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Anonymizer preps Private Surfing 2.0

Takes shot in privacy arms race

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Anonymizer Inc will tomorrow introduce version 2.0 of its popular anonymous web surfing service, Private Surfing, containing more features aimed at advancing its position in what CEO Bill Unrue calls the "privacy arms race", Kevin Murphy writes.

It's a war zone out there. Not only do internet users have to contend with hackers, as they did back in 1996 when Anonymizer was founded, now they've got to look out for intrusive employee internet management software, government snooping and ubiquitous pop-up advertisements for tiny wireless cameras.

"There's now more corporate monitoring of employees, and governments spying on their citizens in foreign countries," said Unrue. "And 90% of all sites out there are now gathering personal information."

Anonymizer acts as a proxy for its users' web surfing, preventing pop-ups, IP address logging and some hacking attempts on the one hand, and keeping your browser history and cookie folder clean of incriminating evidence on the other. The company offers a free crippled version and a $50-per-year subscription version.

In Private Surfing 2.0, URLs are now scrambled to prevent them showing up in history files and page titles are removed. The service also introduces "full-time" SSL - all pages are encrypted between anonymizer.com and the user are encrypted to prevent monitoring, even if the original site did not use SSL.

But the service isn't just something that husbands can use to hide which adult sites they've visited from their wives, or which slacking employees can use to surf sports sites during work hours. There are applications of the technology that corporations can use to protect their intellectual property and to gather market intelligence.

Unrue said it is often used by enterprises for checking out their competitor's web sites. He cited instances where companies have programmed their sites to return false information, inflated prices or even job offers if a page is requested from an address in their competitor's IP range.

In one instance, Unrue said, a company was able to track a new competitor's product lifecycle from development, engineering and ultimately sales and marketing, merely by analyzing the logs for which parts of its site were accessed by the rival and how frequently. The firm could guess the date of the product launch within a week, he said. Be afraid.

© ComputerWire

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