The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity



“Anonymizer Universal” product suite launched!

I am really excited to announce our new product “Anonymizer Universal” (AU), available starting today. AU represents a totally new architecture for our services.

Not only is it more powerful, faster, and much more capable, but it now also supports Mac and iPhone platforms! With one subscription you can use it across any of the supported devices.

Our new solution is VPN based, and bypasses any specific software support issues. AU works with any browser. Any program that connects to the Internet will automatically take advantage of AU. All connections between your computer and Anonymizer are cryptographically protected.

AU continues to leverage our massively scaleable backend infrastructure that provides the anonymity and daily rotating IP addresses.

AU will replace both our “Anonymous Surfing” and “Total Net Shield products”. “Nyms” is becoming all web based and will soon be upgraded with new interface options and better integration.

Expect to see more new capabilities and expanded solutions going forward as the renewed and expanded resources we are devoting to these products bear fruit.

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  • aleghart · February 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Lance, I’m being told _flat_out_ by your support that use by someone with a job is not supported. A home firewall is supported, but they won’t talk to me because you are legally afraid of what I might do to my own network.

    This product was marketed for privacy in market research…but you won’t provide support.

    You give me a toll-free phone number that rings to one individual voicemail box. How does that show that businesses are supported? You have one rep who is not available, and a tech support staff that has their hands tied.

    I suffered through the lackluster communication during the Anonymizer Universal beta period. I provided feedback on the issues.

    Now, at the official launch, you decide to tell me that I can’t use the software?

    If I hadn’t been a customer for so many years, I’d think you were selling snake-oil.

    What gives?

  • Author comment by Emily, Anonymizer Support · February 26, 2010 at 10:05 am

    This raises a critical difference between the Anonymizer Home User and Business departments. The Anonymizer Universal service is designed for home use. The Anonymizer Business department offers services for businesses with a business support department that works with the IT departments of their customers. The beta period of Anonymizer Universal demonstrated that this service is not suitable for business use. I encourage all our home users that are exploring options in their workplace to contact our Business department.

  • Paul Smith · March 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm




  • Author comment by lance · March 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I would not have put it quite that way, and certainly not with the shouting. This is a bug in the current implementation of AVG. AVG Internet Security 9.0 does not currently allow L2TP connections unless you set your Firewall to “Allow All.” We are in the process of working with AVG as they establish a way to enable custom settings for these types of connections.

    It is not normal behavior for a firewall to require you to effectively turn it off in order to enable a VPN. There are many other free firewall options out there.

  • nii · March 2, 2010 at 6:13 am

    where can i buy Anonymizer Universal-1 Year Subscription. besides the main store

  • Author comment by lance · March 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Anonymizer Universal is currently only available through the Anonymizer website. Is there some difficulty making that work?

  • Name · March 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Tor is free and open source:

  • Thierry · March 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Hello M Cottrell,

    I’m a customer of Anonymizer for a certain time now with TNS. I was very surprised to read the new “Anonymizer Universal™ End–User License Agreement.



    … “TECHNICAL SUPPORT;CONTACT INFORMATION. In connection with your use of the Software and Services you may choose to access certain technical support (“Technical Support”) that may be offered by Anonymizer. Any such Technical Support shall be provided in Anonymizer’s sole discretion without any guarantee or warranty of any kind”.

    I understand that if I upgrade from TNS to the News Universal Anonymizer, the software is provided “AS IS” and it is only warranted for a period of 60 days. The support is provided in sole discretion of Anonymizer.

    It seems incredible ! It is a very hard change to your end user agreement. In my opinion users need to trust anonymizer to use this new product. If we use your products it is because we trust to your company and to your products.

    I think we need the same quality of support and security we have with TNS.

    Thank you for your answer


  • Author comment by lance · March 6, 2010 at 7:22 am

    While I generally avoid making negative comments about other privacy services, and TOR is particularly awkward since I know the authors well, I feel I need to respond.
    Yes, TOR is free and run by volunteers, that is part of the reason the performance is so poor. The connections are very slow in large part because reliable high speed network connectivity is expensive. We charge for the service because it costs money to do it well.
    TOR uses a security model that I simply don’t buy. With Anonymizer you do need to trust Anonymizer. We have been around almost 15 years and I have been doing this personally for 18 years. You can easily research who I am and my background and history. You can also verify that there has never been a case where Anonymizer has compromised the Internet activities of any of its users. With TOR, all of the servers are run by volunteers, and anyone can volunteer. Many of these nodes will be run by the US Government, many by foreign governments, some by criminals, and of course many by well meaning and legitimate volunteers. If you are using multiple hops, whoever runs the first node can keep track of you as a TOR user. The last node will see your traffic in the clear (unless it is encrypted end to end). This means they can intercept any non-SSL web traffic, inspect it, and even modify it. The recent EFF Panopticlick project shows how easy it would be for the end node to recognize your traffic.
    I think it is far better to trust someone you can research and verify rather than trusting a cloud of people you really don’t know at all.

