Feeds

Privacy software makes post 9-11 comeback

How anonymous do you want to be?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Despite the attempts of authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to usher in a new Cold War, in which citizens cower stupified under the presence of wiretapping, or window-peeping neighbours, privacy software appears to be alive and well.

Zero Knowledge Systems has added a low-cost surfing plug-in for Windows Internet Explorer that lets you bypass much of the junk that online advertisers and spammers use to build up user profiles. WebSecure costs $49.95 and it works by encrypting and rerouting traffic through ZKS' proxy servers.

But it doesn't claim to be "anonymous", ZKS tell us.

ZKS built the much-lauded anonymous browsing system Freedom Network, only to pull the plug last October, although as we reported last month, ZKS has made the source code available for academics and developers.

"It's not designed to be anonymous," ZKS' Dov Smith told us. "It's a privacy service more than an anonymity service."

"That's because true anonymity is so hard to do. Even with one of the world's best cryptographers, Ian Goldman, Freedom Network took a year longer to complete than expected, and we had to build an international network of servers," he said

Zero Knowledge could be forced to watch and track users, which he stresses it doesn't do, and that's an important differentiator. However WebSecure is immensely useful to the rest of us, although no Mac or Linux versions are planned.

"Freedom Network required a technical overhead and expense at our end, and a fair bit of sophistication at the users end. It didn't have the mass appeal that would translate to a much larger audience," said Smith.

But users do have two excellent choices, the other coming from San Diego-based anonymizer.com, founded in 1996 by Lance Cottrell, author of the Mixmaster anonymous remailer software.

"We haven't had a chance to pick it apart yet," Cottrell told The Register, "but the biggest thing is the version 1.0 phenomenon. So much of the problems are strange browser incompatibilities, and Javascript. Safeweb was riddled with holes," he said.

Anonymizer.com has a closed beta of its "Privacy Button" anonymous browsing plug-in that has full support for Javascript, and the update is slated for release at the end of the month. Both ZKS and Anonymizer take care of the client side, too, we note. The Anonymizer service works on all platforms, although the button itself is Windows-only, and costs $49.96 a year. The company also offers secure tunneling, for $29.99 for three months, through its servers. With insecure (and insecurable) wireless access becoming popular at cafes and airports in the US, this is a model that we hope will become ubiquitous. We'll be putting both systems through their paces and welcome field reports.

Please check out the links below for comprehensive guides to preserving your privacy on the Internet. It's the best favor you can do yourself today, and one in the eye for the window-peepers. ®

The Register guides to anonymous web surfing
Internet anonymity for Windows power users
Do-it-yourself Internet anonymity

Related Links

Censor-buster Peek-A-Booty goes public
Peek-A-Booty - the first screenshots

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.