In Idaho, library content filtering is now mandatory. H.B.194, which was signed into law in April, requires llibraries in Idaho to implement a content filtering system by July 2020 that is capable of preventing minors from accessing objectionable content. Not only does that content filtering system need to prevent library computers from being used to access undesirable content, the content filter must also cover library WiFi networks.
The law change was introduced in to prevent children from accessing pornography on library computers, which various studies have shown can cause considerable harm. Without filters in place, children could access adult content or inadvertently see adult content on other users’ screens. There have been many reports in the media and on internet forums of library patrons catching glimpses of pornography being accessed in plain sight of others.
Some library directors and library boards are unhappy with the law change for two main reasons. The first concerns a potential violation of First Amendments rights. The American Civil Liberties Union has voiced its concerns, stating “Ultimately, blocking software prevents users from accessing a wide range of valuable information, including such topics as art, literature, women’s health, politics, religion and free speech, which is in direct violation of our First Amendment rights.”
The view that filtering means other content will also be blocked is outdated. While the overblocking of internet content was once a concern, modern internet content filters for libraries are much more advanced and allow highly granular control of internet content. Modern filters are also much better at categorizing content than they once were. Further, easy-to-use interfaces reduce the potential for user error setting the content controls.
The filters also prevent malware downloads and block access to phishing forms, which further enhances protection for users and protects library networks from malware and ransomware attacks.
The other main issue is one of cost. While libraries can obtain discounts under the e-rate program if they implement content filters to comply with the the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Idaho libraries otherwise have to cover the cost of the filtering controls themselves. No additional money has been made available.
Implementing Library Content Filtering for WiFi Networks is Easy
Little guidance has been provided on how libraries should implement the filters and there is confusion over how the filters can be applied to wired and WiFi networks.
Traditional filters require an appliance to be purchased which is costly. The appliance sits between the user and the internet and all traffic passes through that device and content controls are applied. This is problematic, especially when library devices are supplied for use off-site as all traffic must be hauled back to the appliance and then back to the device, which can result in significant latency (slow internet speeds).
A more cost-effective and trouble-free solution is a DNS-based filter. DNS-based filters apply filtering controls at the DNS level. No appliance needs to be purchased – which means a significant cost saving – and there is no latency. All the filtering takes place on the service provider’s server, not locally on an appliance device.
This system also allows filtering to take place on WiFi networks. Any device that connects to the WiFi network will only be able to access the filtered Internet service. Blocks can also be placed on anonymizer services to prevent filtering controls from being bypassed and DNS filtering can also be used to protect mobile devices, even those used off site.
TitanHQ’s content filtering solution for libraries – WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – not only incorporate highly granular controls to prevent overblocking of internet content, the solution requires no technical skill to operate, no hardware purchases are required, and no software downloads are necessary. WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are also low-cost content filtering solutions for libraries. Typical licensing costs are less than $1 per user per month.
If you are struggling to find a content filtering solution for your library, give the TitanHQ team a call. You will be able to have your questions answered about how to implement the solution, you can schedule a product demonstration to see how easy the solution is to operate, and can also take advantage of a free trial to see for yourself how precise the filtering controls are.
Benefits of WebTitan Cloud for Libraries
Create a family-friendly, safe and secure web browsing environment.
Block access to illegal content and pornography without blocking educational material
Block malicious websites and malware downloads
Accurately filter web content through 53 pre-set categories and up to 10 custom categories.
Filter by keyword and keyword score.
Inspect encrypted websites.
Filter content in 200 languages.
Apply time-based filtering controls.
Control bandwidth use.
Filter the Internet across multiple WiFi hotspots.
Manage access points through a single web-based administration panel.
Delegate management of access points.
Schedule and run reports on demand with real time-views of Internet activity and extensive drill down reporting.
Due to the high cost per user, many SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs) are looking for an OpenDNS alternative that provides the same or better protection at a much lower cost. At TitanHQ, we have the solution. We offer an advanced cloud-based web filtering solution that provides excellent protection from online threats with highly granular filtering for precision control over the types of web content that can be accessed by end users.
In this post we will explain why so many SMBs and MSPs have signed up for our OpenDNS alternative, and why WebTitan Cloud is, in general terms, a direct swap out for OpenDNS. However, first we should explain about OpenDNS and Cisco Umbrella as the two names are often used interchangeably.
What is Cisco Umbrella?