  • Author comment by lance · March 6, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I am no big fan of EULA either, but this is fairly standard boilerplate. We are not making any changes to our support policies. This is a subscription service, as long as you are a subscriber we will provide full support. To do otherwise would be business insanity. The EULA is written the way it is because this country is incredibly litigious and businesses need to CYA at all times to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
    Anonymizer Universal is far superior to the old TNS product. I strongly encourage you to give it a try.

  • Joe · March 6, 2010 at 8:48 am


    Is anyone having trouble with getting Anonymizer Universal to work after upgrading from Anonymizer (or one of the other services)? I get this “Error Code: 789” message EVERY single time I try to connect to the internet (“The L2TP connection attempt failed because the security layer encountered a processing error during initial negotiations with the remote computer. If this error persists, please contact Customer Support. Error Code: 789”)

    BTW, I have Norton Internet Security 2010. I’ve tried everything, including completely disabling the Norton firewall (the Windows firewall is of course always turned off), but of course this does not help. I contacted/sent an email to Anonymizer Support but it’s the weekend and I’m not sure how long it will take for them to get back with me. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks a lot, I would really appreciate it!

  • lg · March 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    After rather sizeable gaps in communication between Anonymizer and the general public, when Anonymous Surfing failed to keep up with Microsoft and Mozilla releases, I didn’t think I’d return as a customer, but here I am. So far, so good with Universal.
    Question: Where’s the suggestion box?
    When I “connect automatically,” I’d like the application to get sent to the system tray, rather than the current display in the middle of the screen. Thanks!

  • DH · March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Anonymizer universal wont even allow my pages to load…I installed it on my laptop replacing the original software , which worked fine by the way, thinking it would be “better” as advertised. I’m very disappointed. Contacted support and all they said was that you will experience slowdowns going through VPN….duuhhh

  • LA · March 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I have used the “Old version – TNS” of Anonymizer for a year without problems.

    The new release of Anonymizer does not work for me (and based on comments – for many more users) !!

    There are intermittent error codes, at times VERY slow connections, and rarely more than 15 minutes of use without a lockup or reconnect.

    I am using Windows 7 (64 bit), Mozilla 3.6, and McAfee Firewall.

    It would be VERY helpful if you would publish:
    what is wrong with the new product:
    which programs are compatible and a detailed setup for each compatible program:
    and a timeline for resolving the bug issues.

    In the meantime – is it possible to change an
    Anonymyier Universal subscription to a Total Net Security subscription until the bugs are worked out?

  • Author comment by lance · March 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I am seeing slowness, but certainly not a failure of pages to load. I suspect that the adoption curve has been faster than we expected. I am investigating to make sure we have enough new hardware in the pipeline to get back ahead of the growth curve.

  • Author comment by lance · March 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

    We are still learning about compatibility issues that did not show up in the Beta period. Good idea about publishing the list in a easy to find location. I will make sure that happens.

  • Author comment by lance · March 9, 2010 at 7:22 am

    As a start, let me list a couple of known working product.
    The ZoneAlarm Free Firewall and the Comodo Free Firewall both function well.

  • Rob · March 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I am getting this message when I try to connect; I am using Bitdefender Internet security 2010. The L2TP connection attempt failed because the security layer encountered a processing error during initial negotiations with the remote computer.

    If this error persists, please contact Customer Support.

    Error Code: 789

  • Anon2010 · March 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I like the new product. It is very nice and performance is great. I also trust the Anonymizer brand (I guess because of, even though the company was bought by another company.

    However I see one “fundamental” issue. When there is an error in the Anonymizer connection (still seems to happen frequently because of server overload?), then Anonymizer switches automatically into unprotected mode. This of course would be a serious flaw for any Anonymizer service.

  • Emile · March 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Must admit, Universal does not work for me. Get it up and running for about 5 minutes, then it disconnects, I try reconnecting and get a different error message every time (some listed on your website, some not). Also, only seems to work with FF, not IE8 or Outlook (and as per your troubleshooting guide, no I am not using port 25). And I find it much slower than TNS – strange as I thought it uses the same connection as TNS. Don’t think this is a firewall issue since it runs for a full 5 minutes (using KIS2010). Reinstalling does not work either. Uninstalled Universal, and am back on TNS – working just fine. Perhaps this needs more testing.

