UltraSurf

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Description

Ultrasurf is designed to enable internet users to access restricted content in privacy and security. It was designed by a group of Chinese dissidents resident in the U.S.A. and is popular in countries which operate heavy internet restrictions.

Features

Although Ulturasurf does require the downloading of an executable file, the software’s footprint is so light as to be practically invisible and it leaves no registry traces upon exit. Should users wish to remove it from their computer, they simply need to delete the file rather than having to go through a full de-installation process. At current time the software only works with Internet Explorer and Firefox (by means of a plug-in). Most of the processing is undertaken by servers owned by Ultrareach, the organization which manages the software. The client software simply creates a secure connection between the user’s PC and Ultrareach’s servers.
Ultrareach continually changes the logical addresses of its servers to thwart attempts to block them. The software maintains the connection with the servers throughout this process. Ultrasurf is intended to facilitate freedom of speech and so the site does not support access to erotica or material which Ultrareach considers to be offensive. This is essentially because demand for its services is so high that it can not justify allocating bandwidth to users who simply want to access this sort of material.

Comparison

The two main alternatives to Ultrasurf are Tor and JAP/JonDonym. Tor is short for Onion Router and essentially works by encrypting and re-encrypting data at each point from A to B so that by the time it has travelled across the internet it is impossible to connect it to the original sender. JAP is short for Java Anon Proxy and essentially uses multiple proxy servers to create anonymity. It also mixes up data between multiple users to create extra confusion for anyone trying to follow the trail. JAP identifies its anonymizing agents, which means that they can be made subject to court orders, however they are increasing their international resources as a means to deal with this issue.

Conclusion

No anonymizing solution is perfect, however within its remit, Ultrasurf comes very close and is probably the best solution for those who simply want to access content. Those who wish to send messages may wish to look at Tor as an additional option. At this point JAP is still in its early stages and may well become an attractive option in future.

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