OpenDNS is a company that was founded on 2006 and provides domain name system resolution services and provides protection against Internet threats. OpenDNS was acquired by Cisco in August 2015. Under the terms of the $635 million acquisition, the OpenDNS name was retained for its free-to-use home solutions but Cisco re-branded the business and enterprise solutions as Cisco Umbrella. The reason the OpenDNS solution cannot be used by businesses is due to the limits placed on the number of users. Since there is a maximum number of users that can be protected, the business version – Cisco Umbrella – must be used.
The Cisco Umbrella business DNS filtering solutions, which this post covers, are not free services, but paid subscription services. These subscription services are available in three different packages. The most basic package: Cisco Umbrella DNS Security Essentials; the mid-range solution: DNS Security Advantage; and the top level solution: DNS Secure Internet Gateway.
OpenDNS Cost Per User
First, let us consider one of the most important reasons for seeking an OpenDNS alternative: Cost. Cisco’s OpenDNS business DNS filtering service is a popular choice with enterprises, SMBs, and MSPs for good reason. It is an accomplished web filtering solution but that comes at a price. At the time of writing, the OpenDNS cost per user is around $2.20 per month (based on 100 users). While that is a small price to pay for the level of protection that a web filter provides and the potential for productivity increases through careful content control, the cost adds up. For 100 users, that’s $220 per month and $2,640 per year.
WebTitan costs $0.90 per user, per month. That’s just $90 per month and only $1,080 per year. That provides a saving of $1,560 per year based on a 1-year subscription and the cost can be lowered further with a 3-year subscription.
Such a major cost saving makes WebTitan Cloud a very attractive OpenDNS alternative, but price isn’t everything and the lowest cost solutions are not always the best. In this case however, it is possible to save a small fortune without compromising security and control, while improving usability and gaining other important benefits.
A Direct Swap Out for OpenDNS That Will Save a Small Fortune
OpenDNS Cisco Umbrella and WebTitan are best-of-breed DNS-based web filtering solutions that combine advanced protection against malware, phishing, and other web-based threats. They also offer precision control for restricting access to certain types of online material.
Both solutions have been designed with the same core principles and both can be used to block downloads of file types commonly associated with malware and ransomware, such as .exe, .js, .scr, .dll and other executable file types.
To protect against phishing, both solutions support the use of blacklists – Lists of websites and IPs that have previously been identified as malicious or have a low trust score. These phishing web pages are often visited by end users after clicking embedded hyperlinks in emails. Both web filters therefore serve as an important additional layer of protection against phishing.
Both solutions allow filtering controls to be set for different users, at the individual, user group, department, or organization level via category-based filters, which makes it easy to quickly apply and enforce your acceptable Internet usage policies.
Both solutions offer a high level of protection, but for many SMBs and MSPs, the price of WebTitan is the deal clincher. However, there are several other benefits of WebTitan Cloud over OpenDNS.
WebTitan Cloud Advantages over OpenDNS
Some of the key advantages of WebTitan Cloud over OpenDNS are detailed below.
Certain types of businesses, such as MSPs, will be reluctant to direct users to an external cloud service. To meet the needs of those businesses, TitanHQ offers different hosting options. Typically, WebTitan is hosted within TitanHQ’s own environment, but it is also possible for the solution to be hosted locally to give users greater control and privacy or in a private cloud.
The WebTitan pricing model is perfectly transparent and all features are included in the price, including customer support at no additional cost. TitanHQ can also offer flexible licensing and can negotiate commercial arrangements that suit both parties. Pricing can be based on APs, IPs, or locations. For MSPs there are no monthly minimums, no yearly commitments, and the solution will grow and shrink with customers’ needs. OpenDNS Cisco Umbrella has a complex, multi-tiered pricing system with some of the advanced features only available as an add-on which further increases the cost. Customers also often end up paying for capacity that is not used.
World Class Support
All WebTitan Cloud users benefit from industry leading, world class support, including scalable pre-sales and technical support and sales & technical training. Support is provided for all users at no additional cost. Support is also provided to customers taking advantage of the free trial. Only email support is provided with the lowest tier of OpenDNS Umbrella unless the support package is upgraded at an additional cost. The speed at which support is provided by Cisco is a common complaint among its customers.
