Web surfing is becoming quite a dangerous thing to do. If you are at work you have to worry about them monitoring you. If you are at home you have to worry about people stealing your personal information. Everyone is looking for a quick, cheap and easy way to insure their privacy on the Internet. The StealthSurfer II makes the claim that they can help you remain anonymous at home or at work so you no longer have to worry about who is watching.
- Firefox – high-speed browser with enhanced security
- Anonymizer – anonymous surfing complete network security and IP masking
- RoboForm – one-click form-fill with secure user ID/password management application
- Thunderbird – portable e-mail access
- Hushmail – high security web based e-mail solution
- USB 2.0
Ever since the release of the original StealthSurfer the manufacturers have been hard at work improving on their technology and design. In case you are interested, we covered the original StealthSurfer here. They have added several new features and increased the size of the flash drives.
The original StealthSurfer was basically just a web browser that made the claim that by keeping your cookies and web history on the flash drive you were safe from prying eyes at home and network monitors at work. This claim did not hold up very well, so they went back to the drawing board and made some significant changes.
The StealthSurfer II has several new enhancements that will do a much better job of keeping your surfing habits private. Their first and most major change is the inclusion of Anonymizer. Anonymizer is a small piece of software that runs quietly in the background hiding your IP address and the content of your pages. It hides your IP address from the website you visit by having all your web requests go through a proxy server. A proxy server is a computer that sits between you and the Internet. This means that the people on the web only see the proxy server and not you. StealthSurfer II hides the content of your pages by giving you a secure connection to the proxy server. This means that even if you surf at work they cannot see the content of the pages you are looking at because they are encrypted with SSL.
Now just because your work cannot see the content of your pages, it does not mean they don’t know what pages you are looking at. If your office is monitoring your Internet usage they can still see the URL of every page you visit. This means that if they were really interested they could go back to those pages and see for themselves what you are looking at. Your office could also be monitoring the amount of bandwidth you are using, so if you are streaming videos or audio and you get in trouble for using up too much bandwidth, then the StealthSurfer II will not help you.
The next big change is the web browser. The original StealthSurfer used the Netscape 7 web browser. The new StealthSurfer II uses the Firefox web browser. This web browser is well supported and maintained.
To assist you in your surfing the StealthSurfer II also includes RoboForm. RoboForm is a small piece of software that automatically fills in forms on the Internet with your information. This saves you from having to retype you name, address etc. every time you fill out a form.
Another nice addition to the StealthSurfer II is the ability to get your email. The device includes the Thunderbird Email client which is made by the same group that makes the Firefox web browser.
The StealthSurfer II also boasts encrypted email services through a product called Hushmail. I could not find any information about this in the documentation so I went onto the StealthSurfer website. The website talked about the Hushmail service, but gave no instructions about how to set up an account or even where to find the product. A quick Google search turned up the website www.hushmail.com. This site offers free personal email accounts. I could not find anything on the website about any special deals that they had made with StealthSurfer so it looks like the mention of Hushmail was just an advertisement.
The StealthSurfer II is designed to look exactly like the original StealthSurfer. The StealthSurfer II consists of an Intelligent Stick which is made by PQI. This is quite an innovative memory stick. The stick has an optional that you can put it in for protection and also for providing you with a standard USB plug; but you don’t need the cradle to plug it in. The stick itself fits nicely in a USB slot on your computer and will read just fine. This makes the stick very small and lightweight.
The StealthSurfer has been upgraded and given a USB 2.0 connection. This boosts the speed up to 8MB/sec. This really helps to make it so there is no lag when using the programs on the StealthSurfer II.
Unfortunately, the StealthSurfer II only works on the Windows OS, specifically Windows 2000/XP. This is mainly because the Anonymizer software is only available for Windows. I know that Firefox and Thunderbird are both available for the Macintosh OS.
When you plug in the StealthSurfer you will notice only a single executable file. This is a password protected access point to the rest of the programs. The software that provides the password protection is called U-Storage. When you unlock the StealthSurfer the U-Storage software will be running in the background and it constantly uses 4 MB of RAM. This is not including the RAM that the individual programs use.
Every time you login to the StealthSurfer II it will look for an updated version of the software. You don’t have to worry about keeping you software up to date because it is done automatically. While it is looking for new software you will see this splash screen.
You will also notice that even before you start storing your own files on the StealthSurfer II, that there is already about 70 MB of space used up by the programs. You may want to take this into consideration when choosing the size of StealthSurfer you buy. Since the StealthSurfer II comes in sizes from 128 MB to 1 GB you will have a wide variety to choose from.
There are several strange things that I ran into, one by accident and another seems to be standard functionality. I was taking screen shots of the StealthSurfer for this review and when I tried to open up Photoshop 5.5 it would keep crashing. I did some testing and found that if the StealthSurfer was unlocked then Photoshop 5.5 would not open correctly. If Photoshop 5.5 was already open when you unlocked the StealthSurfer II then it worked fine. Just an odd occurrence that I thought I would bring up.
The other strange thing that I noticed is that when you open either Thunderbird or Firefox on the StealthSurfer II then your default browser is changed. It is not changed to Firefox because if you set Firefox to check to see if it is default then it still says it is not. It is also not IE because of the same reason as Firefox. I have not found how to turn this off or even which browser it is set to. This is really annoying and should be fixed as soon as possible.
This really is a big improvement over the original StealthSurfer. It is beginning to become a really helpful tool. It is not yet perfect, so take that into consideration when you choose where to use it. The price starts at $99.29 for the 128 MB version up to $299.29 for the 1GB version. Even though these prices are a bit steep, you are not only getting the flash drive but you are also getting the software. I think this is a a great product for those who just have to visit websites and check email whenever they are near a computer. This will help keep those sites private and your email current. If you can wait until you get home then this won’t do you any good.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|