It's one of IT's biggest problems: How do you secure mobile workers? To comprehensively address that question, Net security and DNS provider OpenDNS announced Tuesday a new cloud-based security service for mobile workers.
Called Umbrella, the new service is designed for iPhones, iPads, Windows and Mac laptops, and is intended to offer granular network security for distributed offices, retail locations or Wi-Fi hotspots. Administrators utilize a cloud-based management dashboard, which allows them to define policies, provision devices, and view reports across users, sites, networks, groups, or devices.
DNS, Proxying, VPN
The service employs OpenDNS' Global Network, which has 50 million daily users and which the company said is the world's largest Net-wide security network. It has a dozen global data centers that OpenDNS said have had 100 percent uptime since the Network's inception in 2006. The DNS-based approach, according to the company's Web site, provides "enterprise-class Internet threat protection and Web filtering without impacting network resources or becoming a bottleneck for network traffic."
OpenDNS said that security vendors have not delivered solutions for the growing "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend in businesses because they have not embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, cloud services and the ramifications of a completely mobile workforce. The company said that appliance-based solutions diminish performance and increase latency by requiring a backhaul of traffic through corporate network-housed hardware.
By contrast, OpenDNS said, Umbrella improves performance through a combination of its Anycast DNS routing, selective proxying and encrypted VPN connections to the cloud, instead of routing back to the corporate network.
David Ulevitch, OpenDNS founder and CEO, said in a statement that Umbrella "perfectly illustrates our belief that Internet security can be as ubiquitous as connectivity, while still being simple, smart and lightweight." He added that the new service shows how companies can provide security everywhere, through a combination of "secure connections, unlimited performance, global threat intelligence, global visibility, and low total cost of ownership."
'Could Be a Panacea'
As a cloud-based solution, OpenDNS said that Umbrella can be deployed in minutes, without hardware setup or software installation, and it blocks inbound malware infections and outbound botnet communications.
Based on Active Directory users, devices, and groups, Umbrella also allows filtering that can be used to enforce access policies, such as determining when workers can access Facebook.
In the corporate blog, Ulevitch wrote this week that when users work from Starbucks, or use Google Apps, Dropbox, Box or Salesforce, "you've lost all visibility." He added that one could think of Umbrella as "a VPN to the cloud, with the ability to add security policies that you define."
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, said that "if companies can use this VPN-based technology," and if it's efficient, and if the dashboard interface is "simple and intuitive, it could be a panacea."