Steganos Internet Anonym 5.0
Internet Anonym is available directly from Steganos online as a 7MB download. Simply double-click the file, and the program installs into a drive and directory of your choice; no other configuration is necessary. Internet Anonym works as a plug-in with Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Mozilla. As a bonus, the installation process also places a copy of Steganos Shredder on your desktop. Shredder deletes files securely by overwriting them several times with 1s and 0s.
The Anonym main menu provides direct control over seven of the program's tools and access to a detailed submenu for an eighth tool, Destroy Local Traces. We like the way Internet Anonym presents the Surf Anonymously tool, displaying each camouflaged Web address as it swiftly cycles through a list. We also appreciate how each of the tools remains highlighted while active so that you can quickly tell what's running.
Internet Anonym's primary utility, Surf Anonymously, continuously transmits a series of fake addresses to any site you visit, masking your true IP address, computer name, and even your town and country of origin. But constantly switching IP identities comes at a cost: Internet access slows significantly, even on a dedicated cable line.
Anonym's blocker tools, on the other hand, were thorough and mostly transparent. When the cookie blocker was active for hours, no cookies were stored on our drives, but a noticeable drag occurred when loading pages. The pop-up blocker had a success rate of better than 95 percent, which, given the constantly evolving nature of pop-ups (mainly, to circumvent pop-up blockers), is excellent.
However, these blocking tools are so vigilant as to be inflexible. You can't, for example, instruct the pop-up blocker to permit certain pop-ups on sites that provide online help or request specific information. Same with the cookie blocker, which eliminates all cookies--or removes nothing when it's off. Similarly, the scripts blocker rejects all scripts, including benevolent ones such as those that let you look up weather for a specific zip code or address from the main Weather Channel Web site. While enabling or disabling a given blocker tool is as simple as clicking its system tray icon, this quickly got tedious.
Internet Anonym's help system limits itself to a short manual that is available from both the main menu and the Settings dialog box. It provides well-written but superficial information and is poorly arranged. For example, in the Settings chapter, you are never told what ActiveX objects do or when they should be blocked, only that Steganos's tool blocks them. But in a short paragraph tucked inside the glossary, we found valid reasons for blocking ActiveX. Also, there is no searchable index.
Steganos, located in Germany, does not offer telephone technical support in the United States. Instead, a Customer Service button at the top of the Help screen links to the Steganos Web site, where registered users can submit questions via e-mail. The company responded to our queries courteously, thoroughly, and within 72 hours of contact.