UltraSurf Review: Free Proxy based Privacy Tool for Risk Blogging & Anonymous Reporting

There is a lot of talk on Internet censorship. The US almost blocked several sites meant to share things. It took millions of phone calls and protests – both online and offline – to stop the Senate from passing the Internet Censorship bill (SOPA, as it was called). Internet censorship already exists in China where even Google is censored. Iran is building its Internet to keep its citizens away from happenings in the world. India too makes noises, on and off, about monitoring the Internet and thereby the freedom of speech. You can see the list at the end of this post.

Surf Internet Anonymously

We had posted a few reviews of tools that help you bypass any kind of censorship while protecting your privacy on the Internet. Different methods exist to protect your privacy and identity when you are online. Some are simple browsers while others are dedicated channels that encrypt data during transmission.

For example, SpotFlux is a free VPN service that creates a secure channel between your computer and Spotflux servers after masking your IP address so that anyone snooping on your Internet usage is misguided.

One more such software is TOR (The Onion Router) browser. War journalists and bloggers from countries like China, Iran, and Afghanistan use it to protect their identity. Even the Anonymous group recommends TOR as a measure to keep yourself secure on the Internet – especially if you are blogging or reporting against the federal agencies, other government, or militant agencies.

We had also discussed the Jumpto Browser, but since they offer only 100MB bandwidth per month for free, it is not feasible for many. Of course, you can go for paid versions but then, all of us love freebies, don’t we? Also, Jumpto looks as if more suited for kids.

CyberGhost VPN is another anonymity tool for Windows that completely hides and protects your identity online.

There are many more products out there. Just run a search with “security” keyword on The Windows Club or click this link to check out articles on Online Security.

The only thing you need to consider is how these companies treat your data. While TOR won’t (or rather, CANNOT) give out your data even to the legal authorities, others may compromise and share your data with others. Your favorite search engine is one such company that easily gives out your data and even sells it to advertising companies. In the endeavor to search for tools providing security online, I came across UltraSurf. The following aims to present a review of UltraSurf.

UltraSurf Review

Though the name sounds more like a browser, it is a software that employs Internet Explorer for browsing – after hiding your IP address. Though it works with other browsers as well, it opens IE when you launch UltraSurf. You can turn off this feature using the UltraSurf Control Panel (See image below: options are self-explanatory).

The home page of UltraSurf says that it was designed to help people of countries like China, where the Internet is heavily censored. Since they cannot get to most of the social networking sites and International news websites, UltraSurf came into existence to provide them with an on-demand proxy. Since this proxy is established each time you connect to the Internet (given that Ultra-Surf is set up as a startup program), it allows you to bypass any kind of Internet censorship – allowing you to view blocked websites.

I searched my IP after launching UltraSurf and found the result as shown in the following image. The IP masking part does work!

It also says that though the original target of Ultra Surf was China residents, people across the world have recognized the kind of security it provides and use it to protect both their identity and privacy on the Internet.

In other words, if you use Ultra Surf to blog about anything, no authorities can find out who blogged as the IP would be different. You must, however, be using a public blogging service. In case you blog on a custom domain, it is easy for authorities to find out your identity by contacting your registrar whose information is always visible in WHOIS search.

How To Use UltraSurf For Best Protection

The best thing here is that you do not have to install it. When you download it, you get it as a ZIP file. You can extract the ZIP anywhere to your hard disk and even copy it to your Pen Drive. Carry the Pen Drive to a cyber coffee, copy the software to the desktop, launch it and perform the tasks you wish to do: send emails anonymously, a blog from behind a firewall and more. Do you want to get into war reporting?!

After you are done with your work, remove the program from cyber café’s desktop to erase any traces of you using a Proxy software. This is just like TOR, only that the TOR network is much stronger allowing you to change proxies to any country you wish.

How does UltraSurf work?

When you click on the file after extracting it, you get a folder named utmp – which – I suppose contains temporary files. These files do not have any extension and are about 1KB each. I opened a few of them using NotePad and Microsoft Word. They did not make any sense until I selected Taiwan Wang as language, which then showed some Chinese symbols.

When you delete the UltraSurf folder after usage at public cybercafes, make sure you shred the utmp folder too. If you are in a country where blogging is risky or if you are reporting anonymously, you should not simply delete files and folders. Use shredders to erase files permanently and remove traces in case of risky anonymous reporting and blogging.