  • Dave T · March 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Wow- I’m surprised that people are having problems. I have been a customer for many years. I happen to think Universal is perfect. It runs on my Mac flawlessly and works just as well on XP. Lance, I can honestly say I am a very happy camper now! I was a beta user and I thought your support was great. Back in the old days, the program would crash for no reason at all. I have been connected to Universal for about 50 days without one broken connection or crash. That’s really cool!

  • Author comment by lance · March 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I am sorry to hear about your troubles with Anonymizer Universal. Since it is running as a VPN, not as a browser specific plug in, I am surprised that it is impacting different browsers differently. Our support team will follow up with you to resolve this ASAP. Most of our customers are seeing huge improvements, so we need to get your issue resolved. The result you are seeing is obviously unacceptable.

  • Author comment by lance · March 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Good suggestion. We are trying to strike the right balance with how obtrusive the software is, but it should get in your face when the connection drops. Please follow up with support on the connection errors. Most customers are not seeing that, so it would be very helpful if we could work with you to debug this issue.

  • Author comment by lance · March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Thanks for letting me know. I will make sure our engineers follow up with you to identify and resolve your issue.

  • smith · March 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    It is happy to find a new version of the software. The version brings along with it the ease to use GUI interface, and easy to configure, easy to handle. It encrypts and hides our identity thereby protecting us and saving the traffic from falling into wrong hands. For more information:

  • Anon2010 · March 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Lance, thanks for your response. I reported this to support already, so they should be aware of this. I also get “789 errors” here and there. However I somewhat expected this, because every software company has problems with quality after a software launch (unfortunately). I just hope that you guys fix the “switch into unprotected mode when connection drops” problem.

    Thanks again also for your pioneer work in this field! It is really appreciated.

  • Author comment by Emily, Anonymizer Support · March 11, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    We, in Support, appreciate all the help Lance has provided above in fielding software issues and errors. Many of the scenarios described above are known issues that will be corrected in upcoming updates. Please submit all technical questions/ issues to ts @ and comments and suggestions for enhancements or changes to the service are tracked through support @

  • Anon2010 · March 12, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Emily, thanks for your feedback. Anonymizer is a great company and Lance contributions to privacy are invaluable! A few bugs in a brand new product are no problem at all for us!

  • Tess Facenda · May 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Hi, I like your site! I shall be back again.

  • Dabbler · June 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    I really miss the TNS. My connection speeds are awful with AU. I ran a speed test from non-connected to connected and my download speed shot down from 8,343kbps to 418kbps. That’s just totally unacceptable. How can you possibly think AU is an improvement with connection speeds like that?

  • Jon · July 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I have recently switched to AU from AS. Ugh! This is terrible. Loooooooonnnnggggg times to establish a secure connection, constant dropping out, extremely slow page loading (causing timeouts). I cannot trust AU to keep me secure if it keeps shutting down and changing into unsecured mode. What in the world has happened to the quality and how can this be considered an improvement over AS?

  • Jon · August 4, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    You know what? I tried the FAQ ideas for Norton 360 Firewall and also reloading AU, etc, etc. I give up. I have not had a program perform with so many bugs in many years. This program constantly drops out–without warning, gee thanks a lot–and takes forever to reconnect, only to drop out again intermittently. Why would you replace Anonymous Surfing with this crappy product? I will find another way to be secure because I sure cannot depend upon AU to do it.

  • Cockney Boy · September 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Used both AS and TNS for years and was very happy. Now using AU and it is very poor.

    Lost connections, problems logging on, switching to unsecured mode, lengthy technical port forwarding and firewall instructions etc etc. Plus no replies to my emails to the support team for help. This is not the service I have come to know.

    With all the problems reported here I have just one thing to say to Anonymizer: BRING BACK TNS NOW!

  • jake · September 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    wow, with all these issues, i’m petrified to change over, but since my TNS doesn’t work anymore, i guess i’ll have to…TNS worked great….hopefully you can make this new one too…

  • dorque · October 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Lance/I have been a user of TNS for the last year using ubuntu and puppy linux. I am committed to the linux platform and simply will not go back to windows. But now I’m w/out any shield because you don’t “support” linux. There must be some way to get AU running on linux. Maybe even thru WINE? – Come on, please take my money, just show me how to make it work/dorque

  • Will Page · December 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Will Anonymizer Universal work with Google Chrome, and will it work while using “incognito window” in Google Chrome.

  • Andre · December 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I completely agree with everyone on the constant recent drop-offs and difficulty logging on. I have followed all the suggestions given by support personnel and online documentation.
    Lance, I think you need a rework of this product, especially to make it work seemlessly with Windows 7 which it is not doing.
    I am also a longtime anonymizer user (about 10 years)….hmmmm….Comments please?!

