t need rounded corners and elegant fonts when I am trying to see who has been visiting dangerous websites. I need to clearly see domain names and internal IPs,” explained Saint Joseph Seminary College IT Director Todd Russell. “In my opinion, after Cisco bought OpenDNS, they made some major changes to the UI which made it virtually useless for quickly looking through blocked traffic for signs of particular types of usage.” The complexity of the user interface made the solution unpopular with IT staff and the complexity was jeopardizing security.
Ease of use was a major problem, but the troubles didn’t end there. There was also the issue of cost. “We found that once Cisco bought OpenDNS, they began upping the Umbrella pricing every year at renewal time. Despite the repeated price increases, the service was not improving and there was no additional value offered,” explained Russell.
Cost and usability issues prompted Russell to look for a Cisco Umbrella alternative. After assessing various Cisco Umbrella alternatives, the decision was taken to switch from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan. “It didn’t take long to realize that WebTitan was the best alternative for an efficient, cost-effective, and easy to use filtering solution to replace Cisco Umbrella,” explained Russell.
“I am able to quickly scan an entire previous day of blocked traffic and take a closer look at the full traffic on any users that raise a concern in a matter of minutes. This has saved me an enormous amount of time when I need to examine a user’s traffic, but it has also made it possible for me to keep close tabs on our traffic.” All the information required was accessible with just two clicks.
In terms of time savings gained from using WebTitan and the lower cost of running the solution, the college has been able to make significant cost savings as well as identify and remediate issues immediately, which means greater safety and security for students.
Are You Looking for an Alternative to Cisco Umbrella?
If you are currently using Cisco Umbrella and are frustrated with the interface and are unable to easily get the information you need, or if you are looking for a lower-cost alternative to Cisco Umbrella that will not jeopardize security, you have nothing to lose by evaluating WebTitan.
Contact the WebTitan team today via the links at the top of the page and you can arrange a product demonstration and set up a free trial of the full solution to see for yourself the difference it makes. In the words of Todd Russell, “That brief demo was all I needed to know that WebTitan would serve my needs much better than Umbrella and I have been thrilled with the improvements to my workflow since switching over.”