Problem or rather, the advantage of UltraSurf is that you won’t get a Startup Menu entry or Desktop icon. Remember that you did not have to install it. You need to remember the location where you unzipped it. Each time you wish to start the program, you have to navigate to the program and open it. You can create a desktop shortcut by right-clicking on the program icon and selecting “Send To” > Desktop.

Though it is fine for casual use, a desktop shortcut is not recommended for risk blogging and anonymous reporting in which case; you would be secure erasing the entire UltraSurf folder after each use. At this point, I would like to bring your attention to a reporter who reported from Libya anonymously. I am not sure how she got caught, but the result was her elimination – and the TV Channel she worked for, had nothing to say about her. If you are in such a job or are risk-blogging, using tools like TOR helps more than anything else.

UltraSurf is more about protecting your privacy, and it does not keep on changing your IP address during the current session.  It means you have to be real quick in completing tasks. There are some programs designed to provide more security by changing your IP address every few minutes while you are working. Such a program makes it impossible to trace who is blogging and from where.

UltraSurf does provide a fake IP address per session. If you wish to change your IP address when in the middle of composing a mail or blogging, close and restart the program as it won’t change it on its own when being used. TOR is better in this case, and even FreeGate comes on top of UltraSurf in my list of identity protectors.

If all you need is encryption and simply privacy, UltraSurf is good for you. You get the option to turn off the Internet Explorer using the UltraSurf Control Panel Options. You also get to select from three different servers of UltraSurf in case you need to get better speed for browsing.

The highlight of the program is a golden lock that appears over the system tray when you open UltraSurf and stays there until you close UltraSurf. When you quit UltraSurf, you get the option of keeping Internet Explorer open. Alternatively, you can ask UltraSurf to close IE before quitting.

I do not know the exact use of that golden lock over the system tray. I can only guess that it is placed there to make it clear that UltraSurf is running. It does provide shortcuts to options, help and quit but then, the taskbar icon is always there, and it too takes you to the control panel having the same options. Maybe the UltraSurf authorities can shed some light on the usage of the icon.

My Verdict

UltraSurf is good for protecting privacy and handy too, as you can take it anywhere on your pen drives. It may also help with anonymous reporting and risk-blogging to some extent, but do not count on it if your kind of blogging and reporting poses a risk to your life. Protecting privacy is something very little compared to identity protection. In the latter case, you need many more additional steps to keep your identity hidden from authorities: using portable proxies and browsers, offline composing, shredding of files on local disks after usage. In short, identity protection is all about safe operations while removing all traces of that operation from computers – be it private or public.

Scope For Improvement:

  • Incorporating a system of changing IP addresses randomly even while the session is in progress.
  • Alternatively, allow users to select the proxies manually to change them while the session is still in progress.

Otherwise, the program is excellent!

Link of Countries Implementing Internet Censorship

Below is a rough list of countries that I compiled after researching a little. Many of these countries censor bad or violent websites. Though I believe such sites should be taken care of by people using different tools, like the Family Safety Center in Windows, many governments take over the role of Internet Nanny.

Among other types of censorship is a blackout of news – for good or for bad; altering news and events to highlight or suppress something; slowing down the Internet deliberately so that you cannot view videos or audios that require higher speeds.

Among the countries known for Internet censorship are:

  1. China (topping the list with different types of censorship),
  2. Myanmar (blocks opposition and human rights websites)
  3. Iran (blocking the Internet as a whole to create its own version of the Internet; I don’t know if it will be successful, but it is trying);
  4. Saudi Arabia (filters Internet through a custom-made software that blocks anything against the government)
  5. India (manipulation of news and events; blocking social media accounts, blogs, and websites that act against the government of India.

I will come up with an article with a complete list of countries implementing censorship of what is called freedom of speech. The Anonymous Group has been actively involved in protesting against such censorships, but ultimately, it is the federal authorities who have the upper hand given the amount of power they hold.

Stay safe!

NOTE: We are not related to The Anonymous Group in any way except that their material helped the author learn about staying safe and secure online.

Download this VPN to secure all your Windows devices and browse anonymously
Posted by on , in Category General with Tags
Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

20 Comments

  1. Shankar

    Spam emails are getting generated on my PC. i hope they are from social media websites. Can this installation of Ultrasurf or TOR help me in stalling the spam email. Or Is there any better method?

  2. Shankar

    Virus Total finds 4/44.

