Cybersecurity threats are growing more dangerous by the day. From ransomware attacks to spyware and phishing campaigns, businesses today face an uphill battle when it comes to protecting their networks and data. This is why having robust cyber defenses in place is no longer optional – it‘s a necessity.
As a technology expert with over 5 years of experience in the IT security domain, I highly recommend implementing DNS filtering as a critical component of your defense stack.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know about DNS filtering and help you choose the right solution for your business needs.
So grab a coffee and let‘s get started!
What is DNS Filtering and Why Does Your Business Need it?
DNS stands for Domain Name System – it‘s like the phonebook of the internet, converting domain names into IP addresses.
DNS filtering utilizes this process to block cyber threats and restrict access to inappropriate or unproductive websites before any connection is made.
According to recent surveys, 76% of businesses reported an increase in cyber attacks over the past year. The average cost of a data breach now stands at a whopping $4.24 million!
This is where DNS filtering comes in. By preventing malware, phishing scams, botnets and other threats from infiltrating your network in the first place, DNS filtering drastically reduces the chances of a successful breach.
It‘s a must-have first line of defense for securing your online assets in today‘s threat landscape.
How Does DNS Filtering Work?
When you enter a website address into your browser, a DNS lookup converts the domain name into its IP address behind the scenes.
A DNS filter inspects each query and blocks traffic to domains identified as malicious or unapproved by your policies. Only safe traffic is allowed through.
It categorizes websites into groups like social media, gambling, porn etc. You can then configure policies to restrict entire unwanted categories. If an employee tries accessing a blocked site, they‘ll get an error showing the content is inaccessible.
This whole process happens in milliseconds, so web pages load without noticeable slowdowns while your network remains secure. Pretty cool, right?
What Are the Benefits of DNS Filtering for Business?
Business networks have reaped many rewards by deploying DNS filtering solutions:
Blocks cyberthreats – Prevents malware, ransomware, phishing and other cyberattacks from infecting your network by blocking access to malicious websites.
Increases productivity – Restricts time-wasting websites like social media, gaming sites and entertainment platforms so employees stay focused on work.
Enforces internet usage policies – Category-based filters allow controlling what type of content employees can access. HR can implement acceptable usage guidelines.
Reduces bandwidth costs – Blocking bandwidth heavy sites like Netflix helps reduce network congestion and internet expenses.
Mobile device management – Extends filtering protection to BYOD and remote devices outside the office premises.
Regulatory compliance – Schools and libraries use DNS filtering to comply with CIPA regulations around children‘s internet access.
According to Cisco‘s 2022 Security Outcomes Study, 45% of businesses say DNS filtering tools have provided extremely effective protection. 72% of respondents plan to increase spending on DNS security over the next year.
Clearly, organizations are recognizing the value of DNS filtering for both security and operational gains.
Choosing the Right DNS Filtering Solution: 7 Factors to Consider
With a wide variety of solutions available, it‘s important to assess your specific requirements before choosing a DNS filtering tool.
Here are 7 key factors I recommend evaluating:
1. Filtering database – The category and domain databases should be comprehensive and frequently updated to identify threats accurately. Look for 80+ categories and millions of sites.
2. Customization – Ability to create custom allow/block lists and granular policies based on parameters like user, device, URL, keywords etc.
3. Protocols supported – IPv6, DoH, and DoT compatibility provides better future-proofing as the internet evolves.
4. Speed and uptime – Solution should have fast DNS lookup time and global resilient DNS servers for max uptime.
5. Reporting – Usage reports and query logs allow monitoring employee activity and identifying security incidents.
6. Platform support – Protection across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android devices, routers etc. for complete coverage.
7. Price – Consider one-time or recurring subscription costs relative to your budget and needs.
I always advise businesses to test solutions on-site through free trials or proofs-of-concepts before purchasing. This allows evaluating effectiveness for your specific environment.
Now let‘s look at the top DNS filtering solutions I recommend based on my extensive product testing and advisory experience.
The Top 9 DNS Filtering Solutions for Business (2022 Review)
1. Cisco Umbrella
The market leader in enterprise DNS security, Cisco Umbrella earns top marks for threat protection and performance. It blocks requests to malicious domains identified by Cisco Talos, one of the largest threat intelligence teams worldwide.
Umbrella enforces policies using over 80 content categories with flexibility to allow or block by domain. For example, clients can restrict social media access during work hours only to boost productivity.
It generates rich analytics reports showing top users, devices, and destinations. With data centers distributed globally, Umbrella delivers blazing fast DNS resolution in under 20 ms.
Pricing: Enterprise tier starts at $8.25 per user/month billed annually.
Ideal for: Large enterprises seeking enterprise-grade DNS security and flexible controls.
WebTitan Cloud is optimized for SMBs, offering robust DNS-based filtering in a user-friendly platform. Setup only takes a few minutes by pointing DNS to WebTitan‘s servers.
The solution blocks categories like pornography, illegal activities, gambling and violence. Custom block pages can be configured.
WebTitan integrates with Active Directory, making it easy to apply policies based on users and groups. It generates reports with 50+ insights like top blocked sites, infected devices and flagged keywords.
Pricing: Starts at $2.99 per user/month billed annually.
Ideal for: Small businesses that want DNS filtering at an affordable rate.
