It can’t happen to me … that’s something other people need to worry about … I’ve said that before and I’m sure you have too. Unfortunately identity theft and hacking on shared public Wi-Fi networks happens more often than you’d want to believe. It happened to me on a recent cruise and the result was hundreds of dollars were stolen from my bank account. That probably wouldn’t have happened if I was using Hotspot Shield to protect me.
While I have a VPN, I use it mostly to connect to my network back at the office. I’ve tested various products and didn’t see a need because, “I am not a hacker so why do I need to hide from the government?” Sure, I was aware of security risks from shared WiFi networks but I simply assumed that it couldn’t happen to me. I was wrong.
The folks at Hotspot Shield contacted me a few weeks later and asked that I check out their system and have me share my thoughts on it. Most VPN systems today either target tech geeks or are so dumbed down that they lack the power to really protect you. That’s why I liked Hotspot Shield from the moment I first downloaded the software. It’s easy … yet the company is legit and has some of the best technology on the market today. That’s a great combination.
As I used it more, I discovered that the experience of browsing the web, even downloading large files, streaming video was all seamless. That’s something I can not say for other VPNs that I’ve tested out in the past.
Why Do You Need Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield is very popular in countries where internet censorship is common. While most of you are in the United States and Europe, that might not be that big of a deal, so here’s some other uses you might not have thought about.
Trick Geofencing Apps and Websites
When I travel, there are often online deals that I don’t have access to when I am in a certain location. This is called “Geo Fencing” and is designed so that people already in an area can’t access a deal … but people thinking about coming can. This is commonly used with hotel and entertainment deal websites. For instance, if I connect to a certain site from home I might get a 2 for 1 offer but if I connect from an IP in Las Vegas then it might be a 20% off discount instead. By connecting through Hotspot Shield though, you can trick websites into thinking you are somewhere else and you can download that special deal.
Stream Video From Areas Where It Might Be Blocked
When I go to certain countries, there are streaming apps that I’m not able to access. Even though I have an American account, the server says I’m in France and won’t let me stream. This isn’t just an international issue, some sports programming might be blacked out for your area and with Hotspot Shield you’ll appear to be connecting from an area that isn’t blacked out!
Bypass Corporate or Institutional Censorship
While I never want to encourage someone to do something illegal or immoral, sometimes corporate or institutional IT managers go crazy and lock stuff down too tightly. There are times where accessing Netflix or a fantasy sports site might needed while you are at work. In a previous job the IT manager even blocked certain social media sites … ones I needed to use for work. Hotspot Shield can generally help you punch through those limitations and your IT administrator won’t be able to tell what you were browsing.
Secure Browsing and Preventing Hackers From Snooping
Ultimately, the biggest concern for most of you is protecting your security while online. This includes online shopping transactions, social media networks, banking, and other passwords or even photos that might be shared.
Public WiFi networks are a GREAT service … but they are generally a very easy place for criminals to do bad things.
Even when at home there are ISPs that snoop on your data to “customize offers” or for other purposes.
By getting Hotspot Shield you can protect yourself and since they don’t maintain logs, it keeps you anonymous online.
(note - you are never 100% anonymous online - governments and law enforcement agencies have other ways of determining estimated identity and location, even if Hotspot Shield does not maintain logs and your connection is encrypted.)
What Does Hotspot Shield Do?
Upon installation, I chose to make Hotspot Shield start whenever I booted my laptop. This way, it’s always running and I don’t have to think about it. When it starts, the system makes a special connection that acts like a tunnel to the server it is connected to. From that point on, your IP address appears to come from somewhere other than the one assigned to your PC by the network you are directly connected to.
This encrypted tunnel allows you to bypass anyone snooping on the wifi network and it also confuses any servers you are connecting to because they now think you are coming from “France” instead of “United States”. Even if you still connect to a server in the United States, it makes your browsing anonymous since Hotspot Shield assigns a new address to you and doesn’t keep logs of your browsing activity.
What I Like About Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield is the most popular service in the world for bypassing internet censorship and has data centers all over the world including United States, Japan, Germany, and Switzerland. The company has been around for more than a decade and has millions of customers around the world that trust it.
I think this is in large part due to the fact that it is dead simple to use. This is technology that I could install on my parents’ computer or phone and they would never have to worry about. While others have done more scientific, after using it for several weeks in different places I can say circumstantially that it is MUCH FASTER than the other commercial VPN service that I have used. It is also much easier to manage since it just starts up and grabs the fastest server it can.
Of course, faster and more simple are all worthless if it isn’t secure. Hotspot Shield uses military-grade encryption and has 2,500 servers in 25 countries so if something should happen somewhere, you won’t be stuck.
More than Just Online Privacy Protection!
I also LOVE that their mobile app does more than just protect your security online, but will actually do a basic malware scan as well as help close apps that might be using your battery too much.
The Hotspot Shield software installs into a Chrome web browser but also works on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android mobile devices.
Pricing is $71.88 per year or $12.99 per month and there is also a free ad-supported version. While they don’t accept crypto currency as an option, they do allow you to pay with gift cards from retailers such as Target and Starbucks as a way to increase your anonymity.
Most of you have nothing to worry about in terms of the government tracking you down so they of course also offer credit card payments and PayPal.