There will be times when organization-wide or individual filtering controls need to be bypassed. Rather than changing a policy for a particular user and then having to revert back to the original policy, TitanHQ developed bypass codes called cloud keys. These cloud keys can be used to temporarily bypass filtering policies. They can be set to expire after a certain time period or after a certain number of uses.
An Ideal OpenDNS Alternative for Managed Service Providers
The biggest exodus from OpenDNS to WebTitan is MSPs. As mentioned in the previous section, the ability to host WebTitan locally is a major benefit for many MSPs who prefer to host their solutions in their own private clouds.
As an additional benefit, WebTitan Cloud can be supplied in full white-label form and is completely re-brandable. The solution allows customized block pages to be created – these pages are displayed when a user attempts to visit a web page that contravenes company policies. The UI can also be re-branded and customized to include corporate branding. OpenDNS does not offer MSPs a white-label solution and cannot be re-branded.
TitanHQ also ensures WebTitan Cloud fits seamlessly into MSPs service stacks through the use of APIs and RMM integrations. The multi-tenant dashboard allows MSPs to keep clients separated and apply controls on an individual client basis and also to manage client settings in bulk. The APIs make it easy to integrate the solution into existing security and customer management systems.
The low price of our OpenDNS alternative allows MSPs to add web filtering to their existing security packages to better protect their customers while saving themselves a great deal of support time. TitanHQ also offers monthly billing and high margins for MSPs. With WebTitan it really is possible to make 100 points.
Feedback from MSP Clients
"When we decided to trial WebTitan we were happily surprised. Straightaway we dropped Cisco Umbrella and moved to WebTitan and it is impressing us every day. WebTitan easily integrated into Network Needs existing service stack, avoiding any delays in offering the service. There is comprehensive remote management and monitoring via an API. Any MSP will benefit from WebTitan’s many advantages" - Network Needs Technical Director, Ryan Lochhead.
"We looked at Cisco Umbrella last year and ended up going with WebTitan, I've been happy with it so far. It is cloud based, but make sure you install the VM appliance they offer for free to help it sync with your AD to show what user is accessing the content. The cost was a whole lot less than OpenDNS for the same functionality." - Chad1642, MSP, Spiceworks
"Comprehensive protection at a reasonable price. I really love the amount of options you have in protecting your network. There seems to be an almost endless granularity in filtering.
My clients have realized the potential of DNS Filtering services. The reporting has gotten more comprehensive. Our recurring revenue has increased because of this." - Capterra MSP
"The service is very intuitive and easy to use. I'm using it as an MSP provider and the integration with the API is simple, well documented and supported. Makes it much easier to use and offer it to our customers. Offering domain filtering services to my customers, and not having to develop it as a service of our company, made it economically better" - Wasserman MSP, Australia
How Do WebTitan and OpenDNS Compare?
One of the best ways to find out about how the two different solutions compare is to use independent software review sites such as G2 Crowd. The site includes more than 650,000 reviews from verified users. Those users consistently rate WebTitan Cloud higher than alternative web filtering solutions and across the 6 rating areas, WebTitan Cloud achieves higher ratings than OpenDNS Umbrella and is the highest rated solution out of all OpenDNS alternatives reviewed on the platform.
Over the next three months, TitanHQ will be travelling throughout Europe and the United States to meet with managed services providers (MSPs) at some of the biggest trade shows serving the MSP community.
The trade shows and conferences bring together the best MSPs from around the world and gives them the opportunity to learn about new industry trends, best practices, and proven tactics for increasing growth. The shows provide a tremendous opportunity for networking and bring together MSPs and companies offering MSP-focused cybersecurity solutions.
For the past 20 years, TitanHQ has been developing cybersecurity solutions for MSPs and the SMBs marketplace. From humble beginnings, the company has grown into a leading provider of cloud-based email security, web security, and email archiving solutions for MSPs. TitanHQ products have now been adopted by more than 7,500 businesses and 2,000 MSPs around the globe.
TitanHQ products are much loved by MSPs as they have been developed specifically to meet their needs. The solutions are quick and easy to implement and maintain and they save MSPs a considerable amount of support and engineering time by blocking email and web-based cyberattacks at source.
At these MSP events you will be able to find out more about the benefits of cloud-based spam filtering and the importance of adding web filtering to your service stack. The TitanHQ team will be on hand to answer questions about the products and will explain how the solutions can be seamlessly integrated into your client management platforms and how they can make your life easier and improve your bottom line.
