Saturday, January 31, 2009

Long Term Practical Proxy Report

All are totally free, not free trial, some with optional paid services.
Hotspot Shield is still awesome. It's fast enough for watching Hulu movies. It's VPN so it support all protocols. All network traffic such as email, IM, etc are routed through it. You can check that it's working by using WireShark or just by firing up Windows Task Manager. On the network tab there is a VPN Adaptor in addition to your original Local Network connection. Traffic in both network connection is the same as any protocol goes through the VPN Adaptor first, then being converted to encrypted OpenVPN protocol, which then go through your hardware network card. If you use WireShare, you can see the protocol conversion. There are others, but only Free Trial. AlwaysVPN started charging but the old free beta version still works, though a lot slower than Hotspot Shield.

Hotspot Shield is ad supported with a banner on top. But it's pretty easy to get rid of it. A sure thing is to use encrypted connection such as https with your bank. You can also use any of the other proxies as they are all encrypted. The advantage of using another encrypted proxy is that, Hotspot Shield knows my IP, but it doesn't know anything about where I'm visiting and the contents. I have successfully use bittorrent for a couple of hours without disconnection. A BT client which hide the BT protocol helps. The speed is decent even that other peers cannot initiate a connection to you.

I use all the other proxies because their speed varies a lot, and sometimes fail. So the necessary Firefox add-on is FoxyProxy. Forget about the fancy options, just add a proxy, give a name such as ultrareach, and then the host and port. Set leftclick option to cycle through the proxies.

Apart from the German JonDoNym (and Hotsport Shield), all are American proxies aimed to bypass Chinese censorship. The software is not open source. You don't know who is behind the software or individual servers. So use it at your own risk. Possible funding sources are Voice of America, Fulong Gong. Most are detected as virus, malware or spyware. I can assure that they are not destructed virus (so far). But I don't know if they spy on me or not. But with Hotspot Shield running under, they don't know my IP. Also, if your anti-virus or anti-spy scanner cannot set to ignore them, it's a bit inconvenient. You may have to pause your anti-virus shields momentarily when you start them. They say the Chinese report them as malware on a large scale so they are detected as such. Some malware detectors had taken them off the list but there are too many detectors.

Ironically, all the Chinese censorship bypassing proxies have heavy censorship in varying degrees. Porns are out, but it's a good thing, otherwise the servers will be a lot slower. Anti-virus companies are out if they don't take them off the virus list. They also protect surfers by disallowing websites with dubious privacy policies, even Google. That's why you need slower proxies but with less censorship.

UltraSurf is very fast most of the time. You can even watch youtube with decent speed. Censorship is heavy. Supports only http protocol.

GPass is pretty decent until recently. May be it doesn't work well with Hotspot Shield. It supports many protocols via socks, such as email clients, IM, streaming video players. It can also route through Skype, so when you are browsing something forbidden, it appears to spying eyes that you are making a phone call, or other Skype users are making p2p phone calls routing your PC.

GTunnel is currently decently fast. It also supports Skype. It's the most often detected as malware.

FreeGate is not free anymore for non-Chinese users. Phoenix is another free VPN, but the Chinese interface makes sure that non-Chinese cannot use it.

JonDoNym is pretty slow part of the day. However it's reliable when it works and censor free. But with German data retention law, it's the most traceable by court order.

TOR is only useable in a small window around UTC 8 am. But it's nearest to be untraceable.

That's what I use on a daily basis.


alex smith said...

I actually heard about logs kept by isp and I didnt want to be under the eye of "Big Brother" so I searched on google and found you. Happy that i did. Using vpn has put my mind at ease. Your server has gone down once or twice but that was just a temporary hardware glitch as you put it.

The Player said...

Human Intelligent Task is hitting me from prolly India, honored.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm... Hotspot Sheild has lots of spyware. It allows "Big Brother" in your computer. Just instal it and run Spybot.

The Player said...

Hotspot Shield is basically an OpenVPN client. It's open source but one can always add something to it. Spyware is irrelevant in this case as it's ad supported, and everything you browse goes through it's server. My malware detector never detect anything due to Hotspot.