A UK-based security company has launched a ‘zero footprint’ browser it claims will protect users from the security problems that regularly afflict popular browsers.

The work of London-based EISST (Enterprise Information Security Systems & Technology), the XP and Vista-compatible e-Capsule Private Browser - to give it its full name - uses a mixture of techniques to protect a Windows user’s identity and keep browsing data away from prying eyes.

Data such as cookies, passwords, bookmarks and browsing history are kept encrypted with 256-bit AES, while the user’s IP address is protected by connecting through dedicated proxy servers. The browser leaves no traces of its activity on the PC, even in the Windows registry, and is small enough that it can launch from a portable USB drive.

“Public or exposed Web-surfing data is a major concern for high-end users and small businesses. Private Internet browsing provides a much needed secure Internet surfing alternative,” said Corrado Ronchi of EISST.

However, the company also admitted that that such a browser could also be used by criminals eager to cover their online tracks.

“It is true that people could also potentially use protected web browsing for illicit purposes. However, this is true of any encryption software, which protects the users’ data by digitally hiding it. EISST publicly advocates the proper and responsible use of this software and advises people to use it correctly,” said Ronchi.

E-Capsule’s one obvious drawback, apart from the link-sapping use of proxying servers, is that its makers charge £19.95 for the all-purpose HD version. Three other versions are also sold, including one designed to be run exclusively from a U3-enabled USB stick.

E-Capsule is not the first security browser to enter the market. The ad-based Browzar appeared in 2005, albeit with a more conventional architecture. Browzar is free of charge and, as with e-capsule, is small enough at 220K to sit on a USB stick.