Free Hotspot Shield 1.47 – Surf The Internet In The “Dark”

image I live in Toronto, Canada, but when I travel the Internet, for all intents and purposes I live in White Plains, New York. So is this magic; do I have the power to teleport (sort of, beam me up Scotty), or have I mastered a paranormal skill?

I wish! But being in one place and appearing to be in another place on the Internet, is magic, of a sort.

I’ve been surfing the Internet since day one essentially, and during that time I’ve become increasingly concerned with protecting my privacy, and anonymity, while surfing the Internet.

If you consider this slightly paranoid behavior, well …. you’re right. But, as I’ve said here numerous times – “ …. we all need to become infected with a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet. Being paranoid, suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make you invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce the odds enormously”.

Other than my personal concerns, there are more obvious reasons, you may have, for anonymous surfing, including – surfing in internet cafes, public terminals in libraries, or hotel business centers.

In fact, you may want to surf anonymously on any PC where you don’t want to leave traces of your private surfing activities to ensure protection from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, or curious family members.

Most typical PC users are amazed at the amount of information their browser provides to web sites they visit. For example, the information below is available to every web site I visit. I have X’d out certain parameters for privacy purposes only.

Your computer is connecting to the internet at xxxxxxx, xxxx, in the xxxx, with an IP address of 24.xxx.xxx.xxx

Your User Agent is being reported as: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.12) Gecko/Firefox/3.5.3

Your Referrer is being reported as: http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&client= ient=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en

Your IP Address is 24.xxx.xxx.142

Your Host Name is d2xx- xxx.xxx.xxx.cable.net

Actually, this is mild, depending on the web site, considerably more information, about you, can be captured.

Hotspot Shield, is a free solution which uses both a proxy server and encryption technology, which can increase security (particularly at off site locations), and protect your privacy as well, by effectively hiding your IP address .

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According to the developers “Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop or iPhone, and our Internet gateway. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers, hackers, ISP’s, from viewing your web browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network”.

Upside: I’ve been using this application for some time now, and it does exactly as it says. Despite the fact this is a proxy service, I find no slowdown in accessing sites, pages, or streaming content.

I’m satisfied with its performance – it works well, and is easily turned on/off via the system tray icon. Incidentally, Hotspot Shield was named as one of the best free applications of 2008 by PC Magazine.

Hotspot 3

Downside: This is an ad supported application and it puts banner ads on every web page that you view.

Fast facts: Ensure you are private, secure, and anonymous online!

Secure your web session, data, online shopping, and personal information online with HTTPS encryption.

Protect yourself from identity theft online.

Hide your IP address for your privacy online.

Access all content privately without censorship; bypass firewalls.

Protect yourself from snoopers at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, corporate offices.

Works on wireless and wired connections alike. Provides Unlimited Bandwidth.

Works on the PC and the MAC, including new operating systems (Windows 7 and Snow Leopard)

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application which will keep your web surfing private, Hotspot Shield is definitely worth a look.

System requirements: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, and Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

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19 Comments

Filed under Anonymous Surfing, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Privacy, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

19 responses to “Free Hotspot Shield 1.47 – Surf The Internet In The “Dark”

  1. sut

    Hi Bill
    Excellent article on what looks to be a useful tool for remaining anonymous on the internet. All the ‘free’ VPN’s i’ve tried have ‘slowed down’ my bandwidth to the point where i can only download at a fraction of the speed i’m used to, so your claim that speeds are not noticeably affected using Hotspot Shield was what caught my eye. I’ve also experienced another problem where free VPN’s will disconnect occasionally, leaving you with no protection until you manually reconnect. The fact you haven’t mentioned any such issues is another positive. One question, does Hotspot Shield protect you when using software that accesses your internet connection (e.g. uTorrent) or does it only protect your web browsing?
    Regards.

    Sut

    • Hey Sut,

      I had the same experience you had – slow and poor performance. I’m not really sure on your Torrent question, but I’ll get back to you.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. leofelix

    Hi Bill
    thank you.
    Very good review as usual.
    I think you already know that Hotspot Shield comes with a counduit toolbar prechecked
    http://www.calendarofupdates.com/updates/index.php?showtopic=16109&st=180&p=94571&#entry94571

    Regards

    • Hey Leofelix,

      Good to hear from you.

