Web filtering is important for protecting users from web-based threats and for controlling what users can do online. There are many choices of web filtering solutions, including Cisco Umbrella. While the latter is popular, many businesses and organizations are now changing from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan.

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.

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.

Cisco Umbrella Licensing

In August 2019, Cisco Umbrella licensing was updated when major changes were made to the different Cisco Umbrella packages. Previously, Cisco Umbrella licensing was based on three packages called “Professional”, “Insights” and “Platform.”

The features available under each have been rejigged and new features have been incorporated into each of the new packages. They have also been renamed as Cisco Umbrella “DNS Security Essentials”, “DNS Security Advantage”, and “DNS Secure Internet Gateway”. Each tier includes all the features of the lower tiers with the range of features increasing with each package tier. The Cisco Umbrella licensing cost also increased to reflect the more comprehensive nature of the packages. As with many other DNS filtering solutions, licensing is based on the number of users and is purchased for a minimum term of one year.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing

Cisco Umbrella pricing is not provided on its website, so contact has to be made with the company to find out the Cisco Umbrella cost for each business. The cost is dependent on many different factors, including which of the three versions of Cisco Umbrella is required. Cisco Umbrella Pricing is also changeable depending how many users need to be protected, the length of term of the contract, and any add-ons that are required. For instance, the packages only include basic support and comprehensive support comes at an additional cost.

We cannot provide up to date Cisco Umbrella pricing for each of the packages; however, to give you an idea of the Cisco Umbrella cost for comparison purposes, the lowest cost package (prior to February 2020) was $4,296 per year for 100 users, which is $3.58 per user per month. Cisco Umbrella pricing for the more comprehensive packages will be significantly more.

There is no denying Cisco Umbrella is a comprehensive Internet security product – in particular the top-level Secure Internet Gateway package – but it is priced accordingly and will be surplus to requirements for many businesses. For general business use, a DNS filtering solution that provides an equivalent level of protection from Internet-based threats and can be used to control access to Internet content can be obtained at less than a third of the price of Cisco Umbrella.

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 TitanHQ team today 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.”