  • Ronb Spetrino · February 4, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Comment 37 was made about 6 weeks ago. I am long time user (at least 5 years) of the old program and feel the same way. This new Universal program has caused me nothing but problems. It goes on and off at will. Although I have it set to open with the boot up it does not open. It randomly stops opening pages on my IE8. It has turned out to be a pain in the a__. I have set all the parameters that the technical people have sent me and that does not solve the problembs. I would like some guidance or else I will have to delete it because it is not doing the job that was so well done by the previous program

  • Frank · June 8, 2011 at 9:25 am

    “…We are trying to strike the right balance with how obtrusive the software is, but it should get in your face when the connection drops. Please follow up with support on the connection errors. Most customers are not seeing that, so it would be very helpful if we could work with you to debug this issue.”

    That’s really not acceptable, as many people will not be looking at their monitor when a VPN connection drops. There needs to be an option to have your internet connection killed if the VPN should get disconnected.

  • Author comment by lance · June 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I agree, that is absolutely how it should work. We have found it next to impossible to get that to actually work on Mac, Windows, or iOS. I have wanted that behavior for a long time on all my VPN connections, but no-one provides it that I have found. It is on our roadmap and is the behavior we want to support at the end of the day.

  • Andre · June 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I am having the same problem with dropped connections on Anonymizer Universal and have worked with customer support a couple of times to no avail. I even try to shrink my browser and bring up the Anonymizer screen to help me see if the connection goes down but that does not even do it. Up down up down. I also am a longtime user (9years?) but am thinking I need to switch to something else. Anonymizer has had enough time to resolve this issue. Comments please, Lance.

  • Author comment by lance · June 20, 2011 at 7:58 am

    This seems to be a specific issue related to individual ISPs. We are not seeing this problem for the vast majority of users.

    We are working on some different VPN technologies which should resolve this issue for everyone.

  • SD · July 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

    In general, I like this product but what’s with Error Code 629? Just trying to log on for the last two hours on a Sunday morning and have had nothing but grief. Your support log says “Anonymizer Universal Intermittant [Sic] Authentication Issues Resolved” but it has definitely not been.

    Also, agree that timed out connections should kill Internet connections. Anonymizer frequently drops, exposing everyone’s IP address which is the exact opposite of your intention, ccorrect?

  • Phill · August 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Just wondering if AU is still having issues with MacBook pros, if your ISP can see your activity, and if you’re in Germany per say will it still work?

    Thanks for everybody’s help

  • Author comment by lance · August 16, 2011 at 9:20 am

    We are not seeing any issues with MacBook Pros (which is what I use it on).
    Your ISP can see that you are connecting to, but not where you go from there or anything about the content of your communications.
    I am not aware of any attempts by German ISPs or the German government to restrict access to the Anonymizer products.

  • BillG · December 1, 2011 at 4:00 am

    I wonder if the Beta test is still underway? I was asked to take part and have had several problems that make it no really a good mix with my computer. I’ve reported through the Beta Test site but have heard nothing back.

  • raton · June 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Despite repeatedly assurances AU doesn’t work in China , log on , lucky to get 5 minutes before it switches off. Using AVG creates another problem, email support hopeless, lucky to get an answer if you have a complaint. Save the money , the guys are selling snake oil..!

  • Author comment by lance · July 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I am interested that you were told it would work in China. Our AU servers are well known and easily discovered, so we have been blocked there for many years. We have done a number of free anti-censorship activities in the past in collaboration with the Voice of America, but don’t have any active right now.

  • SatinFloss · September 24, 2012 at 8:20 am

    How about Afghanistan? It worked fine for a while, but since about last week, I get the 789 Error and it can’t connect. I can’t access the website, either, as it’s blocked by the ISP. Suggestions?

  • Author comment by lance · September 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The service at is not really designed to circumvent this kind of censorship. It is too easy for governments to simply subscribe and block. We have done many non-commercial anti-censorship solutions but we don’t discuss those details so publicly.
    What kind of network are you using to connect?

  • Susan Modeski · March 31, 2013 at 6:46 am

    After switching from TNS to Anonymizer Universal, I found some good and some bad. It has a much improved interface. I can turn it on and off easily fromt he desktop. It also masks my ip better. I found with Total Net Shield my internet provider could be disclosed if I had my scripts turned on. Universal fixed that problem. The only big problem of Anonymizer Universal is that it seems to hang when loading websites. They do come up, but usually after a wait of sometimes up to a minute. That would be a deal changer for me, unless I see improvements before my next subscription renewal.

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