      Thank you for pointing out that Hotspot Shield comes with a toolbar pre-checked. I think we’re all pretty tired of this nonsense, but it seems developers either aren’t listening to us, or don’t care.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Liam O' Moulain

    Thanks for this Bill.

    I worry about my privacy on the Net, so I’ll be giving this a try.

    Liam

  4. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    I have used this in the past and it is as you say, no noticeable slowdowns. A good free VPN. Some AV’s flag it as adware (ESET comes to mind) but that’s cool, it sorta is but not in a bad way.

    If that stupid internet filter ever becomes a reality, I will be using Hotspot Shield a lot more.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Thanks for the tipoff (didn’t know that), on some AVs picking this up as adware, which you rightly point out – it is. As you say, you’ll be prepared if that Great Firewall of Australia ever happens. What a moronic idea – hopefully, with your new PM this will die a decent death. But, all politicians act like there on drugs as far as I’m concerned. So, you’re right in being prepared.

      Best,

      Bill

  5. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Our new PM is supporting it, unforutnately. But she has put it off until after the election so they can “review the secret refused classification list”. Because in their trials, honest websites were getting the list (e.g. a dentist, a travel agent, and some online gambling sites, to name a few).

    In the meantime, our three biggest ISP’s have agreed to voluntarily filter a list of child porn sites until the whole issue is sorted out. That is fair enough, nobody wants that crap around, but as you can see, innocents are getting caught in the list. And what really pisses me off is nobody is allowed to look at the list.

    I am all for stamping out the filthy underbelly of the net, but there has to be a better way. All the experts in this field are saying it won’t work, so why the government stubbornly continues with it makes me wonder what the agenda really is.

    (Mal now steps off his soapbox lol)

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      The agenda is really quite simple. As with most laws, at least in this country, in my recent memory, they are designed to control the masses and limit personal freedom. All of these new laws have had a social component attached.

      This obscene Great Firewall of Australia proposal reminds me of the strict gun laws we have in Canada (which I support), that are designed to keep handguns out of the hands of ordinary people, but fail spectacularly to keep handguns out of the hands of criminals.

      The GFWA will restrict peoples’ rights and freedoms, and have NO effect on those it’s supposedly designed to impact. This is the age of the interconnectiveness of all things, and this “law” has NO chance of being effective.

      What a bunch of technically illiterate morons. If/when, this law is enacted, applications to deal with it will be readily available for download. If China can’t do it effectively, how in hell does the government of Australia believe they can do it?

      Best,

      Bill

  6. Ranjan

    Hey Bill,
    After reading the initial part of your review, i was about to turn on my pc to dload this.. But after reading further, the point that it puts ads on every site you visit—just one word word, Damn! I already have a not-so-fast dial-up connection and then again a bunch of ads on it, phew! I’m at a distance from it.. I wont mind it if those ads would be there just in the application window, but on every site!! OMG!!
    Any other alternative, Bill?

  7. John Bent

    Hi Bill

    I use Open DNS and Google Sharing to protect my identity and tracks on the internet. Neither of these has adverts but I wonder if they are achieving what I hope they are.

    I’d be grateful for your thoughts please.

    Kind regards

    John

    • Hi John,

      Neither Open DNS, or Google Sharing, are anonymizers/proxies – that’s not what they do. In fact Open DNS, through its settings, can be used to disallow the use of anonymous proxies.

      Best,

      Bill

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  9. Hi Bill

    I tried HotSpot Shield out some months ago in order to watch an old US TV series on Hulu, as it’s not available in the UK (I’ll never understand why they have these restrictions) but Hulu told me off for using an anonymiser and refused to let me view any programmes anyway.

    Regards,
    Dave K

    • Hi Dave,

      I had the same experience from here in Canada. It’s not that Hulu wants to do this – it’s a result of the crazy licensing issues in place, that vary from country to country. It’s the consumer who gets screwed of course, by these antiquated agreements that fail to take into account the universality of the Internet.

      Best,

      Bill

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