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OpenDNS Goes Mobile

New service an alternative to the VPN
OpenDNS founder and CEO David Ulevitch says his company over the past few years has become more of a security company than a pure DNS resolution service provider.

"We really deliver security, and DNS is one means of how we do it," Ulevitch says. His company's new Umbrella cloud-based security service for securing mobile users is all about that transition, he says. "Much of the solutions we are delivering with Umbrella has less to do with DNS itself. It's part of many foundations of technology" in the service, he says.

Ulevitch is pitching Umbrella as a potential replacement for the remote access VPN connection. "Instead of VPNing to headquarters, [mobile] users get a secure connection to the network to our data centers," he says. It's basically a retooled version of what used to be OpenDNS's Enterprise DNS service that adds support for mobile devices and roaming users.

OpenDNS last year rolled out the OpenDNS malware protection service as a way to detect and block bad IPs and to stop infected bots within an enterprise from "phoning home."

And this year, the company added OpenDNS Enterprise Insights service that provides IT visibility into which users, machines, or devices are infected.

OpenDNS boasts some 50 million active users per day, most of whom are consumers. Umbrella, meanwhile, is aimed at midsize enterprises looking to secure users who work with iPhones, iPads, and Windows and Mac laptops, in addition to the static office environments. (Support for Android is coming).

"We don't want to be overly invasive for home workers," so the service provides policy options for each user, and each mobile device gets a think client that connects to the closest Open DNS data center. "It walks and talks like a VPN," he says, but is more efficient and secure.

"Users increasingly are getting infected when they are off-net and then bring their device on-net and create a vector for infection" in the enterprise network, he says. But the Umbrella service is not a mobile device management tool, he says.

VPNs are still needed for protecting the "crown jewels" of corporate applications and databases for remote workers, he says.

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