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OpenDNS Launches Cloud-Based Security Service To Protect Employees On-the-go

OpenDNS, the company best known for its DNS service that adds a level of security by monitoring domain name requests, has now launched a cloud-based security service to help protect users on iOS devices or Windows or Mac OS-based systems in any location.

Dubbed “Umbrella”, the service is marketed and operated through its own domain, www.umbrella.com, and helps protect users from malware, botnet and phishing threats regardless of location or device.

Umbrella for iOS ScreenshotUmbrella protects on-the-go workers while also providing granular network security for headquarters, distributed offices, home workers and Wi-Fi hotspots.

A cloud-based management dashboard allows administrators to define and manage policies and view reports across any number of networks, sites, users, groups and devices.

OpenDNS is more of a security company than many may think. The company’s OpenDNS Global Network currently serves 50 million users daily, and is able to collect vast amounts of data on where users are connecting to and what network requests are being made. Additionally, the company operates PhishTank, a crow-sourced “clearing house” that gives it a massive feed of Phishing attack reports. In addition to its own threat intelligence sources, the company partners with a number of other security firms to gather additional data and threat information.

While he wouldn’t share exactly who its security partners are, OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch, told SecurityWeek that the company currently works with about a dozen other security firms to receive feeds of additional threat data.

OpenDNS provisioned an account for SecurityWeek on Monday afternoon, and while not planned, we decided to take the service for a quick test. Although the test was by no means a full evaluation of the service, we were easily able to setup and install the Umbrella app for iOS on a third-generation iPad, and were up and running with the VPN fully installed and configured in less than 5 minutes. Experience-wise, the speed was impressive, with no noticeable performance issues, something that can often be an issue when using VPN solutions.

Review of Umbrealla by OpenDNSWe even ran a few tests using the SpeedTest.Net mobile app for iOS, which showed impressive throughput via multiple tests through multiple server locations. (See screenshot at right)

OpenDNS says the key to Umbrella’s performance is a combination of Anycast DNS routing, selective proxying and encrypted VPN connections to the cloud, rather than back to a company officer which can often create a network bottleneck and slowdown the connection making for an unpleasant user experience.

OpenDNS built the service from the ground up to secure people no matter where they work. In March 2012, the company hired the former Websense CTO Dan Hubbard who charged up much of the development behind Umbrella.

As a cloud service, Umbrella’s self-healing network ensures 100% uptime, the company said. Umbrella’s infrastructure is currently supported by 15 datacenters around the world, with another 5-6 scheduled to be added this year, and a “whole bunch more” coming next year, Ulevitch said.

Gabe DiSarro, IT Director for Coldwell Banker Prime Properties has been testing the Umbrella service at multiple locations, and has positive things to say about his experience so far. “We have a highly mobile, geographically distributed organization,” DiSarro explained. "Umbrella allows our people to leave the security of our company networks and stay protected in today’s world of rapidly evolving threats, without impacting performance. Umbrella enables us to effectively extend our secure computing environment out into the field."

Umbrella is available immediately from OpenDNS. At launch time, Umbrella supports iOS along with Windows and Mac OS systems, with an Android version in the works and set to be available soon, the company told SecurityWeek.

Pricing covers multiple devices per user for low total cost of ownership and high scalability, with plans ranging from $20 - $40 per user, per year.

More information is available at Umbrella.Com.

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.