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OpenDNS raises $35M for its security and content-filtering servers

David Ulevitch, the founder and CEO of OpenDNS.

Above: David Ulevitch, the founder and CEO of OpenDNS.

Image Credit: OpenDNS

OpenDNS, a company that provides a variety of services that includes protecting companies and individuals from cyberattacks, just raised a $35 million round of funding from a host of investors.

“OpenDNS is a true innovator among security companies,” said Stefan Dyckerhoff of Sutter Hill Ventures, one of the investors, in a statement. While that’s the sort of promotional statement you’d expect a major investor to make, it’s not incorrect: OpenDNS takes an unusual approach.

Most security companies require you to install software on your computer, smartphone, or on a box somewhere on your company’s network, and that software then monitors the applications you install and the data that travels through the network, looking for suspicious activity.

By contrast, OpenDNS technology starts with its own domain-name servers, which work much like other name servers on the Internet-wide Domain Name System (DNS). However, by routing customers’ Internet connections through its own servers, it is able to provide a level of protection — for instance, by keeping you from connecting to a known malicious site.

The same approach is useful for parents who want to make sure their children don’t connect to pornographic or other objectionable content. (And it works pretty well — at least until the kids learn how to change the DNS settings on their own computers.) It can also help direct people to the correct website even when they mistype a domain name (like gogle.com instead of google.com).

OpenDNS is free for use on home networks, but the company charges corporate customers, schools, and other organizations for its services. The company claims that 50 million people use it actively ever day and that it has more than 10,000 enterprise customers.

The company was founded in 2006. It hasn’t always positioned itself as a security company — in the past, it has focused much of its marketing on content-filtering and on the speed advantages of using its DNS servers instead of other, slower DNS servers.

Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Sutter Hill Ventures are current investors who also participated in this round. In addition, the company took money from Glynn Capital, Cisco Systems, Evolution Capital, Lumia Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Northgate Capital.

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