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Review: Umbrella by OpenDNS

umbrella-logo

Umbrella by OpenDNS is a cloud-based security service that has been built from the ground up with security in mind. The idea for Umbrella is that end users should be secure everywhere, without having to jump through hoops. With that in mind, OpenDNS developed Umbrella, which offers security to end users no matter where they are in the world, all without sacrificing speed or simplicity.

I have been testing Umbrella for the past several weeks now, and not only is Umbrella the easiest security solution I’ve ever configured, it also provides the least intrusive experience for the end user. Additionally, the local client software has a lightweight footprint, meaning it doesn’t affect device performance.  And with OpenDNS’ data centers all over the world, you can be sure you won’t have network latency or sluggish performance.

Policy & Security Settings

I found configuring policy and security settings to super simple, literally just a few clicks of the mouse. Umbrella policies make it easy to block specific kinds of websites such as social networking sites, pornography, etc, all by ticking a checkbox. The changes are made instantaneously throughout your network, meaning they go into effect as soon as you hit save.

When it came to security settings in Umbrella, configuring those was just as simple as policies, with a few checkboxes I was already on my way to securing the devices on my network. You can enable malware protection, botnet protection, phishing protection, and something called suspicious response protection which helps stop DNS rebinding attacks that could allow malicious scripts to access your internal network.

Umbrella is really flexible in terms of configuration too, you can have multiple policy and security settings depending upon device type or even device identity. And you can configure a custom allow and block list of your own. So if you want to block a particular category of sites but want to allow one specifically, you can do that with the allow list. I found that Umbrella’s security settings blocked a few of the IRC networks I hang out on (such as Freenode), and used the allow list so I could connect, while staying secure.

However, even if you don’t want to block any websites, simply using Umbrella for its security settings is still a great idea. In fact, in my tests, Umbrella protected me from visiting a dangerous site a few times. Instead of loading the potential malicious site, Umbrella throws up a landing page informing you that the site you’re trying to visit could be dangerous (see screenshot below).

Umbrella malware blocking

Provisioning Devices

Adding and provisioning users is also a breeze, for computers, just download the Umbrella software (Mac or Windows) and install it. That’s it, Umbrella then takes care of the rest. For mobile devices, enter in the email of the user and then have them download the app (iOS only, Android is coming) to their smartphone or tablet.

The only issue I’ve had with the Umbrella iOS app is that it can drain your battery if you leave it automatic mode. I hope that’s something that OpenDNS can continue to work on to fix, or at least provide some kind of recommended usage technique.

Umrella config

Umbrella Reports

Umbrella offers detailed reports including the top domains requested, the top identities, any malware queries, bonnet queries, activity volume, and an activity/threat comparison report. You can even view reports for individual identities.

Additional filtering for reports includes the ability to filter by date and response (allowed or blocked requests).

The reports will tell you who (the identity) that made the request and the IP of the device, as well as whether or not it’s an internal IP, which is especially great if a report shows someone has a lot of malware queries, you can tell where the queries originated as well as if they’ve made their way back onto your network.

Umbrella reports

Pricing

Currently, for 100 users, the pricing for Umbrella starts at $25/user per year and goes up to $40/user per year for the highest plan. However, pricing does fluctuate depending upon the number of users you plan to purchase.

If you need more than 100 users, you can contact OpenDNS via the contact form on the pricing page or give them a call.

As an aside for individuals, OpenDNS is looking into ways to offer the service to individuals as well, for example, if you wanted to purchase Umbrella for your home network.

Conclusion

Umbrella by OpenDNS is definitely the right step towards securing networks and devices. While it’s still a new product, I would definitely give it my recommendation, especially after speaking to OpenDNS founder and CEO, David Ulevitch, he has a good vision for the company and the product. This is the future of OpenDNS.

I look forward to seeing Umbrella continue to improve and offer even more features down the road.

— Jeff Weisbein

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.