The popular free VPN (virtual private network) software Hotspot Shield has just received an update to Hotspot Shield 2.5 which comes with an impressive set of new features. Hotspot Shield lets you connect to a secure network with the click of a button to improve online security. Once you are connected to the Hotspot Shield network, it acts as a proxy for all your Internet connections. Websites that you visit, servers that you connect to, and people that you communicate with will only see the Hotspot Shield IP address, and not your own.
The encrypted secure connection furthermore ensures that your data is protected from snooping, which is especially useful when you are using public networks to connect to the Internet. This is the case in hotels, airports, corporate offices or public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The VPN may also allow you to bypass firewalls, for instance on your University campus or office. Networks are often designed to block access to a set of websites. This can be sites like Facebook, Google Mail or YouTube for instance.
Hotspot Shield 2.5 comes with a new network detection feature that tries to automatically detect if the network your are currently on is secure or insecure.
The following screenshot demonstrates how it looks like if the connection has been identified as insecure.
The developers of the program have added options to the program to help users take advantage of the new feature. The options can for instance be set to automatically establish a connection with Hotspot Shield if a new or unknown network has been identified. They can alternatively be set to warn the user when that happens, or do nothing at all.
The new version of Hotspot Shield can be installed without administrative privileges, and program use does not require them either. The program indicates the connection status in the browser window in the new version, which can act as a visual reminder (with options to turn it off in the program settings).
AnchorFree, the company behind Hotspot Shield, have added malware protection in a previous version of the VPN software. This warns the user when a malicious site is requested. This warning, along with a remote (safe) snapshot of the requested site are then displayed in the browser, with options to leave, or to continue on to the real site.
Hotspot Shield 2.5 can be downloaded from the developer website. Make sure you pay attention to theinstallation, as you may otherwise end up with a Hotspot Shield browser toolbar that you had no intention to install. The free version is limited in certain ways, including bandwidth, and displays ads while running. Users can upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite for unlimited bandwidth, and ad free internet browsing.