Cisco Umbrella Alternative

The Cisco Umbrella DNS filtering solution is an accomplished product with many features that protect organizations against web-based attacks, but many Cisco customers have sought a Cisco Umbrella alternative have now made the switch to WebTitan Cloud. In this post we will explore why that is the case and will explain some of the benefits of changing the Umbrella DNS filter to WebTitan Cloud.

What is Cisco Umbrella?

So, what is Cisco Umbrella and why is the product used by SMBs and enterprises? Cisco Umbrella is a cloud-based security solution that started life as OpenDNS Umbrella. OpenDNS Umbrella was launched in 2012 to extend the OpenDNS DNS filtering solution to business users. The following year, OpenDNS launched the OpenDNS Investigate service, which provided information to customers on how websites were classified as safe or malicious and allowed more in-depth investigation of web-based threats. Cisco acquired OpenDNS in 2016 and rebranded the solution as Cisco Umbrella.

Today, Cisco Umbrella consists of a DNS-based web filter which is used to block access to malicious websites. As with all DNS-based web filters, blocking takes place at the DNS lookup stage of a web request before any content is downloaded. The solution provides full visibility into Internet access by employees and logs all activity and has virtually zero latency – Internet speed is unaffected.

In addition to blocking malware, ransomware, phishing, and other web-based threats, it is possible to carefully control the web content that can be accessed by users, on and off the network. Cisco also includes Umbrella Investigate and, depending on the package chosen, other cloud-based security features such as a cloud-delivered firewall.

Cisco Umbrella DNS Filtering and Internet Security Packages

Cisco Umbrella is sold as one of three packages, which were originally Umbrella Professional, Umbrella Insights, and Umbrella Platform. Recently, Cisco relaunched the product with a new set of packages. These are also split into three different packages, but the features of each have been rejigged, with new features added to some of the packages and some features removed.

The current offering is:

  • DNS Security Essentials
  • DNS Security Advantage
  • DNS Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials

Each package includes all the features of the previous package, with enhanced features added to the second and third tier versions of the product.

DNS Security Essentials is a basic DNS filtering solution that provides protection against online threats. With this version of Umbrella, you use blacklists of known malicious websites, can create your own blacklists, and can filter out certain types of web content by category (pornography, gambling, gaming, social media, etc.). It really is the most basic DNS filter you can get and, crucially, lacks SSL inspection. If a user visits a website with an SSL certificate – starts with HTTPS – you do not have visibility and cannot inspect traffic. Since most websites now have SSL certificates, this is a major disadvantage.

DNS Security Advantage provides a more comprehensive set of features and importantly, includes SSL inspection, but only for risky websites, not all traffic. SSL inspection will see the risky website traffic decrypted, inspected, then re-encrypted before being loaded. You also benefit from antivirus scans before access to the web resource is granted and you get the Cisco Investigate (formerly OpenDNS Investigate) features, allowing deeper investigation of threats.

DNS Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials is the most comprehensive cloud-based security solution from Cisco, which includes full SSL inspection of traffic prior to a connection being made to a website. This package includes URL filtering, allowing you to filter out websites by URL, you can sandbox suspicious activity, and it is possible to set individual policies for specific apps. This package also includes a cloud security broker that allows you to discover and block shadow IT and a cloud-delivered firewall.

Cisco Umbrella Licensing

Cisco Umbrella is a cloud-based service requiring a subscription for a fixed term of 1 or 3 years. Cisco Umbrella licensing is based on the number of users: 10-99 users; 100-249 users; 250-499 users; up to 10K+ users. The larger your company and the more users you need to protect, the lower the per user cost will be. The discounts on user numbers is considerable. For instance, the price for 2,500-4,999 users is around half the cost per user of the Cisco Umbrella price for 10-99 users. If you commit to a license term of 3-year term, you will get a 10% discount on the standard Cisco Umbrella price.

Regardless of the package, you will have to pay upfront. Cisco Umbrella licensing costs cannot be paid monthly, which is another reason why many businesses seek a Cisco Umbrella alternative.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing

If you want an up to date Cisco Umbrella price you must contact Cisco for a quote. Cisco Umbrella pricing is not included on the Cisco website, although you can get an idea of Cisco Umbrella pricing from reseller sites, although the prices are usually out of date. The cost is higher than OpenDNS Umbrella pricing, as the packages are different. OpenDNS umbrella pricing was increased when Cisco acquired OpenDNS and changed the packages to include more features.

Cisco Umbrella Cost

We have found Cisco Umbrella pricing details on reseller websites that was correct as of the end of 2019. The price of the basic DNS Security Essentials package for between 10-99 users was $36.72 per user, per year (not including support and extras) or $3.06 per user, per month. Those figures are for a 1-year license term. The price reduces by 10% if you take out a 3-year subscription.

Umbrella pricing has increased since then, but the above figures should give you an idea of the starting Cisco Umbrella price for comparison purposes. For the second and third tier products you can expect to pay considerably more.

You will also need to pay extra on top of the standard Cisco Umbrella price for enhanced support, software updates, and access to online learning resources.

