7.16.2 / 29 January 2019; 19 months ago (2019-01-29)
|Operating system||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Linux|
|Available in||English, German, French, Russian, Arabic, Persian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish|
Hotspot Shield is a public virtual private network (VPN) service, was formed and until 2019 operated by AnchorFree, Inc. and is today operated by Pango. By establishing an encrypted connection with the Hotspot Shield servers, the service protects its users' Internet traffic from eavesdropping. Hotspot Shield was used to bypass government censorship during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.
Hotspot Shield is developed and operated by Pango (former AnchorFree Inc.), a company in Silicon Valley with offices in the Ukraine and Russia. The first Hotspot Shield client app was released in April 2008 for Windows and macOSoperating systems. It was expanded to include support for iOS and Android in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The Hotspot Shield client establishes an encrypted VPN connection with one of its supported public VPN servers, through which the user can connect to the Internet. The connection protects the traffic between the user and the server from eavesdropping, and the IP address of the client is not exposed. While the service cannot make users completely anonymous on the Internet, it can greatly increase privacy and security. Users can bypass censorship using Hotspot Shield by connecting to a VPN server located outside their country. Both the client software and the service are freemium: the main features of the client app, as well as a number of public servers are available free of charge, but users have to pay to get additional features, which include the elimination of advertisements, antivirus protection, connecting to more servers and choosing the geographic location of the service to which they connect.
Hotspot Shield has been used to bypass Internet censorship in countries with strict Internet censorship programs. During the Arab Spring protests in 2010, protesters used Hotspot Shield to access social networking tools to communicate and upload videos. Hotspot Shield was also widely used during the Egyptian protests and revolution in 2011, when the Mubarak regime cracked down heavily on access to social media sites. In 2013, usage of Hotspot Shield increased in Turkey, in response to the suspected efforts of the Turkish government to censor social media and citizen access to international websites. In 2014, usage of Hotspot Shield increased in Hong Kong after the outbreak of the 2014 Hong Kong protests.
In 2012, Hotspot Shield usage increased among Mac users in the United States and Europe, as 500,000 Mac users were infected by the Flashback virus. Hotspot Shield was used as a protection against the virus.
Hotspot Shield has generally received positive reviews by industry publications and websites.PC Magazine rated the software "excellent" and praised its status indicator, traffic encryption, connection speed at times and payment flexibility, but criticized the software's ad platform, website code injection, slowdown of overall response time and browser setting modifications.
In August 2017, the Center for Democracy and Technology issued an open complaint to the Federal Trade Commission which they state "concerns undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection occurring in Hotspot Shield Free VPN that should be considered unfair and deceptive trade practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act." CDT "partnered with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to analyze the app and the service and found 'undisclosed data sharing practices' with advertising networks."
In February 2018, a security researcher discovered an information disclosure bug in the app that results in a leak of user data, such as in which country the user is located, and the user's Wi-Fi network name, if connected.
- ^Hotspot Shield Free VPN
- ^Hotspot Shield
- ^Hotspot Shield Elite
- ^ abc"Company Overview of AnchorFree, Inc". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^ abEmpson, Rip. "With Its Hotspot Shield Hitting 60M Downloads, AnchorFree Lands A Whopping $52M From Goldman Sachs". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^ abLevin, Dan (16 January 2010). "Software Makers See a Market in Censorship". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^ abcGreene, Rachel. "Arab Spring and Emerging Technology". CNN iReport. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"About AnchorFree". AnchorFree. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"News & Events". AnchorFree. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^ abMessieh, Nancy. "Hotspot Shield: A quiet hero for Internet privacy and security around the world". TNW. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"I am Anonymous When I Use a VPN". goldenfrog.com. Golden Frog. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
- ^Colao, J.J. "How To Thwart Hackers And Dictators With One Free Download". Forbes. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"Hotspot Shield Free VPN Experiences 1000% Growth Surge in the Wake of Recent Turkish Unrest". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^Koehn, Josh. "AnchorFree Opens Doors to Revolution". SanJose.com. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^Ballim, Evren; Sandle, Paul (6 June 2013). "Turks skip suspected censorship with Internet lifelines". Reuters. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^Acohido, Byron (5 June 2013). "Turkey citizens use VPN to air grievances". USA Today. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"Hong Kong Protests Beating the Media Crackdown". Forbes. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- ^"Mac virus a 'wake-up call', says CEO". CNME. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- ^"The best free VPN services of 2015 for UK users: access blocked sites and surf the web anonymously". pcadvisor.co.uk. PC Advisor. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
- ^"Hotspot Shield Offers VPN Servers in Multiple Countries, Perfect for Watching Blocked Content Overseas". lifehacker.com/. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- ^"Hotspot Shield Elite". pcmag.com. PC Magazine. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- ^"CDT's Complaint to the FTC on Hotspot Shield VPN". Center for Democracy and Technology.
- ^"Privacy group accuses Hotspot Shield of snooping on web traffic". ZDNet.
- ^Whittaker, Zack (2018-02-06). "A flaw in Hotspot Shield can expose VPN users, locations". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 2018-02-07.