Software Reviews

Steganos Internet Anonym 5 by Steganos

Reviewed by Laurence Fenn

With the increase of pop up ads, cookies and ActiveX controls on web sites gathering information and installing programs on your PC without your knowledge, users are wanting to block their identity when they surf the web, and Steganos Internet Anonym 5 claims to help you do this, but it's not easy to configure.

Installation takes just over 4Mb, and the program works as a plug-in with Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Mozilla. It is controlled by a small interface that sits in your system tray, and as a bonus, you also get a copy Steganos Shredder which deletes files securely by overwriting them several times with 1s and 0s.

The main interface shows the status of almost all the tools. You can easily choose what to block, whether it is cookies, Browser Identity, Referrer (what site you came from), ActiveX objects, scripts or pop-up windows. The Surf Anonymously tool displays each camouflaged Web address as it swiftly cycles through a list. It 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. The only drawback of this is that your Internet access slows down considerably, no matter what type of connection you have.

You cannot specify particular sites that you do not want to block. If you access a site where a cookie on your system helps you login or enter details, the site cannot cope of you have the cookies blocked. Scripts are similarly on or off, and in the introduction of the manual it says that Javascript can spy on you and enable remote control of your PC. There are no write commands in Javascript (or Microsoft's Jscript), and it is a common misconception that Javascript can infect your PC. Yes, it can be programmed to put up endless windows and put your browser into a loop, but it cannot write data to your hard drive or spy on you without using ActiveX or java applets. The help system, like the manual has no screen shots, and there is no search facility either.

The Internet Trace Destructor allows you delete files in the Recycle bin, temporary files, pagefile, recently used documents, cookies, temporary internet files and a host of other things. The list only highlights the options available for the programs it can detect on your system, so as I was running Windows 2000, the Windows XP options of automatic authentication and other settings were greyed out. The 48 options available cover Windows, Windows Explorer, Windows XP, Internet Explorer 5 and 6, AOL 7 and 8, Google Toolbar 1, Netscape 6 and 7, Office 2000 and Office XP, RealOne Player 2, RealPlayer 8, T-Online 4, Windows Media Player 6 to 8, WinRAR 3, WinZip 7 and 8 and Wordpad.

The final program, Steganos Shredder, lets you select a file or folder, and then you can destroy it using one of two methods.

Complete overwriting (fast) - All data is overwritten with random data once.

Multiple complete overwriting (slow) - This procedure complies with, and surpasses, the standard used by the US Department of Defense, DoD 5220.22-M/NISPOM 8-306. The contents of the file are overwritten three times: once with the character '1', once with the character '0', and finally with random data.

The help system gives details of this, but there is no link in the program to the help file. There are also some sweeping remarks about web sites. To quote “Pop-ups cannot be justified by claims of aesthetics or user-friendliness. They are purely and simply a nuisance. They usually offer no useful information and are only used for advertising. Block them and do your nerves a favor.” That maybe correct for many sites, but on some sites the pop gives information (like product details on Dabs) or a question concerning the contents of the page you are about to enter (like the Over 18 cheeky emails at

Something not mentioned in the documentation is the adult web site filters. If you visit a site that has adult content, you receive a new web page that says “You cannot access the follow web address <URL of web site>. The site you requested is in a category that is blocked under your organisation's filtering policy. You can Use N2H2's URL Checker to find out how this site is categorized, Submit a site review request to your network administrator. Your administrator can then determine whether this site should be added to a list of allowed sites for your organisation. Use your browser's Back button or enter a different Web address to continue.” You cannot turn this feature off without switching the program off completely, and it is annoying that it is not mentioned in the manual.

The program by itself does not offer a firewall, but it worked fine with ZoneAlarm. I did not test it on a Windows XP machine, but it would probably work with the built in firewall as well. I found tremendous problems viewing some sites with the program on, even the Lycos search engine site. I have a Lycos email account and when I visit the site I can tell if I have any email as it automatically logs me in. With Steganos Internet Anonym on, it could not cope and I had several errors. Buy on line sites (like also had problems, as well as Yahoo.

The program (even when not running) prevented CuteFTP from working correctly. I could not connect to either of my websites to upload files and I even complained to my ISP technical support (as I did not know that Steganos Internet Anonym was the cause). I could use web folders to access the sites, but I prefer the FTP interface. The program would log on to my site, but stop before it displayed the directory of files. As soon as I uninstalled the software the problem disappeared. I found the program far too restrictive for my liking, and the controls not flexible enough to allow me to surf without constantly switching settings. The poor documentation didn't help either. There is a version 6 of the software already out, but whether this fixes any of the drawbacks of the one I reviewed remains to be seen.