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Protecting Your Privacy Online, Anonymously

Conclusions

Conclusions

Hiding your IP or making it appear to be something other than what it actually is really isn’t a terribly difficult chore. In addition to the tools and services we’ve reviewed in this article, a simple search for “open proxy” in your favorite search engine will yield many more options, as well as lists of open proxies you can use. When surfing the Web with the major browsers, it’s a trivial matter to set the browser to use a proxy instead of connecting directly to the Internet. The problem comes from finding reliable proxies that will work consistently.

In the case of Anonymizer, the anonymous-IP service is easy to setup and use, providing a clear picture of what is going on. The built in phishing/pharming/malicious file filter is also a major added bonus. Being limited to just one IP address per day that is limited to the United States, could, however, be a sticking point for some. Anonymizer also does not have an online interface at this point, so it’s limited to just your local PC installation. The Anonymizer Anonymous surfing product is only $29.99 a year, though, which among the paid services is a good deal.

NetConceal provides more choices when it comes to proxy selection, but it pales in comparison to Anonymizer’s easy to use management interface. As a paid product, though, NetConceal is only $24.95 and there are no yearly subscription fees.

Vidalia’s packaging of the Tor network is a superior choice compared to NetConceal, and with Vidalia’s cost being zero, it’s also an even better deal. The ability to connect into a global network of proxies with Tor is a very good thing, and while not all of the Tor proxies are of the same quality, most work well.

On the online proxy side, Anonymouse.org and Megaproxy are similar, while the fact that Megaproxy’s proxy was not reported as a proxy is a huge bonus and one that likely gives it an edge. Then again on the free side of the equation with anonymouse.org, you’re not limited to just 60 sites in five hours – which is a strong negative for the free Megaproxy service. Both Megaproxy and anonymouse.org have paid services that improve speed and performance while providing additional privacy and security measures. Anonymouse.org is $38 a year while the paid Megaproxy service is almost the same at about $40 a year (listed pricing is $9.99 for 90 days).

If you need an online service that you want for free, Anonymouse is the way to go. If you’re willing to pay, Megaproxy might have an edge thanks to its improved anti-caching features.

If you don’t mind just having a U.S. IP address, then Anonymizer is a solid service. If you’re looking for something more, then Vidalia is a great place to start.

It’s important to note that none of these services can entirely protect your IP and your identity but they all will move you in the right privacy direction.

Happy (anonymous) surfing !