Cisco Umbrella Ordering Guide

There is a Cisco Umbrella ordering guide produced by Cisco that clearly explains what you get in each of the packages. Cisco naturally pushes the most comprehensive version of the solution as this provides the greatest level of protection. The Cisco Umbrella ordering guide explains all the key features and helps organizations chose the version of the solution that is right for them and guides them into a free trial of the product.

It is important to note that the free trial is for the top-level version of the product, so you will need to bear this in mind when evaluating the solution. If you end up opting for one of the lower tier packages, there will be several features of the product that will no longer be available.

Cisco Umbrella Review

Cisco Umbrella is certainly a powerful Internet security solution with many features needed by large enterprises. The solution does what it says on the tin and it will block malware threats, the web-based component of phishing attacks, and command and control center callbacks. The Cisco Umbrella DNS filter can be configured to block access to certain types of web content and provides full visibility into an organization’s web activity. These features – as with all DNS-based filtering solutions – are provided with no latency and protect users on and off the network, no matter where they are located – home, office, travelling, coffee shops etc. Set up is a quick and easy process in most cases, although integrations with other security solutions will add to the setup time.

However, there are some issues with Cisco Umbrella. The top tier solution, Cisco DNS Secure Internet Gateway, has an extremely comprehensive range of features, but the other two packages lack key features that are present in many a Cisco Umbrella alternative. There will be gaps in the content that you can filter and inspect if you choose anything other than the top tier package.

The comprehensive range of features in the top-level package include many features that will never be used by many SMBs, so you may end up paying for those features unnecessarily. Then there is the issue of support. Basic support is provided in the price, but you will likely need to subscribe to the ‘Enhanced’ or ‘Premium’ support package to get the support you need and also for access to product training resources. If you look at virtually any Cisco Umbrella alternative you will find full support is included in the price.

If you find a Cisco Umbrella review online, one of the most common complaints is not how well the product performs but the cost of the solution. True, Cisco Umbrella is a powerful solution, but the Cisco Umbrella price is at the upper end of the spectrum for a DNS filter. You can easily find a Cisco Umbrella alternative for a fraction of the price which has all the important features needed by SMBs an MSPs.

How Does the Cisco Umbrella Price Compare with Other DNS Filtering Solutions?

As previously mentioned, the Cisco Umbrella price is at the top end of the price spectrum, so how does this compare to a Cisco Umbrella alternative such as WebTitan Cloud? You may be surprised to hear that WebTitan Cloud is, in many respects, a direct swap out for Cisco Umbrella and has some of the features of the top tier solution, such as full SSL inspection and all the features of the lowest tier Cisco product.

Instead of paying $3.58 for the basic Cisco package (plus support costs), you get an equivalent Cisco Umbrella alternative for as little as 90 cents per user, per month. For that price, you get the full WebTitan solution, industry leading customer support, free software updates, and free access to online learning resources.

WebTitan Cloud: An Ideal Cisco Umbrella Alternative for SMBs

WebTitan Cloud is an ideal Cisco Umbrella alternative that is suitable for most SMBs and ISPs. The solution provides protection from online threats such as phishing, exploit kits, and drive-by malware downloads. You can block downloads of certain file types associated with malware and unauthorized software programs, and the solution supports whitelisting and blacklisting.

WebTitan Cloud allows you to set tolerance thresholds and block by keyword, block web content by 53 categories of website, and you can also create your own custom categories.

You benefit from full SSL inspection, “On the Go” remote agents are included which cost extra with Umbrella, and WebTitan does not have the Safe Search issues often experienced by Umbrella customers.

Threat intelligence is fed into the platform from 650 million end users worldwide to ensure you are protected from the latest threats, with dual antivirus protection provided, real time updating, automatic software updates, free access to training resources, 5-star support, and monthly billing.

An Accomplished Cisco Umbrella Alternative That’s Better for MSPs

Cisco does offer a reseller program for MSPs, but that program is geared to MSPs serving mid-market enterprises. MSPs serving the SMB market would do far better with WebTitan Cloud. A great many MSPs have searched for a Cisco Umbrella alternative and after finding out the MSP benefits have made the switch to WebTitan Cloud.

Those benefits include the ability to host the solution locally in a private cloud, the solution can be supplied as a white label ready to take MSP branding, MSPs get dedicated support engineers, monthly billing, flexibility for account for changing seats numbers, and generous margins.

Try WebTitan Cloud Today Free of Charge

If you are already using the Cisco Umbrella DNS filtering solution and are considering a Cisco Umbrella alternative, or you are have yet to implement a DNS filtering solution to protect against web-based cyberattacks, give the WebTitan Cloud team a call today.

WebTitan Cloud is available on a free two week trial, during which you will be able to evaluate the full product in your own environment and discover how easy the solution is to set up, use, and maintain. During the free trial you will have access to industry leading technical support as if you were already a WebTitan customer. We do not anticipate you having any problems, but help is at hand if you do or if you have any questions about getting the most out of the product.