UltraSurf is a free (but not open source) software utility that lets computer users bypass both government firewalls and censorship, through the use of HTTP proxy servers. It further employs encryption to ensure the privacy of communications. The software is available for Windows and Android, and it currently works with Microsoft browsers. But there are also plugins as well for Chrome and Firefox. The software is also portable, which means that no additional files get installed on the computer, and no registry changes are made. So the software can be completely removed by simply deleting the executable file.
- Allows Windows and Android users the ability to bypass government firewalls and censorship of the Internet
- Uses encryption to further protect the privacy of communications
- Is completely free to use
- Has a truly portable installation that is easy to delete if necessary
- Is very simple to use
- While it is free, it is not open source because of security concerns
- Will sometimes get flagged as malware by scanners
- Will slow down Internet connections by its very nature
- Is only available for Windows and Android
Internet censorship is a big issue in many parts of the world, and not just in countries that have autocratic governments. A number of countries attempt to control Internet access among its citizens, especially during times of upheaval. UltraSurf was developed by Chinese dissidents to specifically bypass government firewalls in China. Both Harvard University and Wired have hailed the tool as one of the best ways to circumvent censorship, and it was used extensively during the Arab Spring, as well as in Tibet and Myanmar. UltraSurf further has a very simple UI and it is easy to use. Though it does have its share of drawbacks. First of all, while the software is free, is not open source (supposedly to protect its security methods). This means that very few people really know what exactly it is doing underneath the hood. It is also only available for Windows and Android, and it will sometimes get flagged as malware by certain scanners, such as McAfee VirusScan. Finally, due to its very nature, it will slow down an Internet connection.