Hotspot Shield for Windows 7 includes features such as masking the user’s actual IP address, allowing anonymous surfing by creating a secure means of communication between the user’s computer and the Hotspot Shield servers, and the option to bypass website restrictions and firewalls. Other features include malware protection, encryption of passwords and financial transactions, and protection against intrusions when using public Wi-Fi networks.
Hotspot Shield doesn’t require administrative privileges to run, allowing the program to bypass firewalls that network administrators impose on specific content. The program is available for free since it relies on ad-supported revenue, but AnchorFree also offers a paid version of the program that boasts additional features, including access to virtual IP addresses from more locations, ad-free usage and better Internet security solutions.
By masking the actual IP address, Hotspot Shield prevents websites from gathering information regarding the user’s online identity and makes it impossible for Internet Service Providers to track online activities. By enabling users to connect to websites via the HTTP Secure protocol, Hotspot Shield can encrypt network traffic and prevent others from accessing sensitive data by intercepting it on a public Wi-Fi network. The malware protection feature works by issuing a warning whenever a user visits one of the 3.5 million websites that are part of the database of known and suspected domains that host malicious content. As of 2015, over 200 million users have downloaded Hotspot Shield.