The Benefits of Cisco OpenDNS

In August of last year, Cisco completed its acquisition of OpenDNS, and this was big news in the industry. More than 65 million users, including thousands of companies ranging from small businesses to the Fortune 500, count on OpenDNS for a safer and faster Internet. It’s not only the world’s most intelligent DNS but also the largest Internet-wide security network, delivering advanced security solutions ‘as a service’ via the cloud to any device.

DNS plays an essential role in today’s Internet experience.

DNS stands for “Domain Name System,” which is how domain names are translated into IP addresses so web browsers can find websites and send and receive emails.

Think of DNS as a sort of phonebook for the Web, but instead of phone numbers, the DNS indexes IP addresses. It makes the long strings of numbers that serve as authoritative addresses for websites easier to remember (i.e., for the IP address The DNS automatically looks up the IP address for the website the user wants to visit.

Before OpenDNS launched in 2005, most people simply used the IP translation service provided by their ISP or e-mail service. Today, more people rely on OpenDNS, which rather than operating as a profit center like ISPs, is focused on delivering the best possible DNS service in the world—without users having to buy any hardware or install any software. All it takes to start using it is to change the settings on your router and configure it to point to OpenDNS.

OpenDNS is more secure.

The key difference between DNS and OpenDNS is that the former can’t discriminate between good and bad IP addresses —between, for example, and a forged clone site that’s designed to steal users’ personal data.

OpenDNS not only detects the difference, it even gives users tools to earmark what sites are acceptable and which should be blocked. This filtering mechanism prevents contact with malware, phishing and botnets regardless of application, protocol or port, providing Internet users with better protection than ever before.

OpenDNS even offers paid levels of security service for home and business customers. Home users, for example, can take advantage of the parental control functionality, using custom block lists and category-powered filtering for their home Internet connection. It’s easy to implement, too. There’s no client software to install and no signature updates to bother with. And the control function can be used to monitor every device that could possibly be used to access the Internet at home, so kids won’t be able to bypass the filters with their own computers or hand-held devices.

The business level subscription takes security even further, providing advanced logs, web access control for employees, rigorous malware and botnet prevention options, and website blocking.

OpenDNS is faster.

Thanks to a feature known as Anycast routing technology, OpenDNS ensures users always connect to the nearest datacenter location—not one that’s far away—so web pages load faster. And since it has the most comprehensive and current DNS caches on the Internet today—arguably the single most up-to-date repository for where everything is on the Web—OpenDNS can usually address any IP request without having to “ask” other DNS servers, which also speeds up response time.

OpenDNS is super reliable.

A “self-healing” network, designed to withstand pretty much any disruption to the system’s infrastructure, delivers the most reliable DNS service out there, bar none. Also, OpenDNS sites are connected to regional networks, which helps isolate traffic to that particular geographic area. This means an issue occurring in one particular region won’t impact another. Each site employs multiple telecom carriers to ensure redundancy, and a large cluster of servers constantly works to balance loads and prevent outages.

The Anycast routing infrastructure also helps make OpenDNS more reliable. Having an IP address spread across multiple datacenter locations increases the system’s overall resiliency. If a natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstance causes equipment to fail at one datacenter, all DNS requests can be automatically rerouted to the nearest location.

What’s next for OpenDNS?

With its vast global reach, technical expertise and leading-edge technologies, Cisco is well poised to take OpenDNS even further—particularly in the area of cybersecurity. According to David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager of, Cisco Security Business Group, the company intends to use the technology to achieve its core mission of “delivering pervasive security capabilities from the cloud…to provide security everywhere across the extended network, from data center to the cloud to mobile devices.”

“By integrating the OpenDNS platform with Cisco’s security solutions,” says Goeckeler, “customers will receive greater network visibility and threat intelligence for cloud delivered protection against malicious websites and threats…protection that is unmatched in the industry.”

With Cisco OpenDNS, cybersecurity is about to enter a new realm of possibility. Stay tuned for what promises to be exciting developments.