Over the years I've looked at most of the private proxy surfing, anonymous, hide your IP address software - anything that can help surfing anonymously on the Internet. Some of it is excellent, a lot of it is total rubbish and most of it lies somewhere in between.
The very worse programs (and there are a lot of these) are simply basic proxy switchers, they search the internet for free proxies and then channel your data through them. Of course the free anonymous proxies are some of the most insecure servers on the planet, often run by hackers and identity thieves preying on the people that think they can get a super secure connection by someone else paying for it !! Some may just about hide your address, your IP address that is but you'll lose passwords, account details and maybe worse in return.
The added bonus of using a professional network of proxies is that you are actually getting two products in one. You may have seen many programs allowing you to watch UK TV, Hulu and BBC Iplayer and bypassing IP address restrictions. Well most of these are simply proxy servers in the corresponding countries, you pay for access to those servers - these often cost many times the cost of Identity Cloaker for access to a single server!
Using Identity Cloaker you'll get access to proxy servers in many countries including France, UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Netherlands - each of these servers can be accessed to watch online media content - they've even put in multiple servers to cope with the extra demand for BBC Iplayer Proxy and Hulu watchers.
Anyway when it comes down to it I think there are three major ways to rate security software - the important factors are
Now I'm not going to go through all the software I've used but there are in my opinion two options - if you have no budget to spend on a solution - look up TOR and use that - it's very slow and a bit tricky to use but it's still better than many commercial software. If you can afford a commercial solution with fast private proxies - check out Identity Cloaker - my review follows.
Identity Cloaker Review
The installation of Identity Cloaker is pretty straight forward it takes a minute or so and doesn't require administrator access. You can install to your computer laptop or copy onto a USB stick so that you can use it on any PC you use - maybe work, college, cyber cafe etc.
When you first fire up Identity Cloaker you'll see the following screen
I've blotted out the proxy names for obvious reasons, but you can see there are multiple proxies in Germany, Sweden, Holland, UK and USA. Listed next to them are the response times so if you don't need to use a specific country proxy then just pick a fast one. At this point you are not connected to any proxy so your connection is not protected.
So all I need to do is pick a proxy and connect or start up my browser. Remember though if you want to pretend to come from a certain country you'll need to pick the right proxies. So if you want to surf as an American then select a US proxy, want to watch the BBC then select a UK proxy.
Here's the authentication screen where you have to type in your username and password. You'll notice the server is listed as 127.0.0.1 which is actually your local machine. This is because Identity Cloaker makes an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the proxy server you have selected. It is down this tunnel that all your communication flows and is completely unreadable to anyone outside this tunnel, your ISP logs will contain no details of your browsing at all, also anyone sharing a network, wifi will see nothing either.
From this point my connection will appear to come from the country of the proxy, I'll be treated by the web servers I visit as being a UK citizen in this case. This is why it is so useful for watching things like BBC Iplayer, or if I switched to a US server then I'll be able to listen or watch US only programmes.
Identity Cloaker runs silently in the background with a little padlock showing your Identity is cloaked.You can see confirmation here -
You can instruct the proxy to switch every few minutes for added security, but remember your origin will switch as well.
All the proxies are privately and discretely run by a team of proxy specialists, the absolute minimum of data is logged and deleted almost instantly. The servers are secured to the highest level and themselves leave very little trace on any server you visit (you of course leave none). When I used it there was virtually no speed loss although using a US proxy my connection was a little slower.
You can Identity Cloaker from your USB stick on any computer you use, the SSH tunnel can be used via a works proxy server and can also 'tunnel' through firewall restrictions (you should be careful with this functionality though)
Identity Cloaker also offers for advanced users an Open VPN connection option, this can be used to encrypt other forms of communication. It's quite simple to use just connect to one of Identity Cloakers proxy servers and you have created an encrypted tunnel which will protect the rest of you connection - email, ftp, instant messaging - yes you can encrypt virtually anything.
I'll go into more depth of Identity Cloakers technical features quite soon, there's a huge amount of development and thought gone into this software that deserves some more attention, if you want to surf the web anonymously there isn't a better product that I am aware of.