Since writing here about the release of a new 'privacy preserving web browser', I have now had a chance to test Browzar for myself and can make the following additional comments:

I do not buy the 'Browzar is adware' comments that have been doing the rounds of the blogosphere, at least it's not adware in the usual sense of the word. What Browzar actually does is push users to its own search interface by default (although there is nothing stopping you from typing the Google URL and going to search there instead, as usual) and then serve up context driven ads courtesy of Overture within the results. The contentious issues being, and the cause of the adware complaints, that these sponsored results are presented within the search results and not separate from them. Naughty, not nice, but not adware in my book.

I do not buy the Browzar is a browser claim that the developers make for it either though. It isn't, as it merely wraps around the Internet Explorer shell in much the say way as a multitude of others including Maxthon and (my favorite of such things) NetCaptor. It would be more truthful to describe it as an IE skin, or a custom wrapper, than a browser in its own right.

I do not buy the promise of a footprint free web, with the promise that cache, history, cookies and auto-complete forms are all automatically deleted once you finish your browsing session. It may seem this way for most folk, and certainly as far as your average family user is concerned it will do the job of keeping the prying eyes of other family members out of their online business. But it just does not do what it proposes in a way that is secure enough to prevent anyone of a technical bent, or with access to Google and 10 minutes of time to do some research, from finding out exactly where the user has been. Much of this is because it is not a new browser, because it wraps around IE, because it shares many of the same privacy failings. So, by using the IE ActiveX control it ensures that anyone accessing the index.dat file will discover a list of browsed URLs for example. Because the files it does delete are not securely wiped from the hard drive, anyone with basic data recovery tools can go get them without fuss, should they want to.

Of course, the chances are that very few people would want to go to that kind of bother to resurrect a browsing click-trail of a family member. Which may mean you say ‘so Browzar is fine after all’ although I prefer to think of it in terms of ‘so why use Browzar in the first place?’

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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