    TrendMicro-HouseCall TROJ_GEN.RCBH1JF
    Kaspersky not-a-virus: NetTool.Win32.UltraSurf.tk
    VIPRE Ultrasurf (not malicious)
    ESET-NOD32 Win32/UltraReach

    Any comments

  3. Arun Kumar

    Check the origin of these emails. If they are from social media sites, you can adjust settings in those websites. Or if you use any email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird, you can create rules to delete emails from specific email addresses.

  4. Arun Kumar

    First, it accesses your IP settings, enables proxy and sets them to somewhere on the planet randomly. Obviously, antivirus will shout foul. No need to worry about installing it. It has been tried by many, including CNET, Ars and more.

  5. dadwhiskers

    I’m interested in the journalist who was “eliminated”. You seem to infer she was using UltraSurf, or am I over reading your statements?

    Also, the reason Ultrasurf may be better than, or at least equivalent to Freegate and TOR is the reason that they do not assign IPs as the others do. All data streams between your computer and the UltraSurf servers is encrypted both ways, and there is no way for your connection to be traced through their servers.

    The servers apparently proactively make “random” sorts of connections and use other techniques to make tracing a connection through it’s servers impossible. There is then no practical, or perhaps any way at all for your connection to be traced through their servers. Not having multiple IPs is actually UltraSurf’s real strength, so you don’t have to be quick about what you do, as everything comes in and out of the same servers, with no way to know what data stream is from or for whom.

    One might try using both UltraSurf, or UltraReach’s relatively new UltraVPN with TOR started afterward. I think that would be a very effective combination.

  6. Arun Kumar

    No. I did not mean she was using UltraSurf. It could have been anything. The news piece said she was reporting anonymously and obviously, the tool she was using was not good enough to protect her identity.
    The only problem using UltraSurf is that most tracking agencies will know “it is a proxy” though I did come through anything yet that could identify “what kind of proxy”.

  7. crnrao

    Can you please help me? Some time back I chose to hide the interface window and the golden clock. I am unable to find the the Ultrsurf interface window now. I have tried reinstalling it, but it doesn’t help. Thank you.

  8. Chico

    You are delusional if you think you can’t be spotted using Ultra surf.

  9. anonymous

    I not allowed to posted the same comment twice even though it was pertainent here as well.

    READ it at: https://www.thewindowsclub.com/spotflux-review

  10. bmcdani

    My security network picks up ultrasurf has a high prioriy alert. I have done some research on the risk of this alert, and my question is should I block the port that it is coming through or just block the attack because if ultrasurf is not a threat then I don’t want to keep seeing it coe up in my security report.

  11. Arun Kumar

    I did not understand the later part “block the attack”. If you are referring to alerts about Ultrasurf, blocking the port might block proper functioning of UltraSurf as well. Just add it to whitelist on your security program. That should suffice.

  12. bmcdani

    Our company does not use UltraSurf ,then blocking it should not be an issue unless it impacts other traffic on Port 443. So my question is, does blocking the UltraSurf alert impact traffic on port 443?
    If we do not use UltraSurf then blocking it should not be an issue unless

  13. bmcdani

    If we do not use UltraSurf then blocking it should not be an issue unless it impacts other traffic on Port 443. So the question remains, does blocking the UltraSurf alert impact traffic on port 443?

  14. Arun Kumar

    Okay. I did not understand it earlier. Sorry for that. . Blocking UltraSurf should not block traffic from the port it was using.

  15. bestgift

    so ultrasurf can be blocked finaly !! how can I unblock it ?!

  16. bestgift

    please any help from you ? ultrasurf is not working anymore on my work place network? could you advice how to change port on it ? because I think they block the port used by ultrasurf

  17. Arun Kumar

    If it is blocked at application level, you will have to ask admin to unblock. If only the port is blocked, you may change it from Options -> Listening Local Port. Give it different values from 30 to 2000 and see which one is working. Usually, proxies use 80 so I guess it should help. Let us know.

  18. Ian Lim

    Great site here! If you want to find all of the best VPN’s on the market compared to each other then you should check out http://thebestproxyserver.com/cyberscrub/

  19. rathnam

    I want to install ultra surf but that site too is blocked. Please advice me what to do?

  20. Jack Parsons

    There many inaccuracies here. And I don’t even know a whole lot about these subjects. People… Don’t use a free VPN service, this is just a commercial. You can tell by this dude’s responses in the comments that he was nice enough to reply to that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. This is old but still relevant and google pulled this up for me, so you’ve been warned. When you learn things like this, look up what everyone else is saying and take it all in. Don’t just fall for some commercial like a fool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


7 + 2 =