The freewheeling early days of the Internet are over, and it’s no longer possible to rely on passive security measures. Today you need to take active steps to protect your identity, privacy, and personal security from an ever-changing array of threats. AnchorFree’s ExpatShield protects your identity and personal data such as addresses and credit card numbers, lets you browse safely and anonymously, and even allows access to some of your favorite U.K. Web sites like BBC iPlayer. It shields you by establishing a proxy connection and assigning your PC a temporary U.K.-based IP address. ExpatShield is ad-supported freeware, which is standard for Web-based tools these days.
ExpatShield’s installer automatically sets up your proxy IP address, displaying your connection status in a browser page and a system tray icon as well as an ad banner that opens with each new page. Clicking the icon opened a menu that offered a Disconnect/Off button, language options, and other basic entries, including a Properties sheet displaying connection details. Except for the ad banner and the ever-so-slight lag, using ExpatShield is just like browsing normally. Our favorite sites loaded quickly, but with a slight yet perceptible lag, especially when we accessed locally hosted news media. However, it’s nowhere near slow enough to outweigh ExpatShield’s much greater privacy and security. Each site loaded with a prominent connection status/ad link toolbar that we could close. With plenty of online IP locators and identifiers available, we quickly verified that our PC displayed an anonymous U.K.-based IP address instead of our actual (and static) IP address.
Proxy connections used to be difficult and slow, but ExpatShield addresses both of those issues. The ad bar is a minor distraction, considering it keeps ExpatShield free. One ad linked to BBC iPlayer, which is currently limited to U.K. IP addresses. The BBC is developing an international version to allow viewers everywhere to enjoy the finest television content in the world (radio is already available). But ExpatShield’s proxy IP address enabled us to watch BBC series like “Doctor Who” and “Eastenders,” U.K. and continental sports, and all the Beeb’s channels, including the best HD quality we’ve yet seen.