OpenDNS Alternative

Organizations looking to cut costs often seek an OpenDNS alternative that provides a similar level of protection from web-based threats and allows content control, but at a much-reduced price. There are several accomplished DNS filtering solutions that can block web-based threats such as malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, without having to pay the premium cost of OpenDNS Umbrella.

What is Cisco OpenDNS?

OpenDNS was launched in 2006 to provide Domain Name System (DNS) resolution services. The company provided a free DNS filtering service for consumers and a licensed business solution called OpenDNS Umbrella. OpenDNS has now been acquired by Cisco and its business DNS filtering solutions have been improved with a range of extra features. The OpenDNS brand name has been retained for the consumer products, some of which are still free of charge for consumers; however, these Cisco OpenDNS solutions are not suitable for business use as there are restrictions on the number of users.

The OpenDNS Umbrella solutions for businesses have been enhanced by Cisco with the addition of a host of cloud-delivered security features. The business DNS filtering solutions are accomplished products, but the cost of OpenDNS Umbrella can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses. OpenDNS Umbrella pricing places the solutions at the top end of the price spectrum, and while the OpenDNS price can be justified by many enterprises, for SMBs with limited cybersecurity budgets the cost may be difficult to justify, especially considering an OpenDNS alternative for business use can be implemented for around a third of the cost.

OpenDNS Umbrella Pricing

OpenDNS Umbrella pricing is not particularly transparent. Cisco Umbrella pricing is not detailed on the website, so it is difficult to even compare the cost of the different Cisco packages. In order to perform an OpenDNS Umbrella price comparison you need to contact Cisco for a quote.

The three different packages of the Cisco DNS filtering solution are DNS Security Essentials, DNS Security Advantage, and DNS Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials. Each solution builds on the features of the previous package, adding new functions to provide greater protection from online threats. As a cloud-based service, the solutions protect all users, whether they are on or off the network.

OpenDNS Umbrella pricing is based on the package, the number of users, the contract term, and which, if any, additional services are added to the package. Additional extras are included in many OpenDNS alternatives. For instance, the standard price of Cisco Umbrella only includes basic level support. The ‘Enhanced’ support and ‘Premium’ support packages cost extra but may not in reality be optional for complex deployments requiring integrations with other solutions. These extras must also be factored into the cost.

While we do not have up to date prices, as of the start of 2020 the cost of the lowest level solution for 100 users was $3.58 per user, per month, with enhanced support adding to that price.

If you are looking for an OpenDNS alternative that provides excellent protection against online threats for users on and off the network, there are several OpenDNS alternatives which are available at a fraction of the cost. You may not get all of the features of the most comprehensive package such as a cloud security broker and cloud-delivered firewall, but you should be able to find an OpenDNS alternative that meets the needs of your business and delivers the protection you need at a much reduced cost.

OpenDNS Alternatives

One of the best ways to evaluate an OpenDNS alternative is to take advantage of a free trial. This will allow you to try out the product in your own environment and see how easy it is to use and how well it performs compared to Cisco OpenDNS Umbrella. If you have not yet implemented a DNS filter, you can also trial Cisco OpenDNS Umbrella, although the free trial is only available for the top-level product, SIG Essentials.

Features to look for in an OpenDNS alternative are an easy to use UI to save your IT team time when using the solution, one that allows quick inspection of traffic and supports fast remediation of issues. Full SSL decryption and inspection for all websites is important, as many malicious websites now have SSL certificates. To make the cost more manageable, you should be able to find an OpenDNS alternative that offers monthly billing.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) may find an OpenDNS alternative is much more suitable. OpenDNS Umbrella is focused on mid-market enterprises and the MSPs that serve that market. There are OpenDNS alternatives that offer MSP-friendly features such as the ability to host the solution locally in a private cloud, white label versions ready to take MSP branding, that allow API-based integration into backend systems and other security tools.

Some DNS filtering solutions worth considering when creating a DNS filter shortlist include:

  • TitanHQ – WebTitan Cloud
  • Webroot DNS
  • Citrix Secure Web Gateway
  • Sophos Secure Web Gateway
  • ZScaler Internet Access
  • Forcepoint Web Security
  • Barracuda Web Security Gateway
  • Infoblox Secure DNS


What is DNS web filtering?

DNS web filtering is a form of content control that works at the DNS lookup stage of a web request – where the URL entered into the browser is turned into an IP address to allow the web resource to be found. Filtering occurs at this stage before any content is downloaded. That is better for security and there is no latency with DNS web filtering – Internet speed will be unaffected.

Why should healthcare organizations filter the Internet?

The healthcare industry is targeted by threat actors seeking access to patient information, research data, and extortion. To counter those threats, a defense in depth strategy should be adopted, with multiple overlapping layers of security. A web filter is an important layer for protecting against web-based threats, malware infections, and phishing attacks.

How does a web filter protect against phishing attacks?

A web filter provides time-of-click protection against email phishing attacks. If a user clicks a link in an email, they will be prevented from visiting a known phishing website where credentials are harvested. Malicious online content can redirect users to phishing sites, and those attempted redirects will be blocked by a web filter.

How can a web filter block malware and ransomware downloads?

Web filtering solutions usually include threat intelligence feeds and will be automatically updated when new malicious websites are identified. Access to those websites will then be blocked. Many solutions also allow administrators to block downloads of certain file types, such as those associated with malware – executable files for example.

Is it possible to save on the cost of OpenDNS Umbrella without reducing protection?

OpenDNS Umbrella is a powerful solution with many security features suited to large organizations, especially the ‘DNS Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials’ package. If you are looking to save on the cost, you should evaluate the OpenDNS alternatives. The basic, OpenDNS ‘DNS Security Essentials’ package lacks many security features included with competitor products.

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