Come and Meet the TitanHQ Team at these fall MSP Trade Shows and Conferences
September 17, 2019
The Alex Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
September 18, 2019
155 Bishopsgate, London, UK
October 6-10, 2019
Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, UAE
October 7-8, 2019
CompTIA EMEA Show
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge,
October 16-17, 2019
Canalys Cybersecurity Forum
SOFIA Barcelona, Spain
October 21-23, 2019
Palais des Congrès de Paris, Paris, France
October 30, 2019
MSH Summit North
Hilton Hotel, Manchester, UK
October 30, 2019
IT Nation Evolve (HTG 4)
Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida, USA
October 30, 2019
IT Nation Connect
Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida, USA
November 5-7, 2019
NH Collection Amsterdam Gran Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you are planning on attending any of the above events this fall, be sure to come and visit the TitanHQ team to discuss your options and feel free to reach out in advance of the event to arrange a meeting.
Rocco Donnino, Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, LinkedIn
Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
If you are unable to attend any of these exciting events, give the team a call for further product information, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free trial of SpamTitan, WebTitan, and ArcTitan.
Exploit kit activity may be at a fraction of the level of 2016 when peak activity was reached, but the threat has not gone away. In fact, the mid-year cybersecurity roundup from Trend Micro shows exploit kit activity is now triple the level of mid-2018. Websites hosting exploit kits still pose a significant threat to businesses.
Exploit kits are toolkits that contain exploits for vulnerabilities in popular software applications, such as Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash Player. When a user lands on a web page that hosts an exploit kit, it will scan the user’s browser for vulnerabilities. If an exploitable flaw is identified, malware is automatically downloaded and executed on the user’s device. In many cases, the downloading of a Trojan, ransomware, or other form of malware is not identified by the user.
Traffic is sent to exploit kits through malvertising – malicious advert – on high traffic websites. User’s can be directed to malicious websites through phishing emails, and it is also common for hackers to hijack high traffic websites and use them to host their exploit kit. That means users could visit a malicious website just through general web browsing.
There are several exploit kits currently in use such as Magnitude, Underminer, Fallout, Green Flash/Sundown, Rig, GrandSoft, and Lord. These exploit kits are pushing cryptocurrency miners and botnet loaders, although ransomware and banking Trojans are the most common payloads.
Many of the exploits used by these toolkits are for old vulnerabilities, but since businesses are often slow to apply patches, they still pose a major threat. Exploit kits such as GrandSoft and Rig are regularly updated and now host exploits for much more recently disclosed vulnerabilities.
One of the most recently identified campaigns has seen the threat actors behind Nemty ransomware team up with the operators of RIG to push their ransomware on businesses still using old, vulnerable versions of Internet Explorer.
A new exploit kit named Lord is being used to infect users with Eris ransomware. In this case, traffic is being directed to the exploit kit through malvertising on the PopCash ad network. The EK primarily uses exploits for flaws in Adobe Flash Player such as CVE-2018-15982.
Protecting against exploit kits is straightforward on paper. Businesses need to ensure that vulnerabilities are identified and patched promptly. If there are no vulnerabilities to exploit, no malware can be downloaded. Unfortunately, in practice things are not quite so simple. Many businesses are slow to patch or fail to apply patches on all devices in use.
Anti-spam software can help to reduce risk by blocking phishing emails containing links to exploit kits, but most of the traffic comes from search engines and malvertising, which anti-spam software will do nothing to block. To improve your defenses against exploit kits, drive-by downloads, and phishing websites, one of the best cybersecurity solutions to deploy is a DNS filtering solution.
A DNS filter allows businesses to carefully control the websites that employees can access when connected to the business’s wired and wireless networks. Controls can be set to block different types of web content such as gambling, gaming, and adult websites but crucially, the DNS filter also blocks all known malicious websites. DNS filters use blacklists of known malicious websites such as those hosting exploit kits or phishing forms. If a web site or web page is included in the blacklist, it will automatically be blocked. Websites are also scanned in real time to identify malicious content.
Since all filtering takes place at the DNS level, access to malicious or undesirable content is blocked without any content being downloaded. Setting up the solution is also quick and easy, as it only requires a change to the DNS record to point it to the service provider. No hardware is required and there is no need to download any software.
If you want to improve your defenses against malware, ransomware, botnets, and phishing and are not yet controlling the web content that your employees can access, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan. Alternatively, sign up for a free trial of the solution by clicking the image below.