Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review


Freedom(R) Internet Privacy Suite
by Brigitte Lord

Several months ago, two representatives from Zero- Knowledge (http://www.Zero-Knowledge.com/) demonstrated their Freedom Internet Privacy Suite (http://www.Freedom.net/). I had a chance to review Freedom (versions 1.1 and 2.0) on my home computer using Windows 98 Second Edition and dial-up networking (56K, V.90).

The installation of Freedom was easy. There is a peculiar step in which you must generate a unique encryption key. You do this by hovering and clicking the mouse and pressing random keys repeatedly for a couple of minutes all the while receiving written encouragement that you are doing well and are almost done. You must then choose a password that will be used to launch Freedom every time. You must also select one of the servers in the Freedom network through which you will be routed. This consists of pinging any number of Freedom servers from an extensive list. You can do this with a single click from the Freedom interface or from a DOS window. From this list, you choose the server that returned the shortest ping time. Freedom routes your connection through three of its servers - you are required to choose only the first one (front server).

Freedom has many features including a personal firewall, e- mail encryption, Form Filler, Cookie Manager, Ad Manager, and Keyword Alert. You can remain anonymous even while chatting on the Internet.

The Personal Firewall is quite adequate and configurable. You can allow or disallow certain programs to connect to the Internet. You may even disable the firewall altogether.
It readily reported pings to my machine and packets trying to access my computer.

The e-mail encryption/decryption option only works if Freedom is running when you send or receive e-mail. Should you forget to load Freedom, the program will prompt you to start it before you send or receive any e-mail (you can disable this). You can, however, decrypt encrypted e-mail later by launching Freedom and selecting the encrypted file from your hard drive. Note that the encryption/decryption process happens within the servers of the Freedom network and that all the recipients of your e-mail will be able to read your mail without having to download a special key or even subscribe to the Freedom network. Your e-mail address will appear as your_nym@privacy.net to your e-mail recipients. It is important to inform your friends about your new identity in case they decide they don't recognize you in the "From" line and delete your messages before reading them. People can send you e-mail at either your regular e-mail address or your_nym@privacy.net in which case Freedom will forward it to your regular e-mail account.

Form Filler is handy on any Web page with a form to fill. Freedom will prompt you to launch Form Filler should you wish to use it, even if Freedom is not running. This may also be disabled.

Cookie Manager allows you to block cookies, let your Web browser manage cookies, or place cookies in the Freedom Cookie Jar. The cookies within the Freedom Cookie Jar can be deleted anytime with one click from within Freedom preferences.

Ad Manager can block banner ads thereby speeding download time. Ad Manager can also be disabled.

Keyword Alert warns you when you have inadvertently included personal information such as your name, e-mail address, or home address in the text of an e-mail. However, it will not scan for such information in attachments.

The key feature of Freedom is the Nym. Think of it as a pseudonym. You have a total of five that you can use for one year. One Nym could be for chatting, another for shopping, and others for browsing various types of Web sites. In order to be protected, you must load one of your Nyms. It is important to know that Freedom can be loaded without selecting a Nym. Loading Freedom in this fashion reveals your true identity to the Internet since you are not being routed through the Freedom network. You can still use other features of Freedom such as the firewall, Cookie Manager, Ad Manager, and Form Filler.

Connection speeds while Freedom is loaded with a Nym are slower. Without a Nym, Freedom download times did not suffer any lag. Bandwidth tests gave the following results (at 45.3 Kbps):

Without Freedom: 39.1 Kbps

With Freedom (Nym selected): 21.3 Kbps

With Freedom (no Nym - no privacy): 39.3 Kbps

All in all, Freedom is a secure solution for those who are worried about their Internet privacy. It may prove invaluable for those searching the Internet for information about health problems or bankruptcy. Freedom will hide their identity and allow them to easily delete cookies sent by these Web sites. As long as they use Freedom under the guise of a Nym, they need not worry that a current or future boss will find traces of their true identity at sensitive Web sites.


Bottom Line:

Freedom(R) Internet Privacy Suite
Proprietary Software: $49.95 + yearly subscription fee (see website for details)
from ZeroKnowledge(R)
Web site:
http://www.Zero-Knowledge.com/
http://www.Freedom.net/


Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews may not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.