Trusted by leading enterprises like NVIDIA, DNSFilter secures networks from 80 million+ threats across 53 malware categories. AI and machine learning allow identifying new attack patterns rapidly.
Policies can be finely customized based on location, user, device type, and time of day. For example, restrict social media to office Wi-Fi between 4 to 6 PM daily.
DNSFilter offers real-time alerts for suspicious traffic and activity reports for audits. The global anycast network delivers fastest DNS resolution under 30ms.
Pricing: Starts at $1.99 per user/month billed annually.
Ideal for: Medium and large businesses that prioritize cutting-edge threat prevention.
Securly makes it easy for K-12 schools to filter the internet in compliance with CIPA regulations. Once setup, it automatically blocks adult content, malware domains and illegal file sharing sites.
Teachers and staff can whitelist educational sites. Unique to Securly are AI-powered filters that detect early signs of self-harm, violence, drug use and cyberbullying based on students‘ social media activity.
The solution generates web filtering reports highlighting high-risk students in need of counseling. It also provides training resources to educate children on online safety.
Pricing: Basic filtering plan starts at $2 per student/month billed annually.
Ideal for: K-12 schools prioritizing student online safety and CIPA compliance.
CleanBrowsing is a free DNS server that blocks adult content, malware and phishing sites. It handles over 3 billion queries daily to keep families protected.
For schools and businesses, CleanBrowsing offers a Security Plus package. This blocks an additional 10 categories including proxies, violence, hate speech, spam etc.
An enterprise tier with más analytics is also available. CleanBrowsing enforces SafeSearch on Google, Bing and YouTube for students‘ safety.
Pricing: Free for home use. Security Plus is $24 per year for up to 100 accounts. Enterprise tier starts at $150 per year.
Ideal for: K-12 networks that need basic DNS filtering on a tight budget.
6. Infoblox BloxOne
Infoblox BloxOne Threat Defense combines advanced DNS security with DoH, DoT and DHCP protection. Integrated threat intelligence blocks newly-identified malware and phishing sites.
The solution allows creating policies to filter web activity on-network or remotely. It shares allowed/blocked domains with next-gen firewalls to bolster defenses.
BloxOne Threat Defense prevents DNS tunneling, infrastructure attacks and data exfiltration through DNS. Detailed logging and analytics provide visibility.
Pricing: Contact Infoblox sales for enterprise pricing.
Ideal for: Highly secure organizations like finance, healthcare and government.
Forcepoint Web Security cloud is ideal for regulated sectors like healthcare and banking. Granular policies control web activity based on risk levels.
It scans traffic on all ports and protocols using integrated proxies, blocking threats across all vectors. URL filtering, malware analysis and data loss prevention provide multilayered security.
Forcepoint inspects SSL/TLS traffic for hidden attacks and data exfiltration. Real-time analytics offer deep insights into usage patterns.
Pricing: Contact Forcepoint sales for enterprise pricing.
Ideal for: Highly regulated organizations that require maximum security controls and visibility.
Zscaler Internet Access offers secure web gateway functionality as a cloud service. It inspects all ports and protocols, blocking threats before they reach the network perimeter.
Integrated URL filtering allows restricting websites by category based on risk profiles. Advanced protections like sandboxing and behavioural analysis boost malware catch rates.
Zscaler supports dynamic policies aligned to users, groups, locations etc. Chart and report builder provide insights into usage and threats.
Pricing: Contact Zscaler sales for enterprise pricing.
Ideal for: Large enterprises transitioning to the cloud that want security without hardware.
9. Emerge Trends Shield
EMERGE is a unified platform for threat prevention and DNS security designed for MSPs. Multi-layered protections block exploit kits, C2 domains, phishing and ransomware.
MSPs can deploy protection for any number of client networks via the cloud-hosted control panel. Flexible filtering options allow setting content controls by location or user group.
AI algorithms analyze traffic patterns to uncover zero-day attacks. Real-time analytics provide actionable security insights for MSPs and their clients.
Pricing: Contact Emerge Trends sales for MSP pricing.
Ideal for: MSPs who want to add DNS filtering into the security services for SMB clients.
Evaluating Your DNS Filtering Options
Hopefully by now you have a clear overview of the DNS filtering landscape and top solutions available. But how do you pick the right one for your needs? Here are my recommendations:
Large enterprises with distributed locations should consider Cisco Umbrella or Infoblox BloxOne for their sophisticated threat intelligence and flexible policy controls.
SMBs on a tight budget can opt for reasonably priced solutions like WebTitan, DNSFilter or CleanBrowsing to get good coverage at a low cost.
Educational institutions like K-12 schools should look at purpose-built solutions like Securly or even the free CleanBrowsing tier to comply with CIPA regulations.
Heavily regulated organizations in finance or healthcare may prefer Forcepoint for its advanced protections, SSL/TLS inspection and role-based policies.
I suggest starting with a free trial to test effectiveness before purchasing a longer subscription. Feel free to reach out if you need any guidance!
The Bottom Line
The expanding digital threat landscape makes DNS filtering a must for securing your corporate network and protecting your employees. It acts as the first security checkpoint that blocks cyber attacks before they reach you.
The solutions covered in this guide offer robust threat prevention and granular website filtering capabilities for organizations of all sizes. Carefully evaluate your requirements and risk profile before choosing the right fit.
With the proper DNS filtering solution in place, you can rest easy knowing your business is safe from constantly evolving online dangers!
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