Alternative Umbrella: which DNS filter to choose as an alternative

Alternative Umbrella, what to choose and why

There are alternatives to the Cisco Umbrella that guarantee the same capacity for filtering navigation and blocking dangerous sites. Faster services, more precise, more economic and above all ones that guarantee punctual assistance and ample capacity of filter personalization.
Let’s see what Cisco Umbrella alternatives there are and investigate their strong points in comparison to this well-known security supplier.

1. What is the Cisco Umbrella

Let’s begin to investigate whilst remembering the history of the Cisco Umbrella and what this security supplier does as a service. Cisco Umbrella today is defined as a cloud-based security platform. Through a combination of DNS, IP and URL filters this solution blocks the access to dangerous sites.

Historically speaking, the Cisco Umbrella was born as OpenDNS in 2006 thanks to the developer David Ulevitch. The objective was that of offering a more safe and trustworthy Internet experience for private or even company use. In the beginning OpenDNS offered a free DNS service that exclusively offered faster and more trustworthy Internet connections that also protected you from Phishing. In 2015 Cisco Systems acquired OpenDNS and changed the product name to Cisco Umbrella. After the acquisition Cisco amplified the solution by adding other things such as the protection against Malware and Ransomware.

Cisco Umbrella blocks the access to dangerous websites, Phishing sites and other types of threats that are distributed on the web. It also offers protection against Malware and Ransomware by analysing the network traffic and identifying suspect activities. Plus it also offers an API for the integration with other security instruments which can be managed via a web console. Umbrella protects all the devices that are connected (laptop, smartphone and IoT devices).

To sum up, today the Cisco Umbrella is well noted on the market, even if it is not the most suitable and updated solution for all companies or even private users.

2. What limits does the Cisco Umbrella have

Cisco Umbrella, just like all the other security solutions, has its pros and cons. According to the reviews by company security advisors, of which some examples can be seen here, some of the disadvantages could be:

» Price. Cisco Umbrella is a service that is based on a subscription and is seen to be expensive in respect to other alternatives that are just as valid. Above all for companies with a high number of users and devices.
» Complexity. On the contrary, the smaller of medium sized businesses who do not have internal specialists can find it rather complex to configure and manage. For this it is fundamental to rely on a valid support, something which many companies have found lacking in Cisco.
» False positives. The Cisco Umbrella filters are based (exaggeratedly) on reputation. Because of this they could actually block ‘clean’ sites as well. This creates problems for the user whilst navigating as well as for the owners of the domains in question. Why should they have to waste their time in demonstrating that their sites are of ‘good nature’.
» Limited visibility. Just like many other DNS filters, Cisco Umbrella only delivers visibility to the traffic that is relative to the Internet, it is not capable of offering visibility to the internal traffic also. On the contrary to other DNS filters, it might not recognise other types of threats that are tied to the navigation.
» Personalization. Every company has different necessities, for this reason a good DNS filter system must be highly customizable. Reading the reviews of those who use it, Cisco Umbrella does not offer enough options for personalization for the rule of filtering and the configuration options are limited.

Well, when taking into consideration the limits that have manifested in Cisco Umbrella, for many companies, schools or public institutions, an alternative might be much better.

>> Are you an appliance producer? It is possible to natively integrate FlashStart? Contact us

3. What are the Cisco Umbrella alternatives

There are various alternatives to Cisco Umbrella that companies should take into consideration. When choosing it is fundamental to recognise specific needs, the best route to take is that in trusting a specialised partner who can definitely point out individual solutions that are best for you. Some of the options suggested by are:

» DNS Filter. This is considered the competitor par excellence to Cisco Umbrella, thanks above all to its marketing capacity. The moment that Cisco declared the termination of the OpenDNS contracts for the MSP (Managed Service Provider), DNSFilter jumped on the wave and pushed down hard on the pedal. The reviews, amongst other things, on Reddit indicate, that both have very important limits present: high costs and a lack of proper support.
» WebTitan. Another name that comes up often is WebTitan. The tariff plane is very simple and the solution is complete but according to some independent sites such as Techradar and Toolbox the WebTitan product has an interface that is too technical. Even if, WebTitan seems to be very appreciated by the PMI, it does require the support of an IT partner.
» Barracuda Web Security Gateway. We are talking about a complete security solution, something that in itself could be a limit. If it is true that, apart from Internet filters, it also offers protection against Malware and has other security functions, a company might not need such services and, therefore, cannot justify the cost. In any case, Barracuda Web Security Gateway offers a variety of functions and options of personalisation and can be integrated with other security instruments.
» Forcepoint Web Security. The Forcepoint one also is a cloud-based security solution that offers Internet filtering and protection against threats. It offers advanced functions such as web activity reporting and can be integrated with other security instruments. Those who reviewed it on considered it to be too expensive.
» FlashStart DNS Filter. FlashStart DNS Filter has over the last few years shot up the charts of DNS Filter solutions. Today it is present in over 150 countries throughout the world in roughly 12 thousand places such as companies, schools and public administrations and is dispensed, in a service form also, by 700 certified partners.

We will now list the characteristics that companies appreciate of FlashStart

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4. The distinctive characteristics of FlashStart DNS

The DNS filter from FlashStart guarantees companies, schools and institutions the functionality that should be asked of a filter for navigating the web:

» Frequest blacklist updates, the list which classifies which sites to avoid (FlashStart verifies 200 thousand new sites each day)
» A guarantee of low latency (the time that it takes between request and visualisation of a site)
» Ample personalisation possibilities of the filtering based on the specific needs of the company
» Vast categorization of damaging sites (FlashStart offers 90) and Geoblocking, a preventive block that is based on the origin of where the site resides, isolating countries that are considered dangerous
» The use of Artificial Intelligence for major quality of the blacklist to avoid false positives
» Easy to configure and manage (maybe even by delegating a certified partner from the producer, FlashStart works with 700 partners all over the world)

>> FlashStart is the competitive leader ? Request prices

Finally, the FlashStart DNS Filter integrates natively with Microsoft’s Active Directory for an even more immediate installation onto company networks. Also, it guarantees a worldwide LAN protection and end point roaming through the Anycast network.

In the words of the IT partners who have inserted it into their security offers, the FlashStart Filter has a very highly competitive price that is lower than many of the other security options that are on offer. The DNS Filter from FlashStart is essential for those smaller and medium sized businesses also, without adding useless components that only bump up the price. This is because, if you protect the navigation of your employees, you are already at a very good point.

You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.

Reading time 2 min
Valerio MarianiB2B IT Journalist & Digital content
I am dedicated to providing companies with in-depth analysis and high-quality digital content to help them remain competitive in the technology marketplace. I am here to provide clear insights and effective communication strategies for business success.

View all posts by Valerio Mariani

I am dedicated to providing companies with in-depth analysis and high-quality digital content to help them remain competitive in the technology marketplace. I am here to provide clear insights and effective communication strategies for business success.
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