Hotspot Shield: Does an Ad-Supported VPN Really Hide Anything?

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Screenshot courtesy of AnchorFree

Advertising Age has an interesting piece about a free VPN (Virtual Private Network) service with 5.5 million users that I had never heard of…

Hotspot Shield: Destroyer of Google, Yahoo and NBC?

The title is, of course, an incredibly catchy one. And, its first paragraph goes on to say: what would happen if the identities, geographies and surfing histories of a large number of internet users suddenly became invisible. The implication is that Hotspot Shield hides everything from web entities who want to know about you to serve up advertisement and collect marketing information. However, the article goes on to say that this is an ad-supported VPN. This is something that AnchorFree, the firm behind Hotspot Shield, also clearly states in their AnchorFree History page. So, aren’t advertisers seeing you while in the VPN anyway?

In any case, the purpose of a VPN is not to shield you from advertisers or market information collectors. Its purpose is to provide point-to-point security. If you choose to, for example, bring up a browser during a VPN session and view a commercial site that collects cookie information about you, it will still do so.

As you can see from the screenshot above, AnchorFree provides configuration information to let you use an iPhone with its VPN service. They also provide VPN clients for Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X. I haven’t tried the service myself. But, I am intrigued by it. I just sent email to AnchorFree’s PR firm asking for a podcast interview.