OpenDNS Leverages Position As "First Touchpoint" To Provide Proactive Enterprise Security

The Internet can be a scary place these days for big businesses, especially those running highly-regulated, mission-critical applications. The web has plenty of bad neighborhoods where malware, botnets and phishers wait in the shadows to attack innocents who have wandered astray.

Those dangers coupled with a mobile, global, cloud-based workplace in which employees no longer sit at their desktop behind a firewall means a security solution must do more than just attempt to clean up problems after they arise -- it must implement proactive measures to protect the enterprise, Jeff Samuels, OpenDNS chief marketing officer, told CRN.

OpenDNS was founded in 2005 as a more-or-less typical Domain Name System management service, one trying to lure consumers away from the telecoms providing them access to DNS servers. That initial product not only proved successful, but it also presented new opportunities for the company to start protecting its clients.

[Related: OpenDNS Launches Platform To Ease Security Management For MSPs ]

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’Staying ahead of attackers, that’s the Holy Grail for security,’ Samuels said.

OpenDNS, which provided its clients their first touch point to the Internet, first extended its offering by adding features like spelling correction and phishing protection.

’We’re at a point where we can block certain sites, so we started selling to enterprises just content filtering. We started putting in security at that level, blocking phishing sites,’ Samuels said.

Today, OpenDNS routs 2 percent of the world’s Internet traffic for more than 50 million users. That puts the company, which operates 24 data centers around the world, in a unique position.

’On the intelligence side, we built software and systems and classifiers and algorithms to score every public-facing thing on the internet,’ Samuels said. ’We see the whole Internet, so we have intelligence."

OpenDNS offers a cloud-based security service called Umbrella that delivers granular network security for remote workers and distributed offices.

The company this month expanded the service to leverage the power of its global network to protect all its clients. OpenDNS now monitors malicious traffic during early stages of online attacks and compares that traffic to activity across the entire network, providing intelligence about attackers and preemptively blocking network connections before they do damage.

OpenDNS logs attacks and scores sites on a scale from negative 100 to 100.

’Everything negative we will block. We won’t let our customers go to it,’ Samuels said.

OpenDNS has also built an extensive MSP distribution channel.

NEXT: MSP Uses OpenDNS To Protect Health-Care Providers

San Diego-based Centrex IT, an OpenDNS partner, services a number of enterprise clients in the healthcare, biotech and life sciences industries, acting as their IT department, according to President and CIO Eric Rockwell.

’We manage 4,000 users on all their devices. In healthcare and biotech you usually have more devices than people because of instrumentation on equipment in labs and exam rooms attached to PCs,’ he told CRN.

Security is paramount for those devices.

’We live in a highly regulated world,’ Rockwell said, adding that regulatory compliance requires Centrex customers to provide evidence they’re obeying strict security standards.

’Just having antivirus on desktops and email security isn’t good enough,’ Rockwell told CRN.

’OpenDNS is a big part of that security because it’s providing DNS-level security. All firewalls are blocked down and blocking DNS traffic except to OpenDNS,’ he said.

The OpenDNS agent often blocks access to problematic websites, or through its firewall configuration, and alerts the MSP if an employee inadvertently connected an infected computer to the company’s network.

’It’s really given us a proactive edge on a lot of these common security problems,’ Rockwell said.

Since Centrex expanded its use of OpenDNS, the company has seen a 70 percent decline in the number of troubleshooting, antivirus tickets it has fielded.

’That saves us time and money, saves our clients time and money. It’s a true win-win for everyone,’ Rockwell said.

’We don’t want to lock down the environment on the Internet, we want people to do stuff. OpenDNS allows us to give everyone freedom, but prevent them from getting into trouble. If someone clicks on a link in a spam email, it doesn’t go anywhere,’ Rockwell said.

And every time a security incident is blocked by OpenDNS, it sends an email to the Centrex ticketing and document-management system, logging the security incident for evidence to later show regulators, another time-saving feature.

’From a channel perspective, MSPs really love us. Once they deploy us, they don’t have to go out and clean computers anymore,’ Samuels said.