Hotspot Shield is a public virtual private network service, was former 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 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 macOS operating 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.