Businesses today face advanced, targeted threats, coming from the internet. Sophisticated attacks like ransomware and phishing threaten organizations of all sizes, and it’s more important than ever for enterprises to have strong protections in place to protect employees and data.
Domain Name System Filtering (DNS Filtering) is a way to stop these threats, by blocking access to harmful websites, webpages or IP Addresses. DNSFilter is a leading vendor in the DNS Filtering space, offering protection powered by machine learning, designed and delivered with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in mind.
Expert Insights met with Rustin Banks, Chief Revenue Officer at DNS Filter, to discuss the platform and how they are innovating in the DNS market.
Banks’ is a technology entrepreneur, and previously founded TapInfluence, an innovative platform that automated influencer marketing for business. TapInfluence was acquired last year, and Banks joined DNSFilter to build out their sales and marketing opportunities.
How the DNSFilter Journey Began
DNSFilter had a unique start in the DNSFilter market.
“It was the story and the market and the product that actually attracted me to the company,” Banks explains. “10 years ago, we were an MSP, doing wireless for large hotels and apartment buildings, and a common problem across all our customers was they needed DNS-based threat protection and filtering.”
To solve this problem, DNSFilter started reselling OpenDNS, a solution that would later be purchased by Cisco and become rebranded as Cisco Umbrella, one of the global market leading DNS filtering solutions.
“We loved OpenDNS!” Banks says. “Because previously, before OpenDNS, you had to use firewalls, and they were slow, and a pain to maintain. OpenDNS made things much easier and faster.”
“Then, in 2015, Cisco acquired OpenDNS, and immediately,
three things happened.”
“First of all, they gave us a bill that was three times what it used to be. Secondly, we felt that the product stagnated. Finally, we tried to get hold of someone from sales to talk about the bill, and we couldn’t get a hold of anyone!”
Facing these challenges, DNSFilter decided to put their
technical team of network and software engineers to work building their own DNS
filtering solution, with a focus on utilizing machine learning and artificial
intelligence to build a faster, and more secure, DNS platform.
In 2018, DNSFilter merged with WebShrinker, an AI and
machine learning based threat and domain intelligence platform, to leverage
their AI capabilities for content filtering.
“That merger gave us the ability to do threat protection and categorization in real time, versus Cisco and some others, where it takes them days, sometimes weeks, to identify threats,” Banks says.
Designed by MSPs, For MSPs
Banks says that because DNSFilter started out as an MSP themselves, they were able to build the product specifically with MSPs in mind, with all the features and functionality they need.
“Because we were an MSP, when building the platform, we knew
what MSPs needed,” Banks says. “MSPs need the ability to white label, they need
a multi-tenant interface, they need to be able to break out reporting and
billing by clients, and they need help selling to customers.”
DNSFilter used their MSP background to build a product that
works for MSPs and SMBs, Banks says, but the product is also used by bigger enterprise
“We’ve closed two Fortune 500 companies,” Banks says, “So it’s a fit for them as well.”
The Importance of Web and Content Filtering
Banks argues that DNS filtering is important because the
idea of businesses being able to establish a security perimeter with firewalls
People now work remotely and use mobile work devices inside
and outside the office all the time, so using location based protection for
your office alone is no longer enough. The question for businesses then, is how
do you protect those devices when they leave your network?
“The nice thing about DNS-based filtering is that with the flip of a switch, you can protect your network, and you can install it in literally seconds by changing your default DNS,” Banks says. “You can also install a client on the device itself, and then it’s protected no matter where it goes.”
The goal is to block threats before they ever make it to the system by blocking users from visiting pages that would download malware, and by blocking users from visiting phishing websites.
“DNS filtering is all about security,” Banks says. “It’s about blocking 99% of threats before they would ever reach your network.”
What sets DNSFilter’s Technology Apart
DNSFilter is in a competitive market segment, with strong
competition in vendors like Cisco and TitanHQ.
Banks argues that what sets DNSFilter apart is the way they
have utilized machine learning and artificial intelligence in their security
“Our ability to categorize and find threats is our biggest
differentiator versus other vendors,” Banks says. “DNSFilter blocks 50% more
verified threats than any other vendor, and we discover them 24 hours before
You can view the research around the speeds of different
vendors published here: https://www.dnsperf.com/#!dns-resolvers
Banks argues the speed of DNS protection is crucial. “If it’s
not fast, it slows down your network,” he says. “That’s the other nice thing
about switching from firewalls to DNS – it’s fast. Your default ISP has a 65
millisecond response time, when you switch to DNSFilter, you get a 15
millisecond response time.”
“You’re getting a faster and better internet experience for your users, which means enhanced productivity.”
Stopping Phishing Attacks
DNSFilter is a popular solution with its customers, and one
of the key areas that often impresses customers is their ability to detect and
block phishing websites.
Banks argues that this is a core strength of their service,
and it demonstrates the advantage of their real-time AI algorithms.
A common phishing scenario involves an attacker
impersonating an employee, and sending an invoice to someone within the
organization with a link to a wire transfer that looks like a legitimate
“This is a worse-case scenario,” Banks says. “Somebody has
set up a brand new domain, it looks like your bank’s domain, and it’s just
targeting you, so nobody’ ever seen it before.”
Using their AI and machine learning content scanning, DNSFilter
would be able to the domain has not been categorized before, across their
billion domain requests.
Their system would then stop the page from loading, and scan
the page for threats, using machine learning to pick up things like logos being
used on non-approved sites.
Using these machine learning algorithms, DNSFilter is able to tell a fake website from a real website, even if it’s never been seen before. If the site is identified as malicious, DNSFilter will block it, in real time.
Considering a DNS Filtering Solution?
If you’re considering a DNS Filtering solution, Banks suggests you start a free trial and use the product yourself.
“The great thing is we offer a free trial, so my advice is to set up a trial and get started,” he says. “We don’t bug you; we don’t harass you, and it’s fully functioning. You can install roaming clients, and you can put it to the test!”
“Don’t be shy, start a trial. You have nothing to lose and potential margin to gain.”
Thanks to Rustin Banks for joining us for this interview. If
you’re interested in finding out more about DNSFilter, you can read verified
user reviews of the service here: https://www.expertinsights.com/reviews/dnsfilter
or visit https://www.dnsfilter.com/
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