How To Choose Between A Commercial Or Free Encrypted Tunnel Proxy And VPN

Here, we're going to review commercial and free encrypted tunnel proxy and VPN technologies for the home or small office.

The term 'encrypted tunnel' is used to describe both secure anonymous proxies and Virtual Private Networks (VPN). (If you want to understand more about the various types of anonymous surfing to guard privacy, see The Different Types Of Anonymous Surfing Tools).

So you can get a good feel for what is suitable for your situation, we'll take a look first at the differences between tunnel proxies and VPN, then we'll review some of the commercial and free encrypted tunnel proxy and VPN products...

1. Commercial Or Free Encrypted Tunnel Proxy And VPN... The Differences

I. Security Of Data And Privacy

A commercial or free encrypted tunnel proxy and VPN generally will use the same type of encryption... usually SSL or SSH (For more details, take a look at Commercial and Free Encrypted Tunnel Proxy... The Role Of SSL And SSH).

However, a tunnel proxy has all connections and data routed through a proxy server. This proxy server retains logs of...

  • The real IP addresses of the computers connecting to it
  • Which connections the computer makes
  • What data is transferred through the encrypted tunnel
All commercial and free encrypted tunnel proxy programs that I've looked at or used has a privacy clause stating that the information collected will remain private, but that they will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.

Now, although we would be supportive of criminal investigations, if we're not the subject of that investigation, we still may not want our records to be handed over to the authorities, just because we've used that, or those, particular proxy server(s).

The point is, if we are accessing or transferring highly confidential information -- whether it be of a personal or commercial nature -- then we may wish to avoid this potential security or privacy risk.

This is why a VPN is more secure, in this respect. There is no proxy server involved in the secure tunneling of a VPN -- our PC acts as the anonymous, encrypted server, making a direct connection with the web-based application of our choice.

With VPN, then, there is no risk of our data and browsing data being handed over to any third party.

If you are not accessing or transferring highly confidential information -- like a client's financial information -- over the Internet, then for most home and small offices, a commercial or free encrypted tunnel proxy will guard privacy requirements.

II. Functionality

A commercial or free encrypted tunnel proxy is limited by the type of proxy used...

For instance, a web proxy will only generally allow encrypted and anonymous web surfing, whereas a Socks proxy allows many more web-based applications, such as file transfers and downloads.

With VPN, everything we send or receive on our computer is encrypted and anonymized, such as file transfer, email, IRC, ICQ, P2P, as well as surfing.

There is no proxy involved, so a VPN has a direct connection from our computer to our destination. Our Internet activity is invisible and easy to thread through a narrow hole in a firewall or router.

III. Speed

Using both a proxy and encryption generally slows down connection speeds of the commercial or free encrypted tunnel proxy.

A VPN has no loss of speed.

IV. Availability

Mainly the domain of corporations, governments and other large organisations, VPN is generally used for remote workers to connect to the corporate network.

However, an SSL or SSH VPN can also be an option for the home or small office user who doesn't want the risk of their data and browsing history being stored on a proxy server, as mentioned above.

There are also SSL and SSH proxy tunnels. These differ from a true VPN in that, although masking our IP address and encrypting our data transfers, our transmissions are passed though a proxy server, which anonymizes and encrypts our content.

Because SSL encrypted anonymous proxies have been discussed in A Review Of The Best Commercial International Anonymizers, the products we'll be focussing on here are SSH commercial or free encrypted tunnel proxy and VPN programs...

2. Commercial And Free Encrypted Tunnel Proxy... SSH Tunnel And VPN Products

I. Hide My Ass! Free Encrypted Web Proxy

Use the Hide My Ass! (HMA!) free proxy, encrypted with SSL, to surf anonymously online, hide your IP address, secure your internet connection, hide your internet history, and protect your online identity. I use this product and it's the best free encrypted tunnel. Just click on 'Tools' and you'll see it there.

II. Tor

A user obtains anonymity and encryption by incrementally building a circuit of encrypted connections through the free servers on the Tor network.

As the user is passed from one server to another, each server only knows which server it receives data from and gives it to -- no individual server knows the full path that the data has taken. Additionally, a new set of encryption keys is set up for each server, so these connections can't be traced.

This free encrypted tunnel proxy sounds too good to be true... and in a sense it is. Unfortunately, the project is still in the development stages and anonymity and security is not guaranteed.

You'll find out how to use it at The Tor Home Page

III. Anonymizer Universal

Anonymizer has developed Anonymizer Universal, which creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your computer and the other end of your internet connection, ensuring...

  • High-grade encryption providing security for wireless users.
  • Safeguards against identity theft, hackers, and eavesdroppers.
  • Internet activities and physical location are untraceable and private.

Another benefit of this software is that it doesn't suffer the connection speed loss common with proxy anonymizers in general. There is a...

  • 14-day free trial.
  • A 30 day money back guarantee.
  • No data of your server activity retained.
Anyone leery of online spies can feel safe and secure using this vigorous tool - Anonymizer Universal™.

IV. Guardster

In order to use the free Guardster SSH Tunnel, you need to configure your local applications, such as Internet Explorer, to use Guardster's SOCKS proxy.

You will also need an SSH client application, but the member account section provides access to software and instructions.

With the SSH tunnel in place, the applications will have all their data routed through the secure encrypted tunnel to Guardster's SOCKS proxy.

Unusually, your privacy is assured -- the Guardster privacy policy states that its subscription service "does not collect, track nor retain any information about who uses it, their IP addresses or the uses to which it is put." The company operates from Nevis, which has strong privacy laws.

There is a monthly or annual subscription service. However, at a cost similar to that of Anonymizer Universal and Secure-Tunnel -- but having to source your own SSH application -- this may put many non-technical people off.

3. Commercial And Free Proxy Anonymizers... Supporting Articles

  1. What Are Commercial And Free Proxy Anonymizers?
    How proxy anonymizers work and protect us.
  2. Commercial And Free Anonymous Web Surfing Stops This Monitoring When We're Online
    As soon as we connect to the Internet, organizations, authorities and individuals are after our identity and other personal information.
  3. Commercial And Free Anonymous Web Surfing Stops Our Personal Information Being Recorded
    Unless we use commercial or free anonymous web surfing, this identifying information is easily collected.
  4. The Pros and Cons Of Commercial And Free Proxy Anonymizers
    Get to know the distinctive differences between commercial and free anonymizers before choosing your anonymizer.
  5. The Different Types Of Anonymous Surfing Tools
    There are a number of different tools for anonymous surfing, each having different capabilities for anonymity and data security. Here's what to look for in making your choice.
  6. Free Proxy Anonymizers Reviewed
    If you have decided to try out a free anonymizer, here are some of the better products to choose from.
  7. A Review Of The Best Commercial International Anonymizers
    Commercial anonymizers have a number of advantages over their free counterparts. Here's a review of the most effective.
  8. The Role Of SSL And SSH
    SSL and SSH are the key to encrypting our connection so no third party can intercept or view what we are doing.
  9. Anonymous Email Service Free And Commercial
    How to anonymize and encrypt your confidential emails.

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