OpenDNS and Cisco

Cisco recently acquired OpenDNS and its security offerings.

The Domain Name Service is a hierarchical lookup service that converts human readable names to IP addresses that are used for routing. As such the DNS lookup servers can see the names being accessed, their access trends, web security attack patterns such as phishing redirects and so on.

But how did OpenDNS come to focus on security ? It was preceded by a free DNS service called EveryDNS started by David Ulevitch in his college dorm in 2001. The free nature of it attracted an interesting clientele– a number of malicious services, sites and agents.  This gave EveryDNS visibility into this part of the internet – both the customer view and a real-time view. David realized the potential and started a new company OpenDNS with both a free+paid dns offering and a growing number of security services.

In 2012 OpenDNS offered an Umbrella service to blacklist malicious sites. The most interesting offering is its OpenDNS Security Graph. The Umbrella Security Graph maintains and automatically updates malware, botnet, phishing domain and IP blacklists. This is then sold to enterprises – a higher margin business than providing DNS lookup alone.

Verisign is also in the DNS security business after it sold its certificate